Hong Kong Observation Wheel

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Hong Kong Observation Wheel
香港摩天輪
Hong Kong Observation Wheel Logo since 2017.png
Hong Kong Observation Wheel Sept 2018.jpg
Hong Kong Observation Wheel in September 2018
General information
StatusComplete
TypeFerris wheel
Address33 Man Kwong Street, Central, Hong Kong
Construction startedMay 2014
Construction stoppedSeptember 2014
Opened5 December 2014 (grand opening to public)
CostHK$250 million (entire installation and transportation)
Owner2015–2017: Swiss AEX
2017–present: The Entertainment Corporation Limited
Height60 metres (197 ft)
Website
hkow.hk

The Hong Kong Observation Wheel (abbr. HKOW) is a 60-metre (197-foot) tall[1] Ferris wheel located at the Central Harbourfront, Central, Hong Kong.[2] It has 42 gondolas including one VIP Gondola with leather seats and a clear glass bottom floor. All gondolas are equipped with air conditioners and communication systems. Each ride included two to three spins and takes about 15 minutes. Each gondola can seat a maximum of eight people, other than the VIP Gondola which can seat 5 people.[3]

It is currently operated by The Entertainment Corporation Limited (TECL). TECL has officially partnered with AIA Group, to present the AIA Vitality Park as part of the attraction.[4]

Background[edit]

The gondola of the wheel in July 2018

In May 2013 the Lands Department of Hong Kong leased 9,620 square metres of land between Central Pier No. 9 and Pier No. 10. for the attraction.[5] It is situated on the Central and Wan Chai Reclamation overlooking Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong. 90% of the site surrounding the wheel is accessible to the public with food and beverages available for purchase. Also, live entertainments are held at the event plaza throughout the year, which is suitable for all ages.[6]The wheel is designed to suit Hong Kong’s climate and weather. It is built within the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department and TUV standards.[7]

The wheel has had two owners. The previous owner was Swiss AEX and the current owner is The Entertainment Corporation Limited (TECL)[8]. In 2014, Swiss AEX expected 1 million riders per annum which is approximately aimed at an average of 2,740 passengers daily.[9] After the ownership transfer in 2017, TECL announced that they have achieved 1 million riders in less than 7 months since the opening.[4]

Ownership[edit]

Front shot of the wheel, in front of The International Finance Centre

The Ferris wheel was first presented by Swiss AEX, a company who claims their experience in Ferris wheel operations for more than a decade in their proposal contract. Swiss AEX had partnered with Hong Kong Telecom (HKT).

In 2017, the government awarded the second term of operating contract to The Entertainment Corporation Limited (TECL) which was set to commence in September 2017. TECL then issued a statement saying it will “offer a substantially lower ticket price per ride”. The wheel closed to the public in August, when the dispute over transfer of its ownership resulted in a deadlock between the original and new operators.[8] The Secretary for Development stated the wheel could be dismantled and closed for 2 years until a replacement is built by TECL.[10] Swiss AEX, the former owner of the wheel, described the company “with no experience of operating observation wheels whatsoever”.[11] On 6 September 2017, a deal was struck between TECL & Swiss AEX which saved the wheel from demolition.[12]

In November 2017, TECL announced that the wheel will be re-opened to public on 20 December 2017 as part of the new AIA Vitality Park, with a range of health and wellness-related events, attractions and activities organised nearby.[13]

Controversy[edit]

The government's decision to build a Ferris wheel here was controversial.

Hong Kong Observation Wheel at night, August 2018

Some questioned the necessity of building such a tourist attraction, considering it seemed useless since the view is easily affected by varying weather conditions. The chairman of the Harbourfront Commission, Nicholas Brooke, showed support of this development project in the interview. However, the Harbourfront Commission has no executive power so the controversy continues.[14]

Apart from that, although the contract to operate this sightseeing spot was awarded in 2013,[14] the project was delayed several times. There were many complaints from the public about the lack of promotion and information.

Security has also been controversial after the release of a photo taken by one daredevil climber showing himself sitting on the top of the wheel. This picture was taken down before the opening day of the wheel to the public.[15] It has brought the security concerns of wheel into the limelight.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Does HK really need the Observation Wheel?". Time Out Hong Kong. 5 November 2014. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  2. ^ "HONG KONG OBSERVATION WHEEL AT CENTRAL WATERFRONT" (PDF). The Hall Organization Ltd. 6 August 2011. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
  3. ^ "Ticket Info | Hong Kong Observation Wheel & AIA Vitality Park". Hong Kong Observation Wheel & AIA Vitality Park. Retrieved 2018-09-24.
  4. ^ a b "HONG KONG OBSERVATION WHEEL AND AIA VITALITY PARK CELEBRATE THE ONE MILLIONTH VISITOR". www.aia.com.hk. Retrieved 2018-09-24.
  5. ^ "Swiss AEX Hong Kong Observation Wheel" (PDF). 14 May 2014. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  6. ^ "Hong Kong Observation Wheel - A Truly Unique Perspective On Our World-Class Harbour". 5 December 2014. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  7. ^ Task Force on Harbourfront Developments on Hong Kong Island
  8. ^ a b Lee, Danny; Cheung, Elizabeth (5 September 2017). "Fate of Hong Kong Ferris wheel 'to be known in days' says mediator and entrepreneur Allan Zeman". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 5 September 2017.
  9. ^ Cheng, Kevin (9 December 2014). "Big wheel turns out to be a giant hit". The Standard HK. Archived from the original on 10 September 2015. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
  10. ^ Blundy, Rachel (3 September 2017). "Hong Kong Observation Wheel could be closed for two years as new operator takes over". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 5 September 2017.
  11. ^ "Bidder for Observation Wheel pledges to lower ticket prices". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 2017-12-06.
  12. ^ "Hong Kong Observation Wheel saved from demolition". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 2018-09-24.
  13. ^ "Hong Kong's observation wheel to reopen at HK$20 a ride | Hong Kong Free Press HKFP". Hong Kong Free Press HKFP. 2017-11-01. Retrieved 2017-12-06.
  14. ^ a b Kwan, Tammy (9 December 2014). "Hong Kong's new attraction 'amazing,' controversial". CNN. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
  15. ^ Woodhouse, Alice (10 December 2014). "Daredevil climbs Hong Kong's ferris wheel, putting security in spotlight". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 7 November 2015.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 22°17′07″N 114°09′42″E / 22.2853°N 114.1617°E / 22.2853; 114.1617