Vegas Builds the World’s Largest Observation Wheel

Las Vegas will soon be home to the world’s largest “observation” wheel. The Las Vegas High Roller—made of three and a half million pounds of steel—will be nine feet taller than the Singapore Flyer and 107 feet taller than the London Eye.

The High Roller is one of the main attractions in The LINQ, a new $550 million outdoor retail, dining and entertainment area, similar to the current Freemont Street Experience. The LINQ is being built by Caesars Entertainment Inc.

The 550-foot High Roller wheel—which is designed to create a striking image on the skyline—will take 30 minutes to make one revolution, offering riders a spectacular view of Las Vegas, but with a potential 1000-plus riders on board at any given time, engineers are taking extra precautions with the design.

The foundation needs to be secure enough to handle strong winds and possible earthquakes. The materials used must be able to withstand harsh weather conditions during over years and maintenance needs to be easy and safe to perform.

The High Roller will rotate about a pair of custom-designed bearings, each weighing approximately 19,400 lb, the largest spherical roller bearings ever produced by Swedish manufacturer SKF.

“The Las Vegas High Roller is a complicated engineering feat,” says David Codiga, executive project director of The LINQ. “Only a handful of manufacturers in the world are capable of supplying products of this scale and complexity, and we are pleased to have SKF on our team to create the world’s largest and most dynamic observation wheel.”

The wheel contains 28 spherical cabins, built to hold as many as 40 passengers each, and are made completely of glass. The cabin mechanism is held in a single steel ring, allowing for a greater 360-degree view. Every cabin has a solid floor – good news if you’re scared of heights.

The 112 cables on the wheel—provided by manufacturer Freyssinet—have a breaking force equal to 550 tones.

Passengers will enter the wheel from a three-story building, which, the wheel’s designer says, will be like “the world’s hippest airline terminal,” with media elements to keep impatient visitors entertained while they wait to board. The cost of a ride hasn’t been determined yet, but it will probably be in line with the Singapore Flyer wheel’s price of $25 per ride.

The High Roller is scheduled to be complete in 2013 and Codiga says Caesars has already gotten inquiries from people interested in weddings in the sky.

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Photo courtesy of Caesars Entertainment

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