20 Awesome Things That Happened in Las Vegas in 2019

What’s new in Las Vegas? We’ve got this!

We’ve slapped together a perfunctory list of great things that happened in Las Vegas in 2019, from casino sales to broken records and entertainment news that’ll make you gaga.

Let’s dive into the most awesome things in Las Vegas this past year.

1. Sale of Rio

It took a minute, but our scoop about the Rio being sold was finally confirmed. We’d love to say there are big changes in the works at the ailing resort, but Caesars Entertainment will continue to operate the place for at least the next couple of years. Still, the $516 million sale to Dreamscape Companies provides some hope Rio’s got some life left in her despite years of neglect.

Rio Las Vegas casino

Rio has a new lease on life. The old lease was wrinkled an smelled like the Rio.

2. Vegas Was Invaded by Grasshoppers

It was easily the weirdest Las Vegas story of 2019. Las Vegas was invaded by grasshoppers, and the story made international news. The adorable, pallid-winged little buggers were gone almost as quickly as they arrived, but they left a lasting impression on our hearts. And windshields.

Vegas grasshoppers

The grasshopper invasion made the birds nearly as happy as us (this got 323,000 Tweet impressions).

3. Renovation of Viva Vision Screen

The $32 million renovation of the LED screen at Fremont Street Experience was completed on Nov. 13, 2019. The new screen is four times the resolution, seven times brighter and, for the first time, can be viewed during daylight hours. There’s a slew of new video content in the works for the revamped screen, set to debut on New Year’s Eve. Here’s a sneak preview of the new visuals.

 

4. Neon Museum Got the Hard Rock Guitar

When the Hard Rock Cafe closed outside the Hard Rock casino (soon to be Virgin), many had a freak-out about the iconic guitar sign outside. Luckily, the Neon Museum got the sign and spruced it up. Yet another reason to visit the Neon Museum.

Hard Rock guitar

Thought you’d never see this bad boy again? Don’t fret.

5. Elon Musk Starts Tunneling

We broke the story Elon Musk’s Boring Company was coming to Las Vegas, but that’s not the only reason we think this was one of the coolest things to happen in Vegas in 2020. Musk’s company is constructing a twin-tunnel loop transportation system that will whisk passengers from one end of the Las Vegas Convention Center to another, and there have also been preliminary discussions about expanding the tunnel system to downtown, the airport and even the new Raiders stadium.

Elon Musk tunnel Las Vegas

Oh, like you’ve never gotten drilled in Vegas.

6. Raiders Stadium Construction

Our shiny new Allegiant Stadium has been built so quickly, it’s almost enough to give one a concussion. It’s expected to open 2020, so expect that to be on our “Awesome Things That Happened in Las Vegas in 2020” list.

You don’t have to like sportsball to think this is sexy.

7. Quick Work at Circa Las Vegas

Speaking of lightning-fast construction, the Circa Las Vegas resort has been a thing of beauty. At the moment, workers are adding a new floor per week, and the $1.2 billion project is halfway done. Circa is touted as having the biggest sports book in the world, the “greatest pool in the history of the world,” five restaurants, a two-story casino and, sexily, will boast the return of a refurbished Vegas Vickie. December 2020 can’t get here quickly enough.

Circa, circa yesterday.

8. Resorts World Progress

Resorts World has taken about seven years to come into its own, but the new resort is now a looming presence on The Strip. It’s set to open in summer 2021 (after numerous delays, most of them strategic because of flat demand), but 2019 was a year of construction progress as well as adjustments to design (the Asian theme is out), scale (downsized) and amenities (including a 5,000-seat theater).

Resorts World Las Vegas

Resorts World bailed on its Asian theme, but has retained its “at least something’s happening.”

9. Hula Hoop World Record

This story didn’t get nearly enough play, but in 2019, Getti Kehayova broke the record for the largest hula hoop spun at a whopping 17-feet-plus, right here in Las Vegas.

10. Sex Dolls Brothel

You’d think the first sex doll brothel in Las Vegas would get more attention, but this new offering has pretty much flown under the radar. That’s because such establishments have been controversial in other cities, so the owner is keeping the venture on the down low. It costs $150 for a one-hour interaction with a thermoplastic elastomer doll, which, honestly, couldn’t sound sexier. How will the Las Vegas sex doll brothel fare? We trust the owner agrees with our prediction, “Build it and they will come.”

Las Vegas sex doll brothel

From Sex Dolls Experience: “Are you ready to indulge in the ultimate sexual experience where you are the main focus?” Or, as we call it, Tuesday.

11. Whiskey Licker Up Opened

The new Whiskey Licker Up at Binion’s features long pours, great food at reasonable prices and the only revolving bar in Las Vegas. It’s one of our new favorite watering holes downtown, and they even installed some video poker machines at our request. How’s that for customer service?

Whiskey Licker Up

If there are any misspellings in this caption, blame it on Whiskey Licker Up. Those pours, though.

12. Front Yard Opened

We’re pleased to report the long-awaited Front Yard at Ellis Island was worth the, well, wait. The two-level, indoor/outdoor venue boasts two bars, top-notch food and 15 video poker machines. Beer lovers will find themselves in heaven, with fresh beer brewed on the premises at prices you wouldn’t believe if we told you. Oh, all right, we’ll tell you: Giant, frosty beers are three bucks. No, really.

Front Yard Ellis Island

Your new favorite spot, Strip-ish.

13. Wynn/Encore Roll Back Paid Parking

One of the best surprises of 2019 was when Wynn and Encore rolled back paid parking. That’s right, both self-park and valet are free all over again. We’re pretty sure the change was inspired by challenges associated with getting people to visit Wynn Plaza, but whatever the reason, we’re thrilled with this move and hope other Las Vegas casinos follow suit.

Wynn parking

The best kind of paid parking ticket machine: The retired kind.

14. Strat Renovation

In case you missed it, the Stratosphere isn’t the Stratosphere anymore. It’s The Strat, and the north Strip casino has undergone a dramatic transformation. A nearly $100 million investment by Golden Entertainment has turned Strat into one of our favorite Strip hangs, with new restaurants, lounges and casino offerings galore.

Strat casino

You think you know the Strat, but it ain’t that.

15. Lady Gaga Ruled The Strip

When we broke the story Lady Gaga would have a Las Vegas residency, we had no idea she’d take the town by storm. She’s rumored to be making more than any Las Vegas headliner, ever, and continues to receive rave reviews for her performances at Park MGM.

Her close friends call her “Ga squared.”

16. “Atomic Saloon” Opened at Venetian

Fans of “Absinthe” at Caesars Palace were thrilled to hear there would be a new offering from Spiegelworld, the show’s quirky production company. In September, “Atomic Saloon” opened in the Grand Canal Shoppes at Venetian and Las Vegas lost its virginity yet again. The show is raunchy, over-the-top and chock full of variety acts unlike anything else in town. Thanks to “Atomic Saloon” for the pic.

You will look for a more irreverent show in Las Vegas, but you will find nun.

17. Sahara Rebrand and Renovation

The Sahara returned to the Las Vegas Strip in 2019, and if you haven’t visited recently, be prepared for a jolt. The entire casino has been revamped and SLS is a distant memory. While our heart was broken when Cleo closed (replaced with Italian), Sahara won us back with its gorgeous Casbar lounge (photo below). Sahara’s production show, “Blanc de Blanc,” closed after just three months, but the resort’s getting a lot right, too. The overhauled Sahara should be on your ever-growing Las Vegas to-do list.

New Sahara Las Vegas

The Casbar rocks.

18. Golden Nugget Got a Chick-fil-A

Yes, the opening of Chick-fil-A at Golden Nugget made our list of awesome new Vegas things. Not only was it the first Chick-fil-A in a casino, it was the first Chick-fil-A within walking distance of where we work (Fremont Street Experience), so just deal with it.

Chick-fil-A Golden Nugget

Las Vegas knows a little something about breast meat. If you get our drift.

19. MSG Sphere Construction

Construction began on the MSG Sphere in 2018, but it started to look like a thing in 2019. The Sphere is a partnership between the Madison Square Garden Company and Las Vegas Sands (owners of Venetian and Palazzo), and is expected to cost somewhere between $1.2 billion and “Holy crap, that’s a metric crap-ton of money.” Financial black hole aspect aside, the MSG Sphere could end up being epic. It’ll have 18,000 seats inside a 350-foot dome covered on the outside and inside by programmable, wraparound LED screens. Oh, and we can’t forget about the infrasound haptic flooring system, whatever that might be.

Las Vegas knows a little something about giant orbs. If you get our drift.

20. Sale of Circus Circus

Yes, the sale of Circus Circus to Phil Ruffin (owner of TI) for $825 million qualifies as awesome. First, we had the scoop about the sale before anyone else. Second, Circus Circus has long been the red-headed stepchild of MGM Resorts, and hope springs eternal a new owner will give the resort some much-needed love.

Circus Circus Lucky clown

Las Vegas knows a little something about big tops. If you get our drift.

Thank you for your cursory skimming of our list of awesome things that happened in Las Vegas in 2019. Yes, there were many more things we could add to this list, but honestly, we’re suffering from a bit of awesome fatigue.

We considered compiling a list of stupid things that happened in Las Vegas in 2019 (“R.U.N.” leaps to mind, not to mention Bleutech and Kaos), but awesome is infinitely more fun than stupid.

RUN

At least this isn’t a boob joke.

We can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store. Lots of in-progress projects are set to debut, including Allegiant Stadium, Circa, the Las Vegas Convention Center expansion, Virgin Hotel (being rebranded from Hard Rock), Caesars Forum conference center, Elon Musk’s tunnel (officially Jan. 2021, but fingers crossed) and others.

As long as you keep visiting, Las Vegas will keep creating awesome things and experiences, including some involving copulation with dolls. Allegedly.

14 thoughts on “20 Awesome Things That Happened in Las Vegas in 2019

  1. Vegas Insight

    Two of those things were meaningful to me in 2019. I visited during Halloween week and saw both the Hard Rock guitar and Gaga.

    I went to the Tim Burton exhibit on the night of Oct. 30. Fun way to see the neon boneyard for the first time.

    On Oct. 31 I saw Gaga. I get the appeal, but she isn’t my cup of tea. Good show, I enjoyed it, but I don’t have to do it again. And we got cheap seats… about $136 each. Her show must take in at least $1 million a night in box office revenue…never mind what some folks might pay on the secondary market.

    Some of the new shows/construction projects intrigue me, some are of little interest to me.

    Let’s hope Vegas remains a destination I can continue visiting for another 23 years.

    Reply
  2. Boulder Steve

    Sphere and Circa are each costing $1.2 million?. Such a deal. I think you may have mistaken the M key for the B key.

    Reply
  3. Nate

    I heard construction noise coming from the Drew today! Or demo noise either way they are finally definitely doing something over there.

    Reply
    1. Scott Roeben Post author

      That’s great to hear, although the rumor is they don’t have the funding to proceed, so who knows what these steps will amount to.

      Reply
  4. Ann Moody @hollsmom

    Merry Christmas Scott. Look forward to visiting the Neon Museum and telling my 14 year old daughter about the glory days of Vegas, and seeing the new Viva vision shows. Don’t get too drunk on NYE, but why should that be any different than any other day?

    Reply

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