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Posted on 10/5/2012 by Margaret Braunling

photo courtesy avlxyz

In the first installment I told you about the London Eye, which started the new frenzy for orbicular bragging rights: I also mentioned the current champ, the Singapore Flyer (540 feet), and a whole list of noteworthy contenders, and there are twice again as many that might have been mentioned. Fine!
Let’s now look at the future of the Big Wheel, or Observation Wheel, as we’re now calling it, to differentiate it from the Ferris wheel we all grew up with. One thing that was learned from London’s Eye is these things are money magnets: They tend to occur in places frequented by folks with disposable income. They are super-visible; kids point to them from airplane windows, and if you miss seeing them there, they’re still visible from all over town. They are never confused with any other monument, and they seem to be promising fun and a good time; all of this happens with the lights off; when the lights go on folks come-a-running. Another, more recent, observation is “the bigger they are, the more people want to ride them, and the more people they can accommodate”, talk about a growth incentive. And, of course, local governments, who have to approve the plans, want their cut; gotta be better than parking meters.
Is it any wonder municipalities the world over are clamoring for that magic acorn that can be possessed by only one…. “world’s biggest”? Shanghai took a shot at it, and wound up with a space needle with pods climbing it like a trail of ants. Las Vegas claims they will soon do it with one of two ob wheels scheduled to go into production: the 500 foot Sky Vue which will have a light show truly worthy of Vegas, and the 550 foot tall High Roller which will set a new altitude record. We’ve gone all this time without mentioning Dubai, shucks! They had one on hold that goes to 610 feet, but the project was canceled. New York, Staten Island has a proposal before the city for a 600 foot wheel which may become the biggest. Beijing wants to erect an unbelievable 682 foot wheel from which one might be able to see the Great Wall on a clear day. Down south problems emerge: The Southern Star ob wheel in Melbourne was opened a mere 40 days before it started developing cracks, it is being disassembled in order to be rebuilt. In Malaysia they disassembled a perfectly good ob wheel in order to move it elsewhere. Visiting dignitaries from 2016 Olympic city Rio de Janero were so impressed with the London Eye they will consider adding a large ob wheel to their plans.

What goes around comes around (2EZ)
Margaret Braunling