By Jacqueline Monahan
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The Wheel in the Sky Keeps on Turnin’ - Journey

Don’t call it a Ferris Wheel!  It’s an Observation Wheel.  There are huge differences in speed, height, capacity, and design. You can’t rock the car; you can’t fall out.  39 people can share the high with you, and your stomach does not get that feeling of upheaval caused by a swift plunge.


Photo Credit: Alan White

Acrophobiacs take heart.  A ride in the High Roller is like being in a little round building that almost imperceptibly rises and descends to give you new perspectives on the Las Vegas skyline – day or night.

The floating “bubble” contains two orange semi-circular benches that flank opposite sides of the space, with room to wander in between depending on how many individuals have come along for the ride.  Each of the 28 spherical, Italian-handcrafted glass-enclosed cabins can accommodate 40 people, but as you can imagine, internal mobility decreases as the spectator count rises.  It’s hard not to spend the whole time pressed against the glass, or rotating yourself around to take in the 360 degree view of the Valley.


Photo Credit:  Jacqueline Monahan

You are reminded of being attached only when you see other cabins on higher or lower points of the wheel attached to spokes that hold you all an equidistant length from the center.  Each cabin weighs 44,000 pounds and is air-conditioned.  Eight video monitors keep track of elevation, play music, and offer a talking head cyber-guide who offers a snappy, humorous narration of what’s happening, what will happen, and pithy observations on your experience.


 Photo Credit:  Jacqueline Monahan

Cyber-guide promises to count down from 30 to the exact moment that the cabin is at its highest elevation, then says that 30 is too long, how about a countdown from five?  He promises to remember you forever, well at least for the next five minutes.  He’s really somewhere else to look for the guests who just can’t forget that they’re way up high, in the tallest observation wheel in the world (550 ft.).  Take that, London!


Photo Credit:  Jacqueline Monahan

From afar the High Roller looks like it’s standing still but actually it never stops moving. Boarding and exiting take place while the wheel is in motion.  It can be stopped, of course, but rarely is.  Most visitors just step on and off the platform and into the cabin, an action that is much slower than the motion of an escalator.

Visit on a weekday morning for mini crowds and maxi enjoyment.  Everyone gets a $5.00 discount for a day ride (up until 5:50 p.m.) so the 30 minute trip cost just $19.95.  Nighttime views will set you back $34.95 per person and include a light show of sorts.

Located at the end of The LINQ, the Strip's outdoor shopping, dining and entertainment district, the High Roller’s 30-minute ride (a full rotation) offers daytime sights of strip hotels and pools, McCarran Airport, and miles of urban and desert scenery.



Photo credit: Alan White

When the sun goes down, the lights come on, across the city and on the pristine white wheel itself.  It sparkles with more than 2,000 LED lights (from dusk until early morning) in hues of bright pink, turquoise, purple, green and white, as well as color combinations. The view spreads out for miles and miles no matter what time of day or night you choose to board.

1120 visitors can ride the High Roller at one time, and cabins may be rented out for weddings or private parties. The adjacent wheelhouse can be reserved for banquets and celebrations as well, but the real star twinkling on the horizon is the wheel itself, one of the best ways to get high in Las Vegas.


Photo Credit:  Jacqueline Monahan




Jackie-2 pp

Gettin' High in Sin City

Photo Credit:  John Hardin


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