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Gary Trask

Gary  Trask
Gary serves as Casino City's managing editor and has worked as a writer and editor more than 20 years. The Boston native was a member of the Poker Hall of Fame's inaugural Media Committee and a current member of the Women in Poker Hall of Fame voting panel.

Contact Gary at and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityGT.

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Top 10 tips and takeaways from riding the High Roller in Las Vegas

14 Nov 2016

By Gary Trask
On 28 February 2014, the High Roller was added to the iconic Las Vegas Strip. Almost three years later, the striking observation tower is just as iconic as the Stratosphere Tower or the replica Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas.

A few weeks ago, I finally jumped on board one of the pods to get the best view of Las Vegas and, like most people you talk to after the experience the High Roller, I highly recommend you do the same.

And, when doing so, keep in mind the below helpful tips, facts and takeaways as you snap some of the most scenic images your iPhone has ever taken.

10. Hit The LINQ Promenade before or after
As mentioned back in the summer in our Top 10 Las Vegas Trip Tips column, I have become a big fan of the new The LINQ Hotel & Casino Promenade. Serving as a trendy pathway from The Strip to the High Roller and located in between The LINQ and Flamingo Las Vegas, the new entertainment district has a wide array of restaurants, bars, museums, galleries and shops, with live music, entertainers and great "people-watching."

So if you're heading to the High Roller and you haven't been to the Promenade, make sure you take it all in before and/or after. It's become a definite "must-visit" for visitors to Las Vegas.

9. Ride at night
The price for a High Roller ride increases at night (more on that later), but it's definitely worth splurging for. Just like when your flight arrives during the evening hours, the city is that much more impressive under the big lights.

My High Roller crewmates and I were fortunate enough to have the Bellagio water fountains sprouting in unison as we hit the apex of our ride.

Quick photo-taking tip: Shut off the flash. Each pod is made of 300 square feet of Italian-handcrafted glass and the reflection is too much to overcome for your camera on evening rides.

8. It never stops moving
Like the city it sits in, the High Roller is always moving, even as you board and exit your pod, and after the last ride of the day at 2 a.m. For 24 hours a day, it moves about one foot per second and the entire rotation takes 30 minutes.

7. Heavy machinery
According to reports when it opened, the High Roller was roughly responsible for one-third of the complete cost of the entire The LINQ project, which had a price tag of $550 million. So, it's a safe bet that not a lot of corners were cut in building it, and you and your friends are most certainly safe thanks to some serious reinforcements.

The High Roller is held up by two massive bearings weighing 19,400 pounds each, and the 112 cables inside the wheel would stretch out to 25,256 feet, a mere 4.8 miles.

6. The lighting is versatile
The staple color of the High Roller's 2,000 LED lights is a shiny blue, but it can also illuminate in different colors with multiple shades around the rim. It also frequently has custom displays for holidays or special events or moments in time:

5. Pods are futuristic
As you would expect, the High Roller pods are pretty sleek. There are 28 in total and each one weighs 44,000 pounds. They are 225 square feet and include eight flat-screen TVs and an iPod dock. Each pod can fit a maximum of 40 people, so, do the math, and the High Roller's full capacity at one time is 1,120 people.

4. Take advantage of special offers/deals
The basic price point of The High Roller is $23 for daytime (11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and $37 for evening (6 p.m. to 2 a.m.). Children under 12 are free and youths (ages 13-17) pay $17 for daytime and $27 for evening rides.

Before buying your ticket, make sure you keep an eye on special deals, Groupons and other offers. For instance, on Veterans Day and Memorial Day, active or retired U.S. military members ride for free. Runners in last week's Rock 'N Roll Marathon got 50% off all weekend. There are annual passes available for $79, specials are available if you prepay for your ticket online and locals receive a 50% discount.

Bottom line: The High Roller can be affordable for all budgets, so take advantage.

3. Open bar is no joke
Let's face it: We've all been to all-inclusive resorts or attended events with open bars where the many restrictions on the "inclusive" or "open" part of the equation put a damper on things. That's certainly not the case with the High Roller's Happy Half Hour tickets.

For the pods that have bars and friendly bartenders on board, you can purchase a High Roller ticket that includes unlimited adult drinks. The bar is completely stocked with top shelf liquors, beers and spirits, and the drinks flow frequently. Pricing for the "HHH" tickets are $33 during the daytime and $47 at night.

If you prefer not to indulge in the open bar, but still want to have a cocktail in hand during the ride, you are allowed to bring one from the bar inside the High Roller base onto your pod, and the drinks there are reasonably priced by Las Vegas standards ($13 champagne, $9 frozen drinks, wine, beer, cocktails, $7 draft beers).

2. Theme rides and special events
You've got to give the marketing folks at the High Roller a ton of credit. They've come up with some creative and innovative themed rides to take advantage of the High Roller's amazing views where guests do more than just gaze at the sights during their 30 minutes on the pod.

Everything from private pod parties to weddings, from bachelor/bachelorette bashes to yoga classes to unique chocolate experiences are offered with special pricing.

But the most lavish of them all comes on New Year's Eve.

When the clock strikes midnight and the fireworks go off over The Strip, the High Roller will pause, but if you want to be on board, it's going to cost you. Three different tiers are available, with the people in the pods at the highest level during the fireworks display paying $550 each, which includes open bar and a champagne toast, as well as entrance into a pre-party at the High Roller base with food, drinks and entertainment.

1. Tallest in the world
At 550 feet high and 520 feet in diameter, the High Roller is the tallest observation wheel in the world, besting the Singapore Flyer by nine feet.

The video boards on the pods let you know how high you are climbing as the ride goes along, and there is a countdown to tell you when you are about to reach the highest point.

The 360-degree views are extraordinary. To the north, you feel like you can reach out and touch the top of the needle at the Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower (which, by the way, is the tallest freestanding observation tower in the U.S. at 1,149 feet). To the west you see the Black Mountain range just behind the fluorescent Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. The airport and UNLV campus sits to the south east, and directly below you have a birds-eye view of the revelers on The Strip and along The LINQ Promenade.

"People come on here and they're amazed every time," a High Roller bartender told me. "And they're not the only ones. You'd think I would get sick of the views, but I rarely ever do. It's spectacular."

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