By Steve Beauregard
The new Las Vegas Ferris Wheel is called the High Roller. It opened to the public at 1 p.m. on April 1st, 2014. This new Las Vegas landmark rises to a height of 550 feet into the air. There’s actually another Ferris Wheel in the works called the “SkyVue” that may or may not be completed. (Scroll down to the bottom for more information on that project near Mandalay Bay.)
While I call it a Ferris Wheel, some people prefer the more contemporary term, “Observation wheel.” Either way, the High Roller is going to make a mark on the Las Vegas unlike any other.
And considering this is a skyline with a pyramid, the tallest structure west of the Mississippi, and a bright green, 5,000 room hotel, that’s saying quite a bit.
The High Roller is the centerpiece of the Linq Project.
This is the $550 million dollar retail, gaming, and entertainment complex that Caesars Palace Entertainment (owner of about 1/2 of the major resorts on the Strip), opened with 6 establishments on December 27th, 2013. The Linq is in between the Flamingo Hotel and Casino, and the Linq Hotel and Casino, (formerly known as the Quad and before that, Imperial Palace). While we don’t know the exact cost of the High Roller, a story in the Las Vegas Review-Journal stated that the wheel ate up roughly 1/3rd of the total cost of the Ling project. Assuming this is true, the construction costs of the wheel were in the $183 million dollar range.
The Linq features 300,000 square feet of space, (200,000 of which is leasable space), filled by over 30 different shops, restaurants, bars and entertainment choices, including the new O’Sheas Casino and Brooklyn Bowl. Other shops at the Linq include Kitson, along with several smaller, quirky shops.
With a height of 550 feet, this new Las Vegas Ferris Wheel is the tallest one in the world, topping out at just 9 feet taller than the current tallest Observation Wheel in the world, the Singapore Flyer in well…Singapore. By contrast, the London Eye is 443 feet tall.
The High Roller has a diameter of 520 feet. Various parts for the wheel have been built in all corners of the globe, from France to China. More locally, the cabins are being constructed by Leitner Poma of America, in its Grand Junction, Colorado facilities. They are known for their construction of chairlift, and ski area gondolas.
(Here’s some footage of the construction of the High Roller taken in mid December of 2013).
Designed in part by the Hettema Group, the High Roller has a total of 28 different cabins, which are all glass so as to offer unobstructed views of the Strip and landscape below. The wheel runs parallel to the Strip, and each of the Ferris Wheel’s 28 cabins have a capacity of up to 40 people, meaning the whole ride can hold up to 1,120 passengers. The pods are available for rent for parties, weddings, etc. and catering and drink service will be available.
Each ride lasts about 30 minutes. Official ticket prices for the High Roller are $26.95 and $36.95 at night. These are available for purchase at the 50,000 square foot complex beneath the wheel, as are drinks that you can take on the ride with you.
An executive who once helped develop Disneyland’s California Adventure, Eric Eberhart, was named general manager of the High Roller in late 2012.
SkyVue Ferris Wheel
As hard as it is to believe, Las Vegas had two giant Ferris wheels under construction simultaneously. Unlike the High Roller however, financing issues have plagued this lesser known attraction, causing construction to be delayed for awhile as contractor lien issues were sorted out. Having broke ground in the spring of 2011, the developer of this other wheel had promised that this Ferris wheel would open in late 2012, however as of now in 2015, the project remains stalled.
Dubbed, “SkyVue” this wheel is the High Roller’s little brother to the south, across the street from Mandalay Bay, and oddly close to McCarran International Airport. It also goes by the name Super Wheel.
Plans for the SkyVue Super Wheel were for it to rise to a height of 500 feet at a total cost of $300 million. SkyVue was to have 32 cabins, each of which could hold 25 people. The 39 acre site on which it sits was to also include a two story building at its base, which was to be full of shops and restaurants.
Unlike the High Roller, SkyVue plans had two 50,000 LED screens built into the center of it, on which owners planned to show ads. They also had planned to have concerts and sporting events shown on the giant monitor. But like I mentioned earlier, as of now, however, in 2015, all progress has stopped on the SkyVue, and even the two large concrete pillars have been removed.
Unfortunately, the High Roller’s reign as tallest Ferris Wheel in the world may be short-lived. Recent New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had introduced plans for the city to construct a 650 foot tall Ferris wheel on Staten Island. If built, it would be the tallest Ferris Wheel in the world, beating the new Las Vegas Ferris Wheel’s height by 75 feet. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Ramirez via Flickr).