The Capital Wheel Opens May 23rd

Capital Wheel Night Shot
Photo courtesy National Harbor

From a press release:

“The Capital Wheel at National Harbor is poised to become a must-see destination when it opens to the public on Friday, May 23rd in time for Memorial Day Weekend. Soaring 180-feet above the Potomac River, The Capital Wheel will join a roster of large-scale observation wheels around the globe.

The Capital Wheel has 42 climate-controlled gondolas. The VIP gondola, National Harbor One, seats four passengers and features glass floors, wine chillers, a retracting monitor/DVD player and leather bucket seats. The remaining 41 gondolas accommodate up to eight passengers and feature glass exteriors to maximize the panoramic views of the National Mall, White House, U.S. Capitol, Arlington Cemetery and beyond.

To celebrate the iconic addition to the Washington, D.C., skyline, The Capital Wheel will have extended operating hours this summer. From May 2014 to August 2014 The Capital Wheel is open from 10:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. Please visit the newly debuted website to see year-round operating hours and pricing,

[How much do tickets cost?
All tickets, plus tax:

$15 for adults
$11.25 per child ages 3 – 11
Free for children ages 2 and under
Discount pricing is available for seniors and military with valid ID for $13.50
Tickets for National Harbor One (the VIP Gondola) cost $50 each. The VIP Gondola can fit up to four riders.]”

45 Comment

  • and don’t forget the mandatory $17 parking!

  • I can’t wait to ride this thing. The views are gonna be phenomenal. But for now, I’m gonna sit back and wait for someone to question why this thing wasn’t built in Columbia Heights, Petworth or Shaw instead.

    • Answer: NIMBYs. Can you imagine the collective aneurysm? Especially if this things blocked homeowners’ views? OMG.

  • I dispute the assertion that this is an addition to the Washington DC skyline.

  • Sweet, I can’t wait to take the Metro to National Harbor and check this out!

  • I don’t really understand the attraction of National Harbor. Like, why would you drive there? What’s the draw?

    • It’s a convention site. It’s mostly for out-of-towners who are here for a conference or convention and spending money on a corporate expense account. It also draws in suburban MD and VA residents on the weekends to the various food & alcohol events at National Harbor. These people are already driving everywhere for their entertainment & dining needs, so they are fine with driving to/from NH. It’s not built to service the needs of car-free DC residents. And they’re fine with that.
      That said, they are totally trying to swaggerjack DC and ride the city’s coattails. They market NH like it’s actually in DC and easily accessible to the rest of the city. I’ve had many friends come into town for trade shows at National Harbor and are disappointed to find out that they’re actually in the boondocks of MD rather than in the city. They had no idea that they are stranded far from everything.

      • Honestly, I’d rather be stuck in a hotel in NH than Tyson’s or Crystal City. The ones that are actually in the city are way too expensive for most business travelers.

        • Really? Crystal City may be one big, boring office park, but at least it’s an easy Metro shot to so much else, as well as few minutes to DCA. Before I lived here, I’d occasionally come to CC on business, and it’s so much simpler than Tyson’s or NH.

          • Maybe your work travel is different than mine, but I usually don’t have the opportunity to do much sightseeing. So I’d rather be situated at a tacky-but-fun place than a boring office park where I COULD take the metro into the city if only I had a day off.

        • thankfully we all have different preferences.

        • Well I guess I’m just not as sophisticated and cultured as you guys.

      • I’ve attended conference events there, and the facilities are really very nice, much nicer than the Washington Convention Center, which is quite a bit smaller and is already starting to look dated. And yes, it was extremely stupid to build this place without decent public transit options.

    • Plus, because the area is lacking in public transit options, office space in National Harbor is practically a steal compared to DC, Arlington and Alexandria.

    • The Awakening. Suck it, Hains Point! 🙂

    • I like it because it doesn’t feel like you’re anywhere near DC, and it’s on the water, so it’s like being on vacation. I’ll admit I only make it over there about once every three years (and I have a car!) but I’ve been meaning to go back sometime.

    • the draw:
      outdoor concerts.
      fine for kids
      childrens museum
      view of the river
      public art
      and various festivals and events.

      everyone likes to diss it ( including me, i hate it) but it’s usually packed full on the weekeds and people seem to love it. i don’t think most readers of PoP are their target audience anyway.

  • It’s a little silly, but, I think it’s a neat addition to the area. I don’t really think Popville readers are the targeted audience anyway.

    Does National Harbor really get enough tourist traffic to justify something like this though? I haven’t been there in awhile, but, I just can’t figure out why tourists would go there.

  • You can park for free at the Tanger Outlets and take a shuttle over to the harbor or walk down or you can just go for an hour, and pay $3 to park. There is a public bus from Branch Ave. Had a middling experience there last time (2 kids + children’s Museum + parking + lunch = where did all my money go?) but keep wanting to give it another chance. Even though they did chop down a bald eagle’s nest tree to build the complex and it is therefore cursed.

  • How does this compare to the London Eye – Size/Height? not view/location.

    • Tiny. Capital Wheel: 180 feet. London Eye: 443 feet.

      • Which is exactly why it will have basically the same view of anything as going to the top floor of the main hotel there. I guess if you’re trapped there for a few days, this is a nice way for them to steal another $15 off of you.

        If anyone wanted this place to be a destination for locals, it would have river taxis. Maybe when the development at SW Waterfront happens, that will be a more appealing option. They should do water taxis to Old Town too. Then again, if they had those, no one would stay to eat at National Harbor.

        • You mean like the water taxis run by Potomac Riverboat Company? They ‘ve going for several years, and offer 15-20 trips per day between National Harbor and the Old Town Waterfront.

          • Ahhh, didn’t know that. Welcome to “DC” – please go enjoy a meal in Virginia. So, why exactly don’t they run to the Waterfront?

          • Which waterfront? I’m pretty sure they do a loop from SW-Navy Yard-NH-Old Town. At least they used to.

          • I have to say, I’d prefer to hang in NH rather than go Old Town – but that might be the bias based on growing up in PG County.
            As for other ferry service, I think they have some specials to Nationals Park timed to games but I don’t think they run for every game.

          • Yeah, Old Town has better architecture but the residents are terrible (extreme NIMBYs who really don’t want you visiting). NH is just a crazy mix of people, and it actually has things to do at night.

    • 180 ft. vs. 394 ft. So not exactly close.

  • why does one need a dvd player in the VIP room?

  • This post has my head spinning.

  • I’m not quite getting the value of the VIP experience here. It’s a 15 minute ride — so I’m not sure what one would use the wine chiller or the dvd player for, or why it would matter to have 4 seats vs 8. So the only meaningful difference for a higher price would be the glass floor. I’m imagining booking it for a very tacky very rushed marriage proposal maybe? I must be missing something here.

    • Ha. That is baller son! you want to watch a DVD in the 15 minutes we are on this wheel? You can. You want to make a long distance call? You can do that too. These are the party days people!

  • As a local, I’ve used NH venues a couple of times for events. It worked out quite well. Hotels are cheaper than downtown hotels and parking costs are probably comparable. Like Reston Town center et al, you get a a low key festive urban vibe without the annoying urban ills. Plus the weird diverse assortment of tourists, families with kids, PG County locals and older folks makes the scene a nice occasional alternative to DC.

  • Climate-controlled? Boring. I want to feel the wind up there.
    I heard on NPR that there is thought of running a streetcar to NH because of all the employees getting there. Right now, good luck getting to work at 6am at NH from anywhere.

  • Here is a thought to get the same view without paying. Just ride your bike from DC, down the Mt. Vernon Trail to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and then across the bridge. Stop half way over and take in the view. Gets you exercise and it is FREE! OR park your car at Jones Point Park, take in the history there, and then walk across the bridge.

  • the river is pretty nice actually.

  • Like it or not, the convention facilities and related conveniences of National Harbor put the DC convention center to shame. Most of the people who go to conferences in this area fly in from out of town and don’t typically venture far from the conference site. And frankly, they’d rather be in some isolated, safe area, than in a part of DC that really doesn’t offer a whole lot in walking distance anyway.

  • Is anyone else a bit underwhelmed? I thought this was going to be some massive ferris wheel with panoramic views and a huge skyline presence… It looks shorter than the hotel!

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