Next year, when Las Vegas’s CaesarsPalace debuts its 550-foot High Roller, it will be the tallestFerris wheel in the world—for a very brief period of time. Afterall, by the end of 2015, New York City will boast the New YorkWheel, which will reportedly reach 625 feet, and the United ArabEmirates will unveil the Dubai Eye, which will edge them all out at689 feet.
Turns out, this one-upmanship is nothing new. Indeed, theoriginal 260-foot wheel designed by George Ferris for the 1893World's Fair in Chicago was intended to outshine anotherengineering marvel across the Atlantic—the still-new Eiffel Tower.And ever since, one of the motivations for building “observationwheels” has to been to outdo another city’s wheel.
Don’t want to wait until 2015 for the next world-champion wheel?Check out this bucket list of the world's most interesting wheels—impressive not just for their heights but also for their cool backstories and architectural flair:
Navy Pier Ferris Wheel: Chicago
The 150-foot wheel at NavyPier is the closest thing to the original Ferris wheel built inChicago in 1893. While it’s a wee bit shorter than the World's Fairwheel, which went out of operation in 1906, this near-replica stilloffers show-stopping views of the Windy City and its lakefront.Admission: $6.
The Big-O Ferris Wheel: Tokyo
This 197-foot-high wheel in the Japanese capital—located inshopping-and-entertainment complex Tokyo Dome City—sets itselfapart by having no spokes or center axle. To flaunt the airystructure, one track of the Thunder Dolphin roller coaster cruisesright through its center. Admission: $8 per person.
The London Eye: London
The tallest wheel in the world when it debuted in 2000, the442-foot LondonEye has been the modern forerunner of year-round, city-landmarkFerris wheels that become major attractions in their own right.(During 2009, the Eye brought London a whopping $25 million inadmission fees.) From the top, you can see about 25 miles in anydirection, including all the way to Windsor Castle. Admission: $100for a family of four; $30 per adult ages 16 and up; $24 forseniors; $19 for kids ages 4 to 15; free for ages 3 and under.
The German word reisenrad translates to “big wheel” andthis 210-foot big boy at Vienna’s Wurstelprater amusement park was,for a while, the tallest in the world. Today its holds the braggingrights of a survivor: built in 1897 for the Golden Jubilee ofEmperor Franz Josef I, it has made it through two wars (though itburned during WWII) and was featured in the 1949 classic film “TheThird Man.” Admission: $12 for adults; $5 for kids.
The Texas Star: Dallas
Until Vegas’s High Roller lights up in 2014, this 212-foot wheelwill still be the tallest in the U.S. It’s been that way since1985, when it was built (and adorned with 16,000 red-white-and-bluelights) to commemorate the Lone Star State’s sesquicentennial. Thecatch: This wheel operates exclusively during the TexasState Fair (this year, from September 27 to October 20).Admission to the fair: $17 per adult; $13 for kids 48 inches orshorter.
(MORE: CheckDallas best hotel rates)
The Tianjin Eye: Tianjin, China
The 394-foot wheel built in 2007 may not be the biggest on theplanet or even the biggest in China, but it is the only Ferriswheel in history to be built atop a bridge. At night, the wheel isilluminated and reflects off the Hai River. Admission: $11 peradult; $6 per child.
Wonder Wheel: Brooklyn, NY
Designed in 1920 by the Eccentric Ferris Wheel Company, this150-foot wheel at Dino’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park in ConeyIsland is a little idiosyncratic, in that some cars areattached outside the wheel (like most Ferris wheels), and someslide inside the frame. Admission: $7 per person. Note: you canalso ride its much younger replica, Mickey’s Fun Wheel, at Disney’is California Adventure park in Anaheim.
KatrinaBrown Hunt contributed this to MiniTime.com.
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