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National Harbor Announces Plans for a Giant Ferris Wheel

The so-called Capital Wheel will rise to 180 feet.

The Capital Wheel, whose architect is Brown Craig Turner of Baltimore, Maryland, will be 175 feet tall. Rendering courtesy of National Harbor.

Ever since London opened its 442-foot high London Eye for the millennium celebration in 2000, there has been a global race to build the world’s tallest Ferris wheel. The National Harbor’s planned wheel, announced on Thursday, won’t claim that title, but it may make up for its more modest height with some tempting amenities. The hotel and convention complex on the Potomac River in Oxon Hill, Maryland, said that in May it will open the 180-foot high Capital Wheel. According to a press release, it will have 42 “climate-controlled” gondolas that can hold a maximum of 336 people.

China and Singapore have wheels that rise above 500 feet, Staten Island hopes next year to open a 625-foot wheel, and Dubai—which has bragging rights to the world’s tallest building—says that by 2015 it will have a wheel that soars to 689 feet.

National Harbor promises its entry will feature a light show of 16 colors, catering by celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck, and a “VIP gondola.” The proposed ticket price is $15 per ride, but more for the VIP treatment.

The operating hours of the Capital Wheel, from 10 to 10, mean thrill-seekers can get both daylight and after-dark views of the riverfront, Old Town Alexandria, Reagan National Airport, Anacostia, the nation’s capital in the distance, and—when it’s completed in a couple of years on the same property—the 23-acre, 18-story MGM resort and gambling casino. National Harbor promises views of the Mall and the White House, but we’ll have to see that with our own eyes.

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