London, your days as king of the big wheel are numbered. Las Vegas is coming for you.
Vegas is also coming for fans of ridiculously big carnival rides. Caesars Entertainment, the world’s largest casino company, will plant shovels in the dirt next month and start digging the foundation for a rotating upright wheel to outshine the London Eye, as well as the Eye’s more recent international rivals. The Vegas wheel’s name: The High Roller, what else?
The London Eye, which commands soaring views of London, the river Thames, Parliament and Big Ben, reaches to 443 feet at its apex. It’s the tallest wheel in Europe, and had been the tallest in the world after it was erected in 1999, until China’s 520-foot Star of Nanchang went up in 2006, followed by the current record-holder: the 541-foot Singapore Flyer, as of 2008.
The High Roller? It’s reaching for a towering 550 feet tall, only a hair taller than Singapore’s giant observation wheel. It’ll sit behind Caesars’ Imperial Palace and Flamingo hotels along an in-progress quarter-mile, $550 million food, clubbing and shopping stretch dubbed “the Linq.” The wheel itself looks to offer 32 giant-sized cars capable of holding 40 people each. Want to host an acrophobics-not-allowed birthday or bachelor bash while swinging around Sin City? You’ll probably be able to buy a ticket by the end of 2013.
Then there’s the question of “why.” To paraphrase Stephen King: Maybe it’s part of growing up American — dig the deepest, write the longest, build the tallest. Or you could just credit Vegas’ need to cast off its recession blues.
“It would be the centerpiece of a trip for a lot of people,” said Caesars CEO Gary Loveman in a USA Today travel piece. “They’re looking for the next thing to do.”
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