The World's Tallest Ferris Wheel Is Unlike Any Other

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This content was created in partnership with Aerial Cities, a new show on Smithsonian Channel that explores America's most prominent cities from breathtaking heights. Watch the series premiere on Sunday, April 8 at 8/7c.

Most of us visit Las Vegas for the nightlife, entertainment, and endless, endless gambling. However, next time you visit Sin City, skip the roulette table and try taking a spin on a different kind of wheel — the tallest Ferris wheel in the world.

Breaking Records

The fittingly named "High Roller" first graced the Las Vegas skyline in 2014. At a whopping 550 feet (167 meters) tall, this now iconic "observation wheel" broke the record for tallest in the world, surpassing the former world champion Singapore Flyer by just a few feet. It makes sense: with a skyline dominated by giant pyramids, faux monuments, and a blinding number of neon lights, to stand out on the Las Vegas Strip, you have to go big.

Ideas for the High Roller came about when Caesars Entertainment was devising the LINQ — a pedestrian mall, casino, entertainment venue, and hotel on the Vegas strip. The High Roller became the pièce de résistance of this ambitious project. It took two years of construction and $71 million, but the massive observation wheel now towers well above the city and offers an experience like no other of its kind.

This is hardly your standard Ferris wheel ride. The High Roller's 28 white, orb-shaped cabins are fully climate controlled and hold 40 people apiece, making it able to accommodate an impressive 1,120 riders at once. Moving at a continual pace of one foot per second, it lets passengers simultaneously enter and exit the cabins from a boarding platform so the wheel never needs to stop. At this pace, a spin on the High Roller lasts a full 30 minutes — the perfect amount of time to take in panoramic views of the Vegas skyline with a cocktail in hand. Oh, did we not mention the part about the open bar?

Happy (Half) Hour in the Sky

A ride on the High Roller includes more than just incredible views. From the moment you buy your ticket, the music is pumping and a pre-show is playing on a big screen. For a little bit extra, you can continue your Vegas indulgences in the sky by opting for a "happy half hour" in an open-bar cabin. Each of these cabins comes with a personal bartender and all-you-can-drink alcoholic refreshments. There's just one thing to keep in mind: there aren't any bathrooms in the cabins. You've got a full 30 minutes up there, so you may want to take a bathroom break before coming aboard.

But it's not all martinis and mischief up there. The High Roller ensures there's no lack of activities to enjoy from a bird's-eye view. On some mornings and evenings, you can take a yoga class via wireless headphones — and snap some truly #fitspiration worthy Instagram pics in the process. In Vegas to tie the knot? Take a pass on the ceremony with Elvis and opt for a private High Roller cabin to recite those vows. What can't you do from 550 feet in the sky?

To really admire the glamour of Las Vegas from a bird's-eye view, check out the series premiere of Aerial Cities on Sunday, April 8 at 8/7c on Smithsonian Channel or watch the first full episode now.

Written by Ashley Gabriel March 30, 2018
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