Las Vegas has become as famous for its crazy attractions as it is for its gambling, fine dining and shopping these days. Several zip lines, bungee jumps and other stunts for only the strong-of-stomach are attracting tourists with higher-than-average thrill-seeking genes. Now a new attraction – the soon-to-be-completed High Roller observation wheel at The Linq, a new outdoor area being created on the Las Vegas Strip – will add another potential must-see experience to those visitors’ agendas.
Universal Designer On the Job
But putting such an extraordinary attraction together requires enormous planning and structural knowledge. That’s where former Universal Studios design executive David Codiga comes in; Codiga formerly led the design and development teams for a few of Universal’s Orlando theme park attractions, popular rides such as Jurassic Park, Terminator 2 and Spiderman 3D. In other words, he knows his stuff. He now serves as executive director for the Caesars Entertainment Corp.-owned Linq project.
The final pieces of this massive undertaking are now coming together. Twenty-three of the attraction’s 28 rim sections are in place, with the remaining five awaiting installation in just a few weeks. Once that happens, the temporary holding cables get replaced with permanent cables, struts and tension wires; it’s almost like building a bridge. And at $550 million, the High Roller wheel is costing Caesars Entertainment – the company that is building The Linq project – almost as much as one. That’s one million per foot: the wheel will be 550 feet (1/10th of a mile) high when completed.
Codiga has the skills and experience to pull it off, but even he is somewhat daunted at the scope of it all.
“I built ‘Islands of Adventure,’ but I don’t think I’ve ever worked on something like this,” the project designer said.
Safety Testing to Come
Besides the sheer technical know-how required, the High Roller overseer is responsible for the project passing the dozens of safety and technology inspections to come, all before a single rider can get on board. Once it does, the wheel will surpass the world-famous London Eye and Singapore Flyer in scope and size.
Codiga says the High Roller should start testing its operations in January, and that that could take up to three months of outside agency testing to complete. If all goes well, the new ride will be open to tourists some time in the first six months of 2014.
“We have a whole program outlined,” said Codiga; he is familiar with the testing process, having undergone the same basic procedures for his Universal designs in the past.
For now, passers-by can already see the High Roller taking shape; it’s visible as part of the larger Linq construction project going up on the east side of the Strip, between the Flamingo and what was formerly the Imperial Palace and now being rebuilt and reborn as The Quad. The glass passenger cabins are being designed to accommodate up to 40 passengers each.
The Linq is being billed as an ode to a New York City Meatpacking District urban streetscape, and is expected to officially open in February 2014. Its open-air promenade will feature 300,000 square feet of retail, restaurants and entertainment venues, and, of course, the High Roller above it all.