Las Vegas

Observation reel: Thoughts during our ride on the just-opened High Roller

A view from the top of the High Roller observation wheel during a preview ride Monday, March 31, 2014.
Photo: Steve Marcus

A lot goes through your mind when you're 550 feet up in the air. Like, "I think I see my house," and "Those 140 impossibly green acres behind the Wynn will be the dehydration of us all," and "Pretty sure this metal plate beneath my feet is a trap door."

Those thoughts and more came up during my half-hour ride on the Linq's record-breaking observation wheel, the High Roller, which officially opened today at noon. (Click here for hours and ticketing options, which range from a single-ride ticket to an unlimited access express pass.) Here are some others, in chronological order:

11:52 a.m.: (awaiting to board) I'm not sure what's more unnerving—that this wheel is at the end of the wind tunnel that is the Linq, or that Caesars thinks it can cram 40 people in a space no larger than my home's master bathroom.

High Roller at Night

11:55 a.m.: (watching Caesars and government VIPs enter a pod) Well, if this thing tips while I'm in it, at least Commissioner Steve Sisolak is going down, too.

12:01 p.m.: (boarding pod, door closing) How does my bladder fill back up in just 10 minutes without alcohol?

12:02 p.m.: Who's this annoying guy on the screens, and why do we need a tour guide on a stationary wheel?

High Roller Observation Wheel Opens to Public

12:03 p.m.: This perspective-shot view of the Linq is truly picturesque.

12:07 p.m.: Impressive—I can't feel myself move. Or maybe I'm just paralyzed from the fear of being this pod's first rider of the day.

12:09 p.m.: I wonder who will be the first members of the Tenth-of-a-Mile High Club.

12:10 p.m.: How am I already struggling to find an eye-level view not clouded by an oily forehead imprint? And seriously, bird droppings already? What are these windows going to look like at sunset?

12:12 p.m.: I'm sure it's no coincidence that Palazzo totally blocks the north end of the Valley.

12:14 p.m.: How have I heard Temper Trap's "Sweet Disposition" five times since arriving at the attraction? They might as well be playing "It's a Small World."

12:15 p.m.: We're at the 550-foot apex. Pretty impressive. And the former Fontainebleau isn't quite the eyesore it is from the top of the Stratopshere.

12:19 p.m.: With the High Roller so far back from the Strip and its skyscraping resorts, I no longer have a panoramic view of the west Valley. Guess I'll go back to looking at the Howard Hughes Center and the airport.

12:21 p.m.: Now that the wheel is operational, Caesars should consider some premium-pricing opportunities. I'm thinking pods with glass bottoms, pods lit up cosmic bowling-style for nighttime and pods that rock 180 degrees.

12:22 p.m.: The one premium service I'm definitely not suggesting: bottle service.

12:23 p.m.: Wow. I gotta sneak into the Flamingo's pool more often.

12:25 p.m.: This air conditioning system is no joke. It's only slightly warmer than a movie theater in June. Bring a hoodie or jacket until we hit 75 degrees, future riders.

12:27 p.m.: Yup, these pods can't possibly accommodate 40 people. There are 15 of us in here and the same jerk has bumped into me three times already.

12:29 p.m.: (wheel stops 100 feet from exit bridge, a pre-recorded announcement asks for our patience during this "minor abnormality") It figures that the ride would break down just as I was fantasizing about clean, unoccupied urinals.

12:30 p.m.: (wheel resumes moving toward exit bridge) Thank goodness. That breakdown was mercifully briefer the one I experienced on the Indiana Jones Adventure spider chamber.

12:34 p.m.: (on terra firma) Summary review of High Roller: Cool view, if limited at times. Comfortable ride. A unique chance for visitors to see that Las Vegas is far more than the Strip. Now that I've been on it during daylight, I'd like to re-ride at night, with all the lights. And an adult beverage. And the adult with whom I regularly suck face.

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