National Harbor Observation Wheel To Open May 23

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Rendering of the Capital Wheel with a daytime water view. (Courtesy of National Harbor)

Rendering of the Capital Wheel with a daytime water view. (Courtesy of National Harbor)

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LANHAM, Md. (WNEW) — The Ferris wheel that will provide views of some of D.C.’s most famous landmarks will open later this month, just in time for Memorial Day Weekend.

The Capital Wheel at National Harbor in Prince George’s County will open to the public May 23. The 180-foot-tall observation wheel will be based at the end of a new pier overlooking the Potomac River with views of the Capitol, National Mall and Arlington National Cemetery.

The 17-story wheel will be similar to the London Eye and other large-scale observation wheels around the world.

The $15 million attraction will include 42 gondolas with sound systems, heating and air conditioning. The VIP gondola — called National Harbor One — will seat four passengers and feature glass doors, wine chillers, leather seats, and a retractable DVD monitor. The other 41 gondolas will seat eight passengers.

Tickets will cost $15 for adults, $11.25 for children ages 3 to 11, and free for children 2 and younger. Tickets for the VIP gondola will cost $50 per person.

The wheel will be open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. through August. Planners said it will operate year round, and they expect it will attract 600,000 to 800,000 visitors each year.

National Harbor has been steadily adding to its collection of attractions. MGM Resorts International won rights to build a $925 million casino resort there overlooking the river.

The Capital Wheel will host public, corporate and private events, offering catering by Wolfgang Puck with seasonal fare at the base of the ride.

Facts about the wheel:
•Size: 175 Feet Tall (diameter of wheel is 165 feet)
•Visible from the Top of the Observation Wheel: Washington Monument, U.S. Capitol, Alexandria, Prince George’s County
•Number of Climate-Controlled Gondolas: 42 (including 1 VIP Gondola)
•Maximum Number of Passengers: 336 (8 per Gondola)
•Price (estimated): $15 per ride (VIP Gondola will cost more)
•Hours of Operation (estimated): 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., year-round
•Ride Speed: 1.5 rotations per minute
•Lighting: 1.6 million LED lights, fully programmable, with a spectrum of 16.7 colors
•Concessions: Wolfgang Puck Catering will operate concessions, and the Observation Wheel will be available for private party rental.
•Other Cities with Observation Wheels: London, Seattle, Niagara Falls, Brisbane, Perth, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Malacca Island, Pigeon Forge and Myrtle Beach.
•Manufacturer: Chance Rides, Wichita, Kansas
•Architect: Brown Craig Turner, Baltimore, Maryland
•Scheduled Opening Date: May 2014

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