Theme Park, Amusement Park and Attractions Industry News

Reinventing the wheel

Amusement industry think tank US Thrillrides claims to reinvent the way we have fun. This time, company founder Bill Kitchen is at it again. The creator of the Skycoaster, Skyventure, and Unicoaster has applied his ingenuity to reinventing the wheel, or rather the Ferris Wheel.

The SkyView could become the next generation of giant observation wheel, but what makes it so unique? In a paradigm shift of giant wheel proportions, the SkyView can be shaped in multiple unusual configurations. It’s unfathomable that IAAPA overlooked SkyView recently when handing out its Best New Product awards in Las Vegas.

“We like to think of it as Ferris Wheel 2.0,” says Kitchen, “it is more beautiful, stronger, and costs less than its predecessors.” Kitchen plans to erect and operate 300ft-tall versions of the attraction in Orlando and Las Vegas. Site negotiations are already under way in both cities.

The design is unusual in that the structure itself does not turn, instead the gondolas move around it on a chain-type mechanism. Heights will range between 200 to 600ft (60-180 metres) while at the same time requiring less ground space than older giant wheel designs. By comparison, the London Eye is 443ft tall.

The SkyView weighs around half that of some rotating wheels, chiefly because it does not have “spokes,” heavy support legs or a “hub” but it is designed to hurricane wind standards. A patent pending emergency access pod should meet all fire department requirements. The design allows for capacity numbers of up to 3,000 passengers per hour, accommodating patrons without a lengthy waiting period.

Passengers will travel in comfort aboard stylish gondolas with a capacity of six to eight people. All gondolas will be climate controlled and have a multimedia centre for guided sightseeing and interactive marketing opportunities, including the ability to interact with the lights on the wheel itself.

“SkyView can be customised in different shapes; it can be a circle, a pentagon, an oval or even a guitar pick, why not?” says Kitchen. The standard shape for the attraction is actually an oval, but one unidentified operator even asked if it could be shaped as mouse ears. Hmmm.

Its shape is further enhanced by a stunning light and sound show that can be fully programmed. Lights will make the stationary oval wheel appear to turn. The spectacle of a SkyView can be seen for miles making it a great eye-catcher and people magnet.

It’s now 10 years since the London Eye debuted in England’s capital city, and most manufacturers are still slavishly copying most of its attributes. SkyView takes the best of them; then tries to do something new. Could this be the shape of things to come?

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