Update: April Fools!
Over the past twenty years, urban observational Ferris wheels have resurged in major cities and have also been a competition of building superlatives – the “biggest” and “tallest.” If developers have their way, Vancouver will soon have the world’s tallest Ferris wheel located in Stanley Park.
The planned “Air Canada Vancouver Wheel” in Stanley Park will exceed the height of the proposed Ferris wheels in New York and Las Vegas as well as the Singapore Flyer and London Eye – the world’s two largest wheels. The 700-foot (213-metre) Stanley Park Ferris Wheel will be the world’s tallest when completed in the summer of 2017. It will be located at an large existing parking and maintenance lot next to the Rose Garden.
The Ferris wheel will cost private developers $210-million. Air Canada has been announced as the attraction’s presenting and naming sponsor as part of a 20-year sponsorship deal in exchange for covering $60-million of the construction cost.
It will be outfitted with 36 climate-controlled capsules, with each capsule just under the size of regular Translink bus and named after a BC mountain. Each capsule will be able to carry a maximum of 30 passengers. The wheel travels 0.24-metres per second or 0.76-kph. A complete rotation will take 43-minutes. Eight of the Ferris wheel capsules will feature glass floors and will be able to host special-occasion events, dinners, and cocktails.
Aircraft lights will also be installed onto the wheel given that the structure is near the flightpath of Coal Harbour’s seaplanes.
The developer has also offered up to $35-million in additional amenities for Stanley Park. This includes beautification improvements to the Rose Garden, major renovations to Theatre Under the Stars (Stanley Park’s outdoor amphitheatre adjacent to the Rose Garden) to convert it into a miniature world-class Hollywood Bowl, free year-round bus tours of the park and horse-drawn rides. A free bus shuttle will also run between Waterfront Station and the new attraction daily every 15-minutes from 9 am to 9 pm, complementing existing transit service to Stanley Park.
The Rose Garden parking and maintenance site was chosen due to its minimal environmental impact. The new buildings and attraction will be built entirely within the constraints of the existing large developed site. More importantly, no trees will be cut (trees will be relocated if deemed required for construction) although the development’s impact on wildlife has not been addressed at the time of publication. The existing park maintenance facilities will be relocated to an underground facility on site.
Project proponents have also offered $10-million to the Stanley Park Ecology Society. However, there is no doubt there will be much opposition to the project from those concerned about the impact to the Park’s environment and ecology.
When the project was first proposed to the City, several other sites were considered: the Plaza of Nations at False Creek, Queen Elizabeth Park at Little Mountain, and Harbour Green Park next to the Vancouver Convention Centre. However, developers preferred a site that was unobstructed by buildings and will give passengers a 360 degree view of the entire region.
It came down to choosing either the Queen Elizabeth Park site atop Vancouver’s Little Mountain or Stanley Park. In the end, Stanley Park was chosen given its status as a world-class attraction, its close proximity to Downtown Vancouver and other attractions, and the location’s superior and unobstructed views. The Stanley Park location for the Ferris wheel is unparalleled and will offer breathtaking panoramic bird’s eye views of the entire region and harbour.
If approved by the Vancouver Park Board, construction on the entire complex will begin in mid-2015 for a early-2018 completion. The Ferris wheel will become one of Vancouver’s premier attractions and is forecasted to attract 1.7-million riders by the end of its first year. It will also have a spillover effect on other Stanley Park attractions, particularly the Vancouver Aquarium (also located at Stanley Park) which forecasts an annual attendance increase of 30% upon the opening of the Air Canada Vancouver Wheel.
A single ride will cost $35.00 for adults and $20.00 for children (a special $80.00 family pack is available for a family of 2 adults and 2 children). Special admission fees of $25.00 are also available to seniors and post-secondary students with photo ID.
The Air Canada Vancouver Wheel is anticipated to attract not just tourists as the city’s “must-see” attraction but also locals as well. Operators expect the Ferris wheel will be a big hit among lovebirds. After all, there is something inherently romantic about riding a Ferris wheel.
Written and researched by Kenneth Chan, the Deputy Editor at Vancity Buzz. Follow Kenneth on Twitter at @kjmagine.