Vista Cay Area Continues to Grow – New Orlando Eye!
The Great Orlando Wheel Corp. has purchased a 37-acre parcel near the Orange County Convention Center for $38 million.
The purchase was part of a three-way deal in which Westwood Boulevard Ltd. of Winter Park sold the land to Shamanand “Sham” Maharaj’s Buena Vista Corp., which in turn sold the property to Great Orlando Wheel.
As Orlando Business Jounral reported June 29, the Great Orlando Wheel intends to build a 400-foot-tall rotating observation wheel as part of a new International Drive resort complex.
The wheel — which will be able to take up to 960 visitors at a time on a half-hour ride in air-conditioned pods — will be similar to the Singapore-based company’s planned attractions in Beijing, Dubai and Berlin.
The Orlando attraction is scheduled to open in late 2009 on a parcel of land connected with the Orange County Convention Center by a bridge over the Beachline Expressway.
The attraction is expected to cost between $40 million and $60 million. It will be part of two parcels at 6461 Westwood Blvd. totaling 37 acres currently under contract for an undisclosed price from Westwood Boulevard Ltd., a subsidiary of IAI Westwood Inc., both based in Winter Park. Orange County appraised the acreage at $11 million.
Buena Vista Corp. is reported to be building a convention-oriented, Venetian-themed hotel resort there that would provide visitor traffic to the attraction.
Orlando would be the shortest of the proposed projects, at just under 400 feet tall to avoid any clearance issues with the Federal Aviation Administration, say sources.
Great Wheel (www.greatwheel.com) was founded by part of the team behind The London Eye, a similar attraction. The 429-foot circular observation platform, built for $150 million as part of the Millennium celebration in 2000. The Eye currently draws 3.5 million visitors a year who pay about $30 for the trip.
The large wheel, at the London attraction, moves at about six-tenths mph. Passengers board separate cars on two parallel tracks on either side of the rotating wheel. These boarding stations are synchronized with its rotation, avoiding stops and starts and any loss of inertia.