LAS VEGAS – Tourists began taking in the view Monday from a skyline-changing observation wheel that offers a unique overview of sparkling Las Vegas Strip resorts, wide skies and craggy brown mountains in the distance.
Van Kim, an airline call center employee from Phoenix, declared the experience “unanimously awesome.”
Kim stood in line for six hours to be in the first gondola to complete the 30-minute ride on the 550-foot High Roller. Its height eclipses the 541-foot Singapore Flyer and the nearly 443-foot London Eye, and is expected to be the tallest in the world until planned Ferris-style wheels are completed in coming years in New York and Dubai.
“It’s probably the best view of the Strip,” said Kim.
Kim compared what he saw from his spherical pod with the panorama from an observation deck at the 1,148-foot Stratosphere tower, just 2 miles away. He said he liked the view better at the heart of the Strip.
The Las Vegas wheel is part of a $550 million restaurant, bar, retail and entertainment development built by casino giant Caesars Entertainment Corp. among its Flamingo, Harrah’s and renamed Quad hotel-casinos. The Quad used to be the Imperial Palace.
The outdoor pedestrian mall – dubbed LINQ – is across the Strip from the company’s flagship Caesars Palace resort.
It leads to the High Roller, resembling a big, white bicycle wheel with spoke-like cables.
From a distance, the motion of the wheel is nearly imperceptible. Its profile is unmistakable.
At night, it changes hues from blue to red to green to purple. Each of its 28 glass-enclosed and air-conditioned gondolas can hold up to 40 people.
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