Merlin Eyes Orlando for Ferris Wheel Project
Merlin Entertainments Group of London announced plans to bring the Orlando �Eye,� a 425-ft tall Ferris wheel, along with a Madame Tussauds wax museum, to the proposed $130-million I-Walk Orlando entertainment and restaurant center in the city�s tourist corridor.
Unicorp National Developments of Orlando will develop I-Walk with partner and wheel owner Circle Entertainment of New York, says Chuck Whittall, owner of Unicorp. Merlin will rent the space and operate the attractions. An average of 10,000 people per day visit Merlin’s London Eye observation wheel, according to Merlin. Sally Ann Wilkinson, spokesperson for Merlin, says it is too early to know when construction will start. The project is scheduled to open in 2013.
Circle Entertainment, in filings with the Security and Exchange Commission, indicated closing on the deal will take place by January 1, 2012. Unicorp reports it has the necessary zoning and will begin working with architect Antunovich Associates of Chicago, under a $500,000 agreement, and engineers with McIntosh Engineering of Arizona, under a $300,000 agreement, prior to the final closing on the partnership with Circle.
Finfrock Construction of Apopka will build the complex. It is owed $800,000 for work that already took place on the site in association with a prior planned development, according to the SEC filing.
In 2008, Great Wheel Corp. of Singapore proposed building a 400-ft tall wheel near the Orange County Convention Center, not far from this current proposal, but those plans never got off the ground.
Merlin is currently redeveloping the historic landmark Cypress Gardens into the Legoland Florida theme park, expected to open later this year near Winter Haven, Fla.