Melbourne Star sneak peek
3AW reporter Lauren Hilbert took a ride on the big wheel on one its first rotations at a special sneak peek event on Sunday.
Scarlet Lee wanted to wake up with the birds to be on the first "flight" of the Melbourne Star.
"We were told it was going to be packed and we wanted to be the first in line," Scarlet said.
The eight-year-old need not have worried. Forty minutes before the first scheduled flight for paying customers she and her mum, Tanya Lee were first in line.
"Mum was the first one to be all crazy about it and it is so huge," Scarlet said, explaining her own enthusiasm.
Ms Lee, a schoolteacher from Hillside, has pined for a spin on the observation wheel since she missed a flight on the Melbourne wheel when it closed suddenly in 2009 due to faults in the original design. Last year, they went on the London Eye and hope to have a spin on the Singapore Flyer in September next year.
"It's awesome. I want to go on it again and again and again," Scarlet said.
Overall Ms Lee loved the flight, but said there were a few teething problems, including that they did not receive a map that went with the audio in the pod and there is no online bookings service.
The Melbourne Star is 120 metres tall with 3.5 kilometres of LED lighting, which its operator, the Melbourne Star Management Group, claims has 15 million light combinations.
The group's chief executive, Chris Kelly said the star's lighting made the project more complex than the Singapore or London wheels. He thanked Melburnians for their patience while the new wheel was built.
Some passengers were along for their second "opening" of the wheel. John Bishop, of Mooroolbark, Kath Kennedy and Brianna Templar, 13, of Greenvale were at the original opening of the Melbourne Wheel in December 2008.
Mr Bishop said the days were different – 2008 a glorious sunny day and 2013 a gloomy summer's day. Mr Bishop captured the sunset on that first opening but this time was happy to be able to get a clear video shot through the base of the glass cabins where no rain drops were falling.
Mandy Horsburgh, of Greensborough, took her extended family on the star, including her brother's family and her parents. It cost $166 for the "surprise" flight. Family tickets are $56-$82 for the half-hour ride.
"Of course, it would have been better if it wasn't raining, but it was still fantastic," Ms Horsburgh said.
Peter Hiscock, of Harbour Town, believes he may be the first local to ride the star. He could see his courtyard from the pod. He said some neighbours had complained about the light show at night but he was enjoying it.
"I've watched it being built," Mr Hiscock said.
"I've been living here for four years watching it go up. It will be better now in Harbour Town. It ought to add some life to Harbour Town which is dying a bit at the moment."
Bill McDermott, owner and manager of the Healthy Habits Harbour Town franchise, was relieved to see the star finally open for business.
"I came to work this morning and I didn't know what to think – whether to sigh with relief or apprehension," Mr McDermott said.
"All the stores have heard about is 'next year, next year, next year' and now we are here," he said.
Mr McDermott said he had become more confident of the star's operation since the Japanese owner, Sanoyas Rides Australia, took over.
The star's cabins take up to 20 passengers and will have the option of on-board catering for small parties.
The Melbourne Star Observation Wheel is open from 10am to 10pm.