Paradise lost. When Steve Wynn stepped away from Wynn Resorts in February, it signalled a series of lasting effects on the Strip, the entertainment scene and Las Vegas in general. But the biggest immediate development was the eventual decision to pull the plug on his Paradise Park plans to create a giant lagoon attraction on the private golf course land. The project was one of the big six planned to arrive around 2020 with the Las Vegas Stadium, the Convention Center District expansion, Resorts World, the Drew and the MSG Sphere. We’ll see if the others stay on course.
The game is the show. Professional sports became a very visible part of the Strip entertainment landscape when the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights arrived as a legitimate phenomenon at T-Mobile Arena. Then the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces took up residency at Mandalay Bay Events Center, and local sports fever spread all over the Valley thanks to the Las Vegas Lights’ inaugural season at Cashman Field and the Las Vegas 51s’ recent transformation into the Aviators and impending move to a brand-new ballpark at Downtown Summerlin.
Musical residency chairs. Elton John, Lionel Richie and Jennifer Lopez wrapped up their shows, and Celine Dion announced her finale at the Colosseum will come in 2019. Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, Billy Idol and Barry Manilow signed on for repeat performances, and Lady Gaga, Gwen Stefani and Blink-182 took their first spins on the wheel o’ Vegas.
New identities. Renovations and rebranding reached every nook and corner of two familiar casino resorts: the Palms and Park MGM (formerly Monte Carlo). Palace Station got a comprehensive makeover, too.
Cirque celebration. Cirque du Soleil shows hit some major milestones in 2018: 15 years of Zumanity at New York-New York, 20 years of O at Bellagio and 25 years of Mystère at Treasure Island.
Trading dancefloors for video games. Several casino spaces converted into esports-associated venues, none more prominent than the Luxor’s HyperX Esports Arena Las Vegas, a super-cool stadium spot formerly known as LAX Nightclub.
Divas disappeared. Longtime headliner Frank Marino closed Divas Las Vegas at the Linq in June amidst controversial circumstances. It’d be surprising if Marino did not make a noticeable return in 2019.
Spiegelworld rising. The playfully inappropriate entertainment company opened the hilarious Opium at the Cosmopolitan, expanded Absinthe at Caesars Palace to a nightly schedule (and a larger cast) and made plans to open new music-heavy production We Are Here somewhere in Las Vegas in 2019.
Flying high. The first zip line attraction on the Las Vegas Strip debuted in early November. Fly Linq lets you soar above the popular promenade on your way to the other ride in the sky, the High Roller observation wheel.
Bye-bye Baz. Beloved by local showbiz folks, Baz shuttered at the Palazzo Theater in July after a solid two-year run on the Strip. Without it, the Boulevard doesn’t currently offer any Broadway-ish book musicals.
Angel spreads his wings. After a decade-long collaboration with Cirque du Soleil at Luxor, illusionist extraordinaire Criss Angel opened an ambitious new version of Mindfreak at his own theater at Planet Hollywood.