Round and Round
It looks like Dallas soon may have not one, but two mega-ferris wheels. The Dallas County Commissioners Court approved a new “observation wheel” project to be built near Dealy Plaza, yards from the site of the 1963 John F. Kennedy assassination.
The UK-based Great City Attractions joined the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau (DCVB) in support of an observation wheel measuring 174 feet high — still shorter than the Texas Star, the ferris wheel at the annual Texas State Fair which stands as North America’s tallest at 212 feet.
“It’s like there’s a race to have the tallest ferris wheel these days,” Weingardt said, mentioning planned projects in Las Vegas and Beijing to beat the 542-foot record holder, The Singapore Flyer. “There’s often a sense of community pride that comes with these wheels.”
The new structure will feature air-conditioned gondolas and multi-language audio tours.
“Nothing is official right now,” said Dustin Clark, director of public relations at the DCVB. “There’s a proposed start date of April 2012, but the project still needs city approval.”
An upcoming engineering study will examine the structural viability of the project, which is planned atop an underground parking garage.
One of the world’s leading builders of ferris wheels, Great City Attractions can have a project fully operational in as little as 10 days, thanks to its largely pre-assembled designs. Complete removal can happen in only a week’s time.
“Great City was looking to put a wheel in a major U.S. city, a first for the company,” he said. “They approached us a year ago and we’ve been going through the process ever since.”
While Big D is far from reaching the major leagues, he noted, the proposed observation wheel will face the same structural challenges as mega-wheels almost twice its size — particularly with regard to high winds and soft soil.
“It’s like there’s a race to have the tallest ferris wheel these days,” he said, mentioning planned projects in Las Vegas and Beijing to beat the 542-foot record holder, The Singapore Flyer. “There’s often a sense of community pride that comes with these wheels.”
“If it is a race,” Weingardt laughed, “China and Japan are clearly winning right now, but it seems the U.S. is starting to take an interest.”
Unlike the year-round observation wheel proposed for Downtown Dallas, the Texas Star will close for the season Sunday. Visit the State Fair of Texas website for details.