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September 2, 2014

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Photos: High Roller observation wheel at the Linq is ‘forever changing the skyline’

Image

Steve Marcus

The 550-foot-tall High Roller observation wheel turns in the evening Monday, March 31, 2014. The observation wheel, the tallest in the world, is part of the Linq project, a $550 million development by Caesars Entertainment Corp. The ride is now open to the public.

High Roller Observation Wheel Opens to Public

People ride in cabins of the 550-foot-tall High Roller observation wheel Monday, March 31, 2014. The observation wheel, the tallest in the world, is part of the Linq project, a $550 million development by Caesars Entertainment Corp. The ride is now open to the public. 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 »

High Roller at The Linq/Richard Corey

What a view!

After months of anticipation, media and VIPs were invited to preview the High Roller observation wheel alongside Caesars Entertainment executives, city officials and the High Roller Team this morning ahead of the first ticketed passengers at 1 p.m. at the Strip’s newest attraction between the Flamingo and the Quad.

The execs and VIPs christened the High Roller by breaking bottles of champagne, gathering for a group photograph and with bubbly toasting, “The Las Vegas High Roller — forever changing the skyline!” — then taking off for a High Roller ride.

A few notes, thoughts and questions post-High Roller ride:

At 550 feet, the High Roller is the world’s largest observation wheel (which is similar to a Ferris wheel but isn’t the same thing).

There are 28 white pods, or cabins, that hold as many as 40 passengers each for a 30-minute ride. I’m afraid of heights, but each cabin is comfortable, relaxing and cool (let’s hope this holds up in the scorching summer).

The High Roller is still moving as one enters and exits, with a net below for, um, people who don’t board properly (think of high-flying acrobats). I do wonder if this will be difficult for some children and senior citizens. My entrance was a tad wobbly, too.

There are TV screens in each cabin with a video tour and a lot of promotion for the Linq — just in case one forgets to stop by Sprinkles Cupcakes, Brooklyn Bowl, Chayo, Yard House and more after the ride. The screens also document the ascending elevation and at which part of the rotation you’re at on the ride.

I’m curious about the pricing and will do more research. What’s the admission for children (my 6-year-old niece would love this)? Family packages? It could get awfully expensive for a family.

My colleague Mike Prevatt, nightlife editor of Las Vegas Weekly, had the great idea of making a few of the cabins with a glass bottom for a one-of-a-kind view and VIP experience (think Ghostbar at the Palms).

Final question from a colleague onboard with me: What about people who’ve been to the top of the Stratosphere? The Eiffel Tower Experience at Paris? Mix atop The Hotel at Mandalay Bay? My immediate thought is that the High Roller is more family-friendly.

After the preview ride ended, we exited through the gift shop, and the line for the 1 p.m. debut riders was sizable. By 2 p.m., after a quick lunch at the nearby and new Flour & Barley, there was no line. That should change this weekend with the 2014 ACM Awards in town and concerts headlined by Florida Georgia Line, Rascal Flatts and Keith Urban at the Linq.

Larry Edwards, one of the talented stars of Frank Marino’s “Divas Las Vegas” at the Quad (he portrays Tina Turner and Beyonce), was one of the 1 p.m. ticketholders, but this was his second time on the High Roller.

As a Caesars Entertainment employee, Edwards and others received complimentary tickets to ride the High Roller over the weekend before it opened to the public.

“I am so excited,” he said. “I rode it a couple of days ago, and it was so relaxing and so beautiful up there. I’m trying it again. I want to experience it with the public and get their reaction.

“I only wish I could go at night, but it’s tough with my show to see the city at nighttime. So I’m taking advantage of the first time. This is a beautiful, scenic ride that we have here in Las Vegas now.”

Edwards, who was wearing an orange High Roller T-shirt, summed up, “Sooo excited!”

Now to return to ride the High Roller at night.

Don Chareunsy is senior editor for arts and entertainment of the Las Vegas Sun.

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

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

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

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