The skyline of Las Vegas gained an interesting feature in 2014: the High Roller Observation Wheel. The 550-foot-tall wheel is technically a Ferris wheel, but its massive size goes far beyond anything seen at a county fair. Its cabins are designed to carry up to 40 people, and the views they offer are unparalleled, a true 360° view of the Strip and the Las Vegas Valley. The High Roller is the world’s highest observation wheel, and taking a ride on it is an experience you can only have in Las Vegas.
The High Roller is located at the Linq Promenade, which is roughly in between Venetian and Flamingo. It’s so large that it’s pretty much impossible to miss. Rides start at 11:30 a.m. and run until 2 a.m. For smaller crowds, the daytime rides are your best option. Once the sun is down and the neon is on, the High Roller gets busier.
When you reach the High Roller’s boarding platform, you might be surprised to see that the wheel does not stop. The movement is so slow that passengers can step inside the cabins as they rotate by, although it’s still a bit jarring when you first realize it doesn’t stop to allow boarding.
Once inside a pod, the gradual movement is largely imperceptible. The slow rise to the top gives you plenty of time to walk around the cabin to see the view from every perspective. The round pods, or cabins, are affixed to the structure of the High Roller, so there is no side-to-side movements. When you’re not gazing out at the view, you might take some time to check out the amazing structure of the High Roller. It’s an impressive bit of engineering.
Inside a High Roller pod — Photo courtesy of Terrisa Meeks
After your pod clears the buildings surrounding the High Roller, you’ll see the entire Strip come into view. Past the Strip to the west, you can see all the way to the mountains. To the east, you’ll see planes landing and taking off at McCarran Airport just a few miles away. Sunset is a spectacular time to take a ride, just as the hotels are turning on their outside lights and Mother Nature is putting on her own show with sunset. Night rides offer a spectacular view of the Strip in all its nighttime glory, and if you’re lucky, you might get a birds-eye view of the dancing waters of the Bellagio Fountains.
Be prepared to take a lot of photos. A sunset visit will work the best for most photographers in terms of getting the clearest pictures. A good mobile phone camera can also produce some good results, even if they aren’t as sharp, especially for the nighttime shots. During the day, watch out for glare and dirty windows. For the best results, do what the pros do and take a lot of pictures – your odds of getting something great are better if you maximize your number of attempts.
View of the Las Vegas Strip from the High Roller — Photo courtesy of Terrisa Meeks
The High Roller might seem like a natural attraction for families – and it is – but they also have an open bar cabin for guests over 21. Happy Half Hour tickets are available from 12 p.m. until 1 a.m. A 30-minute ride in the bar car costs $40 for a daytime ride and $55 at night.
If you’re thinking that the High Roller sounds like a great place for a bachelorette party, birthday or corporate event, the folks at the Linq are one step ahead of you. Private VIP cabins with customized experiences are available. The High Roller also offers wedding packages. On a regular basis, the High Roller even offers a yoga experience and a chocolate tasting.
The High Roller Observation Wheel — Photo courtesy of Terrisa Meeks
The High Roller is the centerpiece of the Linq Promenade, an open-air pedestrian area filled with shops and restaurants. Wandering through this area before or after a ride will turn up plenty of options for lunch or dinner that range from fast food to sit-down eateries. The Strip’s only In-N-Out Burger is at the Promenade. Yard House, Virgil’s Real BBQ and Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips are also located here.
If you have kids, a trip to the High Roller can easily become a fun afternoon outing. On the Promenade, The Linq offers a zip line, so the daredevils in your group will be pleased. The Flamingo’s Wildlife Habitat is just off the Promenade, and it offers a peaceful little retreat and actual flamingos. And the hotels immediately around the Linq have a good assortment of kid-friendly things to do, like Madame Tussauds, Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian and the Forum Shops at Caesars.
Once you’ve ridden the High Roller, be prepared to want to take a ride again. The gentle ascent to the 550-foot mark and the incredible views of the city are something most people want to see more than once. It’s a view unlike any other, in Las Vegas or elsewhere, and each time you take a ride, you’ll see something new, especially if you ride at different times of the day.
Daytime rides on the High Roller are $25, night rides $37. Nevada residents receive 50% off standard ticket prices with a valid Nevada ID. Military members receive $5 off with a U.S. Military ID, seniors over 65 receive $5 off and students get a 50% discount with a U.S. student ID. Purchasing tickets online offers a small discount, and discount sites frequently run coupons for the High Roller, so it pays to check around a little before your ride.