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October 20, 2014

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High Roller turns 100 days old; first 100 guests receive free ride

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STEVE MARCUS

The 550 foot-tall High Roller observation wheel, the tallest in the world, in shown Wednesday, April 9, 2014. The wheel is the centerpiece of the $550 million Linq project, a retail, dining and entertainment district by Caesars Entertainment Corp.

High Roller at Sunset

Alejandro Higuera of Mexico rides the 550 foot-tall High Roller observation wheel, the tallest in the world, Wednesday, April 9, 2014. The wheel is the centerpiece of the $550 million Linq project, a retail, dining and entertainment district by Caesars Entertainment Corp. Launch slideshow »

Aerial View of the High Roller

An aerial view of the High Roller at the Linq on Monday, March 31, 2014, on the Strip. Launch slideshow »
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2012 Miss Universe Pageant contestants and 2011 Miss Universe Leila Lopes with Jon Gray at the Linq on Friday, Dec. 7, 2012.

2012 Miss Universe Pageant: The Linq

Jon Gray and 2011 Miss Universe Leila Lopes at Linq on Friday, Dec. 7, 2012. Launch slideshow »

To celebrate the First 100 Days of the High Roller at the Linq, the first 100 guests today at 11:30 a.m. will ride free. Then from 4 to 7 p.m., a new daily happy-hour program is launched at the world’s tallest observation wheel for people paying $24.99 with open bar and bartender in cabin — that means as much as guests can drink for the 30-minute circle.

During its first 100 days of operation, the High Roller has set records, reached milestones and attracted riders from all walks of life. I had fun rounding up the facts and figures:

The High Roller has made approximately 3,870 revolutions.

The oldest visitor to ride was 99 years old and the youngest 2 weeks old.

As of today, 15 marriage proposals and seven weddings have taken place inside the High Roller’s cabins.

I had to ask if romantic things have reached the point where there’s been sufficient whoopee to have their own version of the Mile High Club.

Linq chief Jon Gray chuckled: “There is. I don’t know if it’s quite a club yet, but there are members. It’s not something we encourage at all, but we’re certainly amused by people’s behavior. I don’t get shocked at all, but amused for sure. It’s Vegas, after all.”

Guinness World Records officially recognized the High Roller as the world’s tallest observation wheel on April 17. To date, its LED lights have been programmed in honor of five holidays and special events.

The High Roller engineering team has made the 275-foot climb to the center hub of the wheel 65 times in the first 100 days to perform routine checks.

I asked Jon what his team and he have learned from the first 100 days. He told me: “We’ve learned that there are many ways to talk about the wheel as to what people are responding to. We’re taking a page from the success of the London Eye in explaining better what can actually happen inside the cabins. There’s so much stuff that can inside these cabins.

“They’re huge, so you can put 40 people in there. That’s such a scale, we are telling that as a better story. We talk about that more, and we’ve ordered more bars. Initially, we had four bars that could go on to the cabins, but we were selling out those things like crazy. We ordered more bars very quickly in the first 100 days because people like that overall experience.

“We’re going to start getting that out there more and more now that we have more bars that are accessible. We’ve ordered more of them, and we are up to 10 bars now in cabin. We only had four to start. It’s Las Vegas, you know, it’s a great in-cabin bar experience, and people like the whole Las Vegas side of it.

“It’s a very social experience to ride the High Roller, and we learned that right away. At full capacity, we have 1,120 people, which works out to 2,240 per hour.”

Does it ever shut down for weather, thinking back to the Fourth of July Weekend thunderstorms?

No, we didn’t shut it down for that. We had a couple of stops for some high winds one day, but other than that, no. It can sustain it. It’s just more of a passenger comfort thing. It would shut down if lightning ever got too close to it, but we’ve been good in the first 100 days of no lightening near it.

What’s the pricing you have established now?

Nighttime pricing is $34.95. We’re running a special summer promotional price of $19.95 for the daytime rides. We’re introducing this week a happy-hour price, so from 4 to 7 p.m. for $24.95, you can ride in a cabin with a bar, and it’s an open bar, meaning you drink as much as you like in the 30-minute rotation.

What stands out from the first 100 days?

I definitely think the interest from the celebrities who have ridden the wheel. It’s become a celebrity hotspot because they have this bar and group experience. The feedback from the celebrities has been great. Everyone’s like “wow.” They just love the in-cabin experience with the bar.

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Celebrity riders have included Mindy Kaling, Jerry Seinfeld, Shania Twain, Tyra Banks, Sharon Osborne, LeVar Burton, Giada De Laurentiis, Rascal Flatts, Ryan Getzlaf, Rachel Brenchel, Slade Smiley and Gretchen Rossi, Liu Xiao Qing, Olivia Newton-John, David Copperfield, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Terry Fator, Dina Titus, Dean Heller, Charles Rangel, 2013 Miss Universe Gabriela Isler, Vivica A. Fox, Frank Marino, Bob Iger, Lance Bass and Michael Turchin, DreamWorks chief Jeffrey Katzenberg and cast members of “Jubilee,” Recycled Percussion, “Jersey Boys,” “Million Dollar Quartet,” “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding” and “Defending the Caveman.”

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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