"A roller coaster whips through the middle of the BIG O wheel in Tokyo, Japan - one of the only Ferris wheels to operate without a CENTER AXLE or SPOKES."
5,000 Awesome Facts, About Everything3, National Geographic, 2015
The Big O
literally. IT’S A BIG O. NOT THE BIG-O-O-O….(HAD TO)
At first, I could not find much information on how a hubless Ferris wheel operates, but I stumbled on a Larson International, Inc that has patented the O-wheel, or, the “Hubless Wheel”. It works by having two concentric rings, one that remains fixed while the other ring rotates giving the illusion of a regular Ferris wheel. The other ring that is rotating carries 1 gondola on each side, which doubles the capacity for more riders. More riders equals more revenue. Pretty smart. They advertise the wheel with “Put your logo in the middle,” or, “take a walk right in the middle with a laser show” or, take a look at The Big O. They went ahead and put an 81 mph roller coaster named THUNDER DOLPHIN that tears right through the middle. Talk about fun. Talk about modernizing the Ferris Wheel. I think it is fascinating.
After reading how it works I felt a small “duh” moment. Now I get it.
Here is the link to Larson International in case somebody has the need for this really cool Ferris wheel. (https://larsonintl.com/the-hubless-wheel/#specifications)
The Big-O is in the Guinness Book of World records in 2006. They went ahead in 2017 and gave it some bling by adding in Karaoke machines that have a wide variety of tunes to choose for anybody who loves to belt out Karaoke. Oh my gosh. Just thinking about that makes me giggle.
Full rotation is about 15-20 minutes, probably depending on the song (ha ha), but I believe during the pandemic it was slowed down for a 50-minute ride in which people would use the gondola as office/personal space during the pandemic. A person could come and check their e-mail while slowly riding the Big O up to 200 feet in the air and TAKING IN the beautiful sites. That sounds absolutely divine. The Amusement Park transformed into an “Amusement Workation” where people could safely be outside and still be able to enjoy the great outdoors.
They are still in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest, spokeless wheel along with the only one that has Karaoke machines installed in the gondolas.
It must have been wild living through the Industrial Age.