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New Ferris Wheel Lights Up Washington DC Area

New Ferris Wheel Lights Up Washington DC Areai
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June 02, 2014 9:47 PM
A new Ferris wheel is lighting up the Washington D.C. area. Known as the Capital Wheel, it’s one of the few observation Ferris wheels in the world right on the water. VOA’s Deborah Block takes us along for a ride.
Deborah Block
— A new Ferris wheel is lighting up the Washington area.  Known as the Capital Wheel, it’s one of the few observation Ferris wheels in the world right on the water.

The Capital Wheel soars 55 meters above the Potomac River with panoramic views of the Washington, D.C. area.

Local resident Lashonda Johnson says she got a new look at a region she knows well.  

“We saw the Capitol and all the historical museums, and traffic," she said. "It was just peaceful.”

The Ferris wheel is located just outside Washington in Oxon Hill, Maryland at the National Harbor, a development with shops, restaurants and hotels. The 42 gondolas hold 336 people and have heating and air conditioning. The idea is for people to relax and enjoy the ride says Kent Digby, Operations Director for the National Harbor.

“It’s very smooth, so if you weren’t paying too much attention you wouldn’t really notice that you’re moving and that’s all part of trying to make people comfortable and make sure that they understand that they’re very safe,” he said.

The cost is $15 per person for a 15-minute ride.

Mark Poliquin, who came from the state of Connecticut with his family says it was worth it.

“Top of the line, air conditioned cabs, they’ve got music playing,” he said.

The $15 million attraction was built in the United States but some pieces are from Germany and the gondolas came from Switzerland.  It’s reminiscent of Ferris wheels like the London Eye, which was the world's tallest Ferris wheel until 2006.  Today, at 167 meters high, the recently opened High Roller in Las Vegas has that distinction.  Just behind are the Singapore Flyer and Star of Nanchang in China.

Chinese tourist Qumae Yang loved the scenery from the Capital Wheel.

“It has a beautiful view,” she said.

Bulgarian Yavor Todorov  says his children wanted to go on a ride, but admits he had a good time as well.  

“It’s exciting.  You can see the whole Washington, D.C.,” he said.

Each gondola seats eight people, except for one special VIP car which holds four.  There, for $50 per person you can bring a bottle of wine.

“I call it our little Ferrari.  It’s all red and black leather and it’s pretty slick with wine coolers and its own pop-up TV and I’m sure more than one person will get engaged on a ride,” said operations director Digby.

Another treat, Digby says, is the light show on the Ferris wheel, which can be programmed into thousands of different sequences.   

“Over 1.6 million lights and they can light up in any different color of the rainbow,” he said.

The Capital Wheel is open every day and is expected to draw up to 800,000 people the first year.

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