February 11, 2008 / 12:29 PM / in 11 years

World's largest ferris wheel debuts in Singapore

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The world’s largest ferris wheel, the Singapore Flyer, made its first spin on Monday, offering passengers a bird’s eye view of the city-state as well as parts of neighbouring Malaysia and Indonesia.

The Singapore Flyer is seen from Marina City Park February 11, 2008. REUTERS/Pablo Sanchez

Over 700 executives from 17 corporations and their guests sipped wine and nibbled on salmon canapes while soaking up the view of the Southeast Asian city-state by night.

The inaugural rotation cost the companies a hefty S$8,888 (3,200 pounds) per capsule — a prosperous number according to Chinese belief.

“It’s different. It was very cool being able to see to Singapore’s golf courses from the top and the F1 (Formula One) pit being built,” said 16-year-old Joanne Chong.

Her father Winstedt Chong, a business consultant in his 50s, was less impressed. “I have sat on the KL (Kuala Lumpur) and Tokyo observation wheels, and the Singapore Flyer is not as beautiful. I hope they brush up on the lighting and decoration.” he said.

Standing at 541 feet high, the Singapore Flyer, which opens to the public in March, is 98 feet taller than the London Eye. However, both will be trounced in 2009 by the 682 feet Great Wheel of China in Beijing.

The Singapore Flyer, built at a cost of S$240 million, has 28 bus-sized capsules attached to a circular frame 150 metres (492 feet) in diameter. It can accommodate 28 people in each capsule and each ride will cost around S$30 a head and last 30 minutes.

Although the giant wheel’s grand opening will be on April 15, it will feature a series of soft launches in February to include a Valentine’s Day special for couples seeking a romantic view and a singles’ mingling session.

The Singapore Flyer is part of the city-state’s drive to boost tourism dollars to S$30 billion and attract 17 million visitors each year by 2015.

The city-state will also host a yearly Formula One race starting this year and is building two casinos at a total cost of over $7 billion.

Reporting by Melanie Lee; Editing by Neil Chatterjee and David Fox

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