Just For Fun



Are We At Peak Giant Ferris Wheel?

Ferris Wheel Cable Car

If every city has one of these, what’s the value of one of these?

A few years back it seemed every city and its brother wanted to build a giant ferris wheel.

Inspired by successful projects like the London Eye, cities across the world have been lining up to build these now-ubiquitous amusement rides to such an extent, The Atlantic’s Citylab posited the question: What happens when every city has a giant ferris wheel?

It’s a good question.

As more and more cities build these moving observation platforms, will their attraction value decrease? Will we see more of these systems fall into receivership, such as the  Singapore Flyer or the Wheel of Brisbane? Or will investment continue apace?

My guess is that you’ll see a combination of scenarios.

Giant Ferris Wheels are clearly experiencing a trend—and like all trends, there will be three groups of investors trying to capitalize on it.

Firstly, there will be the first movers who can capitalize upon the prime markets of the world and establish themselves as market leaders. Think the London Eye, the Las Vegas High Roller and Staten Island’s New York Wheel.

There will be second movers who capitalize upon mid-tier markets who realize a nice profit but nothing compared to what the movers in markets like London and Las Vegas experience.

And lastly there will be a fair share of bandwagon jumpers more interested in riding the wave instead of understanding the wave. These people will build in whatever market is available to them and will likely find themselves holding onto a large piece of metal that has almost no chance of return on investment.

Why is that? Simple—tourists get bored easily. The tourist class are always on the hunt for the new, the unique, and the authentic. And if we accept that assumption as true, then for every additional ferris wheel that’s built, the less enticing every other ferris wheel on the planet becomes. That’s how trends work. The more you see of it, the less you want it.

I, like millions of others, would be more than happy to drop a few pounds on the London Eye. The Singapore Flyer? Not so much. Why? Because the London Eye was first. It was the original. It’s iconic. The Singapore Flyer is an also-ran and a copycat. Is that logical? Not even remotely, and that’s the point—logic doesn’t fit into the equation here.

Witness the world-record setting High Roller ferris wheel in Las Vegas. It is an original and is about as sure a bet as one can find in this gambling mecca. But did you know about that other ferris wheel? The Skyvue? The one that’s also located in Las Vegas?

Yeah, that one stopped construction a couple of years back and, if reports are to be believed, is dead on arrival. That didn’t stop a third consortia, however, from proposing a third ferris wheel for Las Vegas despite having virtually no chance of ever getting the necessary permits.


Because no city requires three ferris wheels because no tourist cares about three ferris wheels. No city requires two. In fact, most large geographic regions barely require one.

Once you’ve seen one ferris wheel, you’ve kind of seen them all. Sure the view is a bit different in each one, but only to a limited extent. That thrill wears off rather quick and only the most iconic of systems with the most iconic of views will be profitable in the long term.

So how does that relate to cable cars, you might ask?

We’ll deal with that question next week.



Cable Car Music Video: Valeno – Mi Teleférico

As transportation/urban planners, we often look at an assortment of statistics (i.e. ridership, availability, revenue miles etc) to determine whether a transit system has been a success (or not).

But no matter how hard you analyze these numbers, a music video that was made specifically about your transit system; and one that has been watched over 2,000 times in just a few months, is probably as good a measurement of success as anything else.

If this song were to teach us anything, it’s that the new urban cable cars in La Paz means a lot to locals and the city.

In fact, in other cable car music video-related news — in case you ever wanted to shoot your own cable car video, it’s probably best to ask for permission first or you might find yourself sparking some local headlines as a Peruvian songstress recently did.

Just For Fun
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5 wackiest cable car promotional stunts

Jonathan "Dangerman" Goodwin hanging from a cable car. Image from BBC.

Jonathan “Dangerman” Goodwin hanging from a cable car. Image from BBC.

Between the Valentine’s Day date night on Emirates Air Line in London and the Airbnb suite installed in a Courchevel cable car, it seems that the possibilities for what one can do with a gondola are limitless. Good promotional events just take the right kind of company and the right kind of cable car. But there’s a fairly long history of broadening riders’ experience through interactive fun. We took a look at some of the more memorable examples:

The Telecabine Show
The website/magazine for Three Valleys ski area in France, magdescine.com regularly posts videos of interesting happenings inside the gondolas. Episodes of The Telecabine Show have included live jazz bands performing to bemused cable car riders, and at least one pole dancer.

Dangerman versus Derbyshire
For the third episode of the BBC show Dangerman: The Incredible Mr. Goodwin, the eponymous thrill-seeker grabbed onto the base of the cable car at Matlock in Derbyshire and hung on as it ascended to the top of the Heights of Abraham. Judging by the number of camera angles, there had to be at least some preparation for the stunt.

Airbnb suite at 9,000 Feet
As we mentioned a couple of weeks ago, Airbnb is giving away a night for four in a converted cable-car at Courchevel in the French Alps.

Suspended Slackline
Red Bull is renowned for pairing brand with extreme stunts. So it’s not surprise that they were the source of this particularly fascinating—especially for us—tale of Alex Schulz walking on a slackline between to gondola cabins on the Zugspitze cable car in Germany.

Pumpkins Away
Inexplicably, the Hell’s Gate Airtram in B.C. has an annual event where riders are invited to toss pumpkins and Jack-O-Lanterns out of the cabin to try and hit a target below. In any case, it makes for some good YouTube footage.

Just For Fun
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Love is in the Air…Literally

All aboard lovebirds! Image by Flickr user Keith Belton.

While we’re never zealots for any transit technology, we know that cable cars are basically unmatched when it comes down to “romance and charm.”

Don’t believe me? Check out the Roosevelt Island Tram Proposal, Linea Roja Wedding and the Hochzeitsgondel (Wedding Gondola).

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the Emirates Air Lines in London is looking to capitalize on the potential for mid-ride romance by partnering with MySingleFriends and the Thames Clipper for a free speed-dating event and a romantic joint-ticket package.

Judging by the attention that the idea has garnered (it looks like it may already be sold out), many hearts will be literally soaring come Valentine’s Day.

Emirates Air Line / Just For Fun
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Creative Advertising Concepts on the Singapore Cable Car

Sky Art Gallery, Singapore Cable Car. Image by Twisstii (OIC)

Sky Art Gallery, Singapore Cable Car. Image by Twisstii (OIC)

We’ve mentioned the Maokong Gondola’s famous Hello Kitty–themed cable cars a number of times before when talking about both advertising strategies and the effect of fun on ridership (and because, well… Hello Kitty). But those loveable cabins aren’t the only instances of combining interesting visual concepts with the uniquely visible presence of cable propelled transit.

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of linking French resorts La Plagne and Les Arcs/Peisey Vallandry via double decker cable car, Rossignol skiwear designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac lent his own special flourish to the outside of the cabins

But one of the most consistently impressive systems when it comes to branding concepts has to be the Singapore Cable Car. Here are a few creative designs in recent memory:

1. Sky Art Gallery
In 2011, Singapore’s Organisation of Illustrators Council (OIC) was given free reign to create 10 illustrations (pictured above) that would adorn the cable cars in celebration of the state’s 46th National Day.

2. Angry Birds
In 2012, the insanely popular app-based game was already everywhere, so it made sense that it would also appear on the cable car cabins.

3. DC Super Heroes
In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the city’s cable car, the cabins were wrapped with logos and characters from DC comics. Riders were also offered an augmented reality option that seemed to put Superman, Batman, and their spandex-wearing buddies right there in the cabin.

So as the Singapore Cable Car shows, gondola systems can be constantly rebranded and renewed to generate new interest amongst riders. Can you think of other cable cars that have creative advertising concepts?

Just For Fun
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Riding Línea Amarilla in Full HD

Ever wonder what it was like to hop onboard La Paz’s longest urban cable car Línea Amarilla? Thanks to Youtube user Marco Torrico anyone with an internet connection or a solid mobile data plan is now able to ride vicariously on the gondola in full 1080p HD! So if you have 20 minutes to spare, sit back, relax and enjoy the incredible panoramic views of La Paz’s rugged urban landscape.

PS: For those who may be wondering, the system travels from stations in the following order: Parque Mirador >> Buenos Aires >> Sopocachi >> Libertador. 



5 Amazing LEGO Cable Car Systems

LEGO cable car. Image by Flickr user Pascal.

LEGO cable car. Image by Flickr user Pascal. (Creative commons.)

LEGO lovers have always known that the colourful toy bricks can be a (nubby) pathway to a future in architecture or urban design. Last month, The Guardian wrote an in-depth piece exploring just how useful LEGOs might be to actual life-sized city-building endeavours. We’re partial to seeing how people translate CPT technology into something that could carry those tiny smiling figures around a small-scale city or up to the peak of a plastic mountain. Here are a few of our favourite LEGO cable cars:

Detachable 3S — Kuppelbare Seilbahn
The detailed work here is nothing short of mind blowing—especially everything involved in moving the cabins around once they’re detached.

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