The race for the title of the ‘World’s largest ferris wheel’ has stepped up a gear with New York City officially breaking ground this week on a spot near the Staten Island Ferry terminal.
NYC are in the running for the world’s tallest observation wheel, hot on the heels of Dubai who we know like to do things bigger and better than everyone else.
The Dubai Eye, a 690-foot wheel started erecting a week ago.
“Dubai are definitely ahead at this moment in time” said Wil Armstrong, president of Starneth LLC, an engineering firm working on both the Dubai and New York wheels “Although anything could happen to delay it”.
The New York wheel is estimated to open mid 2017 and is expected to host some 3.5 million riders each year for he 38 minute ride. The project, costing a whopping $500-million includes state-of-the-art technology in the climate controlled cabins, permanent bar cars, a 20-seat dining car, and a nightly light show. Next to the wheel will be a huge complex incorporating a 4D ride, a beer garden, an amphitheater and a hotel. The name of the hotel has not yet been disclosed.
The current world record for the tallest observation wheel is held by the 550-foot High Roller in Las Vegas. Of course. The High Roller is part of a $550 million restaurant, bar, retail and entertainment development built by casino giant Caesars Entertainment Corp. between its Flamingo, Harrah’s and Quad hotel-casinos. The wheel has 28 glass-enclosed, air-conditioned gondolas that each hold up to 40 people. A full revolution takes 30 minutes.
Regardless of whether New York or Dubai beats Vegas first, others are already queuing up to build higher, Starneth LLC already have 36 potential projects in the pipeline, themselves. New York and Dubai are part of a gold rush of giant observation wheels that have sprung up in the wake of the surprising financial success of the 15-year-old London Eye, which was originally built as a temporary novelty. The London Eye, now branded as the Coca-Cola London Eye, has seen more than 60 million visitors, according to a company spokeswoman. The wheel stands at 443 ft tall and when it was erected in 1999 was the world’s tallest.
The wheel in NYC is being built to boost its tourism numbers, in 2014 the city saw some 56.4 million visitors and is aiming to increase this to 67 million by 2021. The goal of the wheel is to attract some of the 3.6 million tourists who ride the free Staten Island Ferry each year for the excellent views of the Statue of Liberty.
But can New York really beat Dubai? Afterall, the latter does boast the world’s tallest building, the world’s largest shopping mall and the World’s first manmade island shaped as a giant palm tree. Dubai is known for unprecedented luxury and extravagance and for its ‘bigger and better’ attitude. The project is costing some AED 6 billion and is being constructed also by Starneth Engineering, the team who also built the London Eye. It seems that perhaps it is Starneth that is really competing against itself and not the countries themselves? The Dubai Eye will be located on Bluewaters Island, situated at the end of JBR and the marina. The Bluewaters Island will offer restaurants and bars, residential buildings and a souk and will be connected to the main city by a road.
One things for sure whoever steals the crown from Vegas will be a well deserving winner. Watch this space.