A FOX5 viewer shared this picture taken March 29, 2014, from inside one of the pods attached to the High Roller. (JJ Pavlock/FOX5 Report It)
The 550-foot High Roller observation wheel anchors Caesars Entertainment's Linq entertainment district. (FOX5 FILE)
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -
The 550-foot High Roller wheel at the heart of the Las Vegas Strip opened to the public Monday after welcoming its first riders over the weekend.
Employees of the Linq entertainment district, which the observation wheel anchors, got to be among the first riders aboard the attraction. The High Roller, which is also touted as the world's tallest observation wheel, boasts 28 pods that can hold 40 passengers each.
"It's a new icon on the Las Vegas skyline, day and night," said Jon Gray, general manager of the Linq.
According to the wheel's owner, Caesars Entertainment, an official operating permit was obtained last week paving the way for the first rides, which were offered to the public at 1 p.m. Monday.
The build-up to the wheel's opening included hours-long transports of each 44,000-pound cabin from a warehouse to the Linq. The wheel is held together by 112 massive cables at 225 feet long each. In all, 7.2 million pounds of steel were used to build the wheel.
A daytime general admission ticket starts at $24.95, while a nighttime standard ticket costs $34.95.
"We were up there right now. You can see the snow on Mount Charleston, the planes flying into McCarran [Airport] at night. You can see the incredible landscape of the Strip. It's a marvel," Gray said.
Caesars also said each pod is equipped with air conditioning which should provide relief for summertime riders.
Caesars expects between 4 million and 5 million riders within the first year of operation.
"If they choose to charter a private cabin, we can roll a bar on there for them and have full-service. We anticipate proposals, and we have actually had one already," said Eric Eberhart, general manager of the High Roller.
The newly minted Linq entertainment district, which sits between the Quad and Flamingo hotel-casinos, is already in operation.
"It doesn't feel like a ride, it feels like you are floating in the beautiful structure. For anyone who's worried about heights, I would say give it a try. You're going to be very happy with it," said David Codiga, executive direct for Linq and High Roller.
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