High Roller Ferris Wheel In Las Vegas, Nev.
Caesars' 550-foot High Roller Ferris Wheel will eclipse the Singapore Flyer by about 10 feet to become the world’s tallest Ferris wheel when it opens in the latter part of 2013. The observation wheel will face north to south (parallel to Las Vegas Boulevard) with 28 glass-enclosed cabins offering broad views of the city and surrounding desert during the 30 minutes it will take to complete one revolution. It’s to become the anchor of Caesars Entertainment’s new open-air retail, dining and entertainment district, known as the LINQ, which will span more than 200,000 square feet and feature more than 30 unique “experiences.” Yet, tall is it may be, the High Roller may not hold on to its record for long. New York’s forgotten borough of Statin Island hopes to put itself on the map with a 625-foot-tall wheel of its own by 2015.
Antarctica: Empire of the Penguins at SeaWorld in Orlando, Fla.
Coming to SeaWorld Orlando this spring: penguins. Lots of them. The park’s single-largest expansion project since it opened in 1973 will replace the previous Penguin Encounter habitat and become the coldest attraction in Orlando at a frosty 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Visitors will explore the simulated environs of Antarctica aboard a trackless vehicle that will feel as though it’s sliding across an icy terrain (like a penguin). Additionally, the attraction will include what SeaWorld is billing as the world’s largest colony of penguins outside of Antarctica.
BioMuseo in Panama City, Panama
Famed Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry will have his Latin American debut in August with the opening of Panama City’s new BioMuseo. The colorful museum, located in the birth country of Gehry’s wife, Bertha, will “celebrate Panama’s immense biodiversity and its historical condition as a biological bridge between the Americas.” Eight galleries will cover subjects like the formation of the Isthmus of Panama, local biodiversity on land and sea, and 15,000 years of human culture. The adjacent Panama Canal, meanwhile, is in the early stages of a multibillion-dollar expansion project to be completed for its 100th anniversary in 2014.
Sky City in Changsha, China
In the race to build the world’s next tallest building, China has, predictably, upped the stakes. Why just build the tallest building in the world, the designers of Changsha’s Sky City say, when you can dazzle (and scare) the world by building it in 90 days. Thousands of construction workers from the Broad Sustainable Building company are expected to erect the 2,749-foot skyscraper at a rate of five stories a day to meet the deadline by using large elements that were prefabricated off-site (by comparison, the world’s current tallest building, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, took five years to build). The 220-story Sky City will include a hotel, hospital, schools and residential units when/if it is completed by the end of march.
ABBA The Museum In Stockholm
Few living musicians can boast their own brick-and-mortar museum, but that’s just what the peppy pop sensations behind ABBA will get this spring. Sweden’s biggest global cultural export of the 1970s leapt back into the spotlight thanks to the world-touring musical “Mamma Mia!” and its 2008 film adaptation. Capitalizing on a reinvigorated fan base, the museum, which will be integrated into the Swedish Music Hall of Fame on the island of Djurgården, is likely to have many a “Mamma Mia!” fan singing: “My, my, how can I resist you?”
Spaceport America in New Mexico
Construction of the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport is expected to be complete by year’s end when it will welcome some of the world’s first private space tourists. Each will spend a week at the futuristic facility in New Mexico’s desert for training before hopping aboard SpaceShipTwo for short suborbital flights said to offer a “taste of space.” The $209 million beacon of the “second space age” will not only serve as the base for preflight and post-flight activities, but will also become a tourism experience in and of itself for students, spectators and science-enthusiasts alike.
Discovery Park Of America In Tennessee
The $100 million, 50-acre Discovery Park of America will take over the tiny town of Union City, Tenn., this summer with the mission of inspiring both children and adults to “see beyond” their current level of knowledge in areas of science, technology, history, art and nature. Highlights of the “Smithsonian-like” attraction include a 20,000-gallon aquarium, a 60-foot replica of the human body and a theater simulation of the 1811-12 New Madrid earthquakes that shaped the surrounding region.
Federation Island Near Sochi, Russia
Russia has Dubai-like plans for its beloved oil-rich resort of Sochi, including a massive $6.2 billion Russia-shaped artificial archipelago named Federation Island that it hopes will be ready before the 2014 Winter Olympics kicks off next February. The island will include luxury homes, hotels, shops and offices and make it possible to travel between Moscow and the Siberian hinterland in a matter of minutes. If you want to witness this historic city’s transformation from an ornate seaside escape to a faux Middle Eastern theme park, 2013 is the year.
Rijksmuseum In Amsterdam
Not exactly a new attraction, Amsterdam’s famed Rijksmuseum will finally reopen to the public in full on April 14 after a 10-year, $491 million facelift. The “new” Rijksmuseum has a completely redesigned layout, new facilities for the public, a reimagined garden and brand-new Asian Pavilion, in addition to the 8,000 works of art and history in 80 rooms that will tell the tale of 800 years of Dutch culture from the Middle Ages to today. The building, which first opened its doors in 1885, will plant its foot firmly in the 21st century with state-of-the art technology, interactivity, a regular schedule of events and a “reinvented spirit.”
Ryugyong Hotel In Pyongyang, North Korea
Last November, esteemed German hotelier Kempinski announced that the tallest building in the capital of North Korea, commonly referred to as the Hotel of Doom, would open to visitors in 2013 after more than two decades of neglect. The pyramid-shaped beacon was long airbrushed out of official photos of Pyongyang, but its days as an embarrassing symbol of unfulfilled dreams appear to be in the past. With five revolving restaurants, a spa, a business center, a ballroom, shops and even an artistic center at the base with a theater and cinema, the hottest hotel opening of 2013 may just be in North Korea.
Mark Johanson is the travel editor at the International Business Times. He has traveled to and written about more than 30 nations and territories on every continent except...