Monthly Archives: March 2014

Las Vegas Ferris Wheel Opens, Takes Our Breath Away

It’s been two years in the making, but the High Roller Ferris wheel in Las Vegas has officially opened to the public, and this spectacular attraction promises to change the way we see the Las Vegas Strip forever.

High Roller Ferris wheel

You thought we were kidding?

Caesars Entertainment provided a couple of days of free rides to employees and members of the public, presumably to work out any kinks in the process of welcoming guests to the High Roller. We didn’t notice any kinks during our visit, so whatever they did worked.

There were throngs of people in The Linq shopping and entertainment district, many drawn by the 550-foot tall observation wheel.

Tickets are now available online. How much to ride, you’re asking? Finally, we know for sure. Prices have initially been set at $24.95 for daytime rides and $34.95 for rides at night. Hint: Splurge and go at night! Even better, sunset!

Las Vegas Ferris wheel

Express Pass: Ride any time, one day, skip the line. One- and Three-Day Flex Passes let you ride one time during a one or three-day window. Group rates start at $23.95 per person.

The High Roller will be open 365 days a year.

The whole High Roller operation appears to have been thoroughly thought through, so the waits are short, and guests are provided with various diversions (like artwork and video presentations) while they wait.

High Roller welcome

This mural shows off the High Roller and all the Caesars Entertainment hotels in Vegas. Note “The Quad” doesn’t appear because the hotel is going to be given another name soon. Mark our words!

While guests can’t bring outside drinks onto the High Roller, they can bring along drinks purchased at the bar inside the attraction’s “wheelhouse.” Hey, this giant-ass wheel isn’t going to pay for itself.

The bar was hopping!

High Roller bar

Cocktails were in the $9 range, so not outrageous for The Strip.

It should be noted that the High Roller Ferris wheel doesn’t have restrooms in its passenger capsules. The ride takes 30 minutes, so make sure to look for this sign before you get onto the ride!

High Roller wheel

You’re welcome.

Loading up passengers into the wheel’s cabins is an interesting feat.

The wheel doesn’t stop revolving, but moves very slowly (.89 feet per second, to be exact) so riders have the chance to enter the passenger capsules on one side while riders finishing their ride exit on the other side.

Las Vegas Ferris wheel

There’s a net, so don’t freak out.

Yeah, it’s complicated, so here’s a magnificently slapped-together video that might illuminate the process, as well as giving some sense of the incredible views from the High Roller.

The views from the High Roller are sure to take your breath away. If you love the Las Vegas Strip, it’s like seeing it for the first time all over again.

Las Vegas Ferris wheel

Those of us with a thing about heights are allowed to have a minor freak-out at this juncture, but it passes.

A ride on the High Roller is a great way to get a peek at The Linq itself.

Linq Las Vegas

That’s pretty much the whole Linq district, right down there. The Linq sits between The Quad and Flamingo Las Vegas. Yes, it’s basically an alleyway, but a very fancy one.

Our only gripe about our whole High Roller experience had very little to do with the High Roller and a lot to do with other human beings. Please, if you ride the High Roller, don’t be a window hog. We had about 30 people in our “pod,” and two delightfully oblivious people stood right in the best spot at the window and never moved an inch during the entire half-hour ride. Yes, there are 360-degree views, but certain spots are just plain better. Rude. We’re thinking these passenger pods should have been built with a eject button.

Las Vegas Ferris wheel

The high point of the ride is, you know, the high point of the ride.

The High Roller ride is silky smooth, and the whole time you’re in this engineering wonder is a tad surreal. Because the wheel’s rim is so thin, when you stand at the sides of the passenger capsule, it’s as if you’re floating in midair.

As many surmised, there are a few minutes at the beginning and end of the ride where you’re mainly looking at the backs of buildings, but that’s maybe 10 of the 30 minutes. Otherwise, you’re getting a stunning view of the world’s most beautiful city, all in a cozy, party atmosphere.

High Roller Ferris wheel

Sometimes, one’s love of the new overcomes one’s fear of the heights. Not referring to anyone specific here, of course.

Here’s a look at the history of the High Roller observation wheel, and we’ve got all the juicy facts you could ever need about this jaw-dropping new attraction on The Strip.

Our photo gallery may provide a small taste of what the High Roller Ferris wheel experience is like. But there’s only one real way to know. Hey, if we made it, anyone can make it. What are you waiting for?

High Roller Ferris Wheel Opens in Las Vegas

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High Roller Ferris Wheel Takes First Riders, Set to Open March 31

A long-awaited moment in Las Vegas is finally here!

The world’s tallest Ferris wheel, the High Roller at The Linq, has safely taken its first riders and will open to the public on March 31, 2014.

High Roller Las Vegas

Our other girlfriend.

The first riders on the High Roller are employees of Caesars Entertainment (the company that build it, along with the adjoining Linq shopping and entertainment district), and their families, who will be putting the wheel through its paces throughout the weekend leading up to the official opening.

High Roller observation wheel

The High Roller wheel is the latest addition to an already heart-stopping skyline.

The opening of the High Roller marks the culmination of a construction process that began in early 2012.

We’ve been watching the making of the High Roller every step of the way, including when the High Roller was little more than a couple of nubs protruding from the ground. (Technically, they’re called “plinths,” but let’s not get bogged down by “facts” or “details.”)

High Roller wheel

No, really, every step of the way.

Some quick High Roller facts:

googie The High Roller observation wheel is 550 feet tall.

googie It took 7.2 million pounds of steel to build the wheel.

googie The wheel is held together by 112 massive cables. Each cable is 225 feet long.

googie Each cable has a breaking force of 550 tons.

googie The High Roller has 28 passenger cabins, each capable of holding 40 people. That means it can accommodate 1,120 passengers at one time.

googie Each cabin weighs 44,000 pounds.

googie The final cabin was hoisted onto the High Roller in the early morning of Dec. 3, 2013. It was the 28th cabin to be put into place, but its cabin number was 24.

High Roller passenger pods

Shout-out to engineering geeks everywhere.

googie Fabrication of the wheel’s various parts took place in factories around the world, including in China, Japan, France, Sweden, Italy, Netherlands, Germany, Colorado and California.

googie The High Roller rotates on a pair of custom roller bearings. Each one weighs 19,400 pounds.

googie The High Roller takes about 30 minutes to take a full revolution. (No, there are no restrooms in the cabins. Plan accordingly.)

googie The wheel is lit with more than 2,000 LED lights.

googie The High Roller has a design life of 50 years, and was built to withstand 650,000 revolutions.

googie Prices for the High Roller haven’t been announced, but they’re expected to run in the $30 range, depending upon the time of day or night.

googie The High Roller Ferris wheel cost about $175 million to build.

Heartfelt congrats to everyone involved with this stunning new addition to the Las Vegas experience.

Now is as good a time as any to dive deeply into our massive archive of High Roller photos and wonder at this latest example of Las Vegas OMFG.

Please bask in the magnificence of our exclusive High Roller photo gallery.

High Roller Observation Wheel Las Vegas

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Cowgirl Up Cantina Nears Completion at Binion’s Las Vegas

A new outdoor bar, Cowgirl Up Cantina at Binion’s, in downtown Las Vegas, is nearing completion.

Cowgirl Up Cantina

Too many bars is never enough downtown.

The new outdoor bar has windows so players in the casino can still see the lights of the Fremont Street Experience.

Cowgirl Up Cantina

We’ll drink to that. Very soon, in fact.

Once open, in the next week or two, the Cowgirl Up Cantina at Binion’s will offer one of the best views downtown.

Cowgirl Up Cantina

A little neon was sacrificed, but there’s a lot more where that came from.

We can’t wait to have our first cocktail at this outdoor watering hole in one of the best locations on Fremont Street. Or possibly anywhere.

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The Exclusive Scoop on the Greatest Las Vegas Keepsake, Ever: Casino Felt T-Shirts

In the past, as visitors returned home from Las Vegas trips, there were certain things they just had to take home. Dice clocks. Shot glasses. Playing cards. Swizzle sticks. STDs. You know, classics.

There’s a brand new novelty collectible that’s about to crush them all, however: T-shirts made with felt from casino table games.

Vegas Felt T-shirt

Once you stop kicking yourself for not coming up with this idea, just take a moment to revel in the splendor of it.

We first heard of this brilliant idea a couple of years ago when we bumped into the the creator of the T-shirts, Seth Debowy. He’s the Owner and President of the Vegas Felt Company, but we would add a little something to that title: Flipping Genius.

Two years later, Debowy’s dream has finally become a reality, and the shirts are popping up in places like the Sky Shop at The Linq.

We decided to find out more about these epic T-shirts straight from the source.

Vital Vegas: It’s hard to express how much we love these shirts. Where did the idea come from?

Seth Debowy: Thanks, I am really proud of the first group of shirts. The idea came to me two years ago. I have always been interested in authentic collectibles of all kinds. When I found out that casinos discard table layouts after they get cigarette burns or stained or just worn out, I thought it would be really cool for people to be able to take a part of the gaming experience home with them. I liked the recycling aspect of the project, also. Like so many good ideas, it came to me in my garage while my wife Kristin and I were chatting about unrelated topics.

Vegas felt tee

Yes, we have a blog crush on a T-shirt. Don’t judge.

Vital Vegas: Two years! What took so long?

Seth Debowy: Since nothing like this has ever been done before on the retail market, every step was an industry first. Legal issues had to be addressed and contracts had to be drawn. During this time all the logistics had to be figured out step-by-step. I had no game plan to follow. It was really building the process from the ground up. All these things take time. The longest however was waiting for the legal contracts to be drawn.

Vital Vegas: What’s your background? Have you ever done anything like these products before?

Seth Debowy: I would like to say “yes,” but I have never done anything even remotely close to this before. My background is in radio and television. Before I moved to Vegas in 2007, I was the morning drive general talk show host out of Elmira Heights, New York. My show was called “Seth in the Morning.” It was also broadcast on the local UPN television station in a half-hour show with the same name. The show was current events/call in and I had many politicians from local to national, authors, celebrities, and all other types of newsmakers. I had a large geographic audience that extended into central New York and Pennsylvania. One of the funny things was my show reached Cornell University so I had to keep my facts straight all the time. On a couple of occasions when I had a technical question I would toss it out to the audience and would have a professor from Cornell call with the answer. Before that I was in Buffalo radio, WGR and WBEN. At one point, I worked as an intern for the Howard Stern show at WWOR TV in Secaucus, New Jersey.

Vital Vegas: How many shirts were produced, using how many felts?

Seth Debowy: The current production was small due to the fact we had to introduce it to the market. In the current production run, only 576 shirts in the stores now were made. The size and shape of the cutouts determines how many felts are needed for the production.

Vital Vegas: What were some of the challenges of producing the shirts?

Seth Debowy: There were many, but mostly technical. In the very beginning, I had to sell the idea to many people without pictures or samples. Just the concept. I was lucky in that, at every step, those I talked to loved the idea and were interested in proceeding. Since these products are recycled, and collectible, and just cool, it appealed to a large group. There’s nothing quite like this on the market now.

Vital Vegas: Are there four designs at the moment?

Seth Debowy: There are just four designs at the moment due to the small initial shipment. Of course, we already have many more items and designs ready to go in the future.

Casino felt T-shirt

Like we can choose. One of each, baby.

Vital Vegas: These are washable, right? Doesn’t felt shrink? Any other special care instructions people should know?

Seth Debowy: The items are washable, with care instructions on the label. Nothing unusual. Wash in warm water, etc. Think of how many drinks and just general abuse the fabric gets while it is on the table. It is a lot stronger and durable than people think. We, of course, wash it before it gets put into production so the items are clean when sewn onto the shirts.

Vital Vegas: We looked for a craps felt, but only roulette felts are being used. Could you talk a little about that?

Seth Debowy: Sure, the retail department at Caesars Entertainment felt using the recognizable roulette pattern would be best for the initial shipment. All table games will be used in future items, so if you’re a blackjack or craps or baccarat player, have no fear.

Casino felt T-shirt

You could always get a piece IN Vegas. Now, you can get a piece OF Vegas.

Vital Vegas: So, these are felts from actual Las Vegas casinos. Which ones?

Seth Debowy: This first shipment was from Caesars Palace. The future of this line will expand to many other casinos.

Vital Vegas: If the shirts become wildly popular, how will the supply of used felt layouts keep up?

Seth Debowy: First, let me say I hope it does become wildly popular. I have a stockpile of layouts in safe storage so we should be good for a while. The nature of the product puts us in the category of “limited edition” due to the fact it is not an unlimited amount of layouts, but we should be fine.

Casino felt tees

This answers the question: On a scale of one to 10, how do these T-shirts rate in terms of sheer Las Vegas awesomeness?

Vital Vegas: Where can people get them? Just in stores or online, too?

Seth Debowy: Right now, they are in the Sky Shop at the end of The Linq, in the Caesars Forum Store and at either of the Strip Store locations in Bally’s and Flamingo.

Vital Vegas: The price is $25, which isn’t much more than other shirts sold on The Strip that don’t have felt in them. How is that possible?

Seth Debowy: It isn’t. We actually lost money on this first shipment due to the fact that our production costs weren’t really figured out until we produced the items. That’s another reason you start with small shipments first. If you want one of these shirts, save some money and buy them now. Future prices will be slightly higher.

Vegas felt tee

Unrelated: The odds of finding a four-leaf clover is 10,000-to-1. You know, the same odds as finding a virgin in Las Vegas.

Vital Vegas: Any interesting stories about customer or store feedback? We hear people are looking for shirts with their lucky number or their favorite sports hero’s number.

Seth Debowy: It was always part of the attraction of these items to find your lucky number or match the number with your favorite sports hero, etc. We have heard of people looking for specific important numbers and since all the items are one-of-a-kind, due to the cutting process, it has become an interesting side story. People have also brought back items for people back home because they’re unique. Just think of all the people who slid those chips over the exact felt you can wear? Think of all the celebrities that touched it and all the stories shared over it. If only the felts could talk.

Vital Vegas: Anything else of interest people might like to know?

Seth Debowy: Just that no two items are exactly alike. In the future, we’re expanding into other items besides clothing and there are some very exciting prospects are on the horizon.

Thanks to Seth for taking the time to chat with us about these fun new products. The bottom line is if you love Sin City and the feel of casino table game felt, these T-shirts are the single best Las Vegas invention since free cocktails.

And you can’t wear a free cocktail on your flight back home. Because that would be weird.

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