Beth J. Harpaz, The Associated Press, October 17, 2014
NEW YORK (AP) — A thrill ride themed on the New York City subway is planned for the Staten Island waterfront near where a giant Ferris wheel will be built.
New York Wheel CEO Rich Marin revealed the plans for the 4-D ride Wednesday at the site for the 625-foot (190-meter) wheel, which is expected to open in 2017 near the ferry terminal.
Marin described the thrill ride and other attractions planned for the complex in a meeting with tour operators organized by NYC & Company, the city's tourism agency. The city is starting to promote Staten Island as a destination to the travel industry to pave the way for an expansion of tourism there.
Marin said the thrill ride will "simulate a ride in a subway car" on an adventure through a fictional tunnel beneath the harbor. It will be called Time Train.
Marin also said a webcam will be installed on a small lighthouse on Robbins Reef, just offshore Staten Island, to provide a 24-hour look as construction proceeds on the wheel. Groundbreaking for the wheel is planned for early 2015.
Other attractions at the Staten Island complex will include a 190-room hotel and a retail outlet mall anchored by Nordstrom Rack.
More than 20 million people ride the ferry each year from Lower Manhattan across the harbor. The free ride draws many tourists because it goes past the Statue of Liberty and offers a photo-worthy view of Manhattan from the water. But most tourists getting off the ferry on the Staten Island side get right back on for the return ride to Manhattan, without doing anything or spending any money on Staten Island. The wheel complex could change that.
The wheel will have 36 cars, each carrying up to 40 people, and will take 38 minutes to go around, Marin said. It will be lit up facing Manhattan and will offer a light show nightly.
The train ride will be a secondary attraction, but one that gives visitors another reason to spend time at the site, along with dining options and the mall. Right now shoppers often head to outlet malls outside the city, like Woodbury Commons, 50 miles north of Manhattan.
"We think we're one of the most important things in New York City tourism in the next five years," Marin said.
Nearby attractions, such as Snug Harbor, a historic site with gardens, exhibits and a performance hall, and the Alice Austen House, which celebrates a female photographer whose work dates to the 1870s, hope they will also get more visitors once the wheel complex opens.
"Staten Island is authentic and authentic is the new cool," said Lynn Kelly, Snug Harbor CEO.
The lighthouse where the webcam will be located dates to 1883. The captain's widow who lived there into the early 1900s rowed her children to school on Staten Island.
This article was written by Beth J. Harpaz from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.