Capital Wheel at National Harbor enjoys clear day for grand opening Friday

With a massive new Ferris wheel overlooking the nation's capital, a children's museum, a village of restaurants and hotels and a major casino resort on the horizon, National Harbor in Maryland has quickly become a travel alternative to the marble monuments and museums of nearby Washington.

OXON HILL, Md. (WJLA) - Friday, the general public is boarding the Capital Wheel for the very first time, after months of anticipation.

The larger-than-life ferris wheel offers a breathtaking view at 18 stories high.

People were excited to take the very first rides in the roomy gondolas Friday.

"It's awesome, I've been watching it," said local resident Cathy Willis. "I go back and forth between Maryland and Virginia, over the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, and we've just been watching it go up. We're very excited about it."

Willis said she's been waiting months to get her hands on tickets to the much-anticipated Capital Wheel, which is finally opening to the public, just in time for Memorial Day weekend.

The attraction features 42 gondolas, each climate-controlled, and one VIP gondola with a wine chiller, flatscreen TV and a glass floor.

When asked what she was looking forward to the most on her ride Friday, Carrie Dieneld said, "Just the view. It's a beautiful day."

Kent Digby, senior vice president of the National Harbor, said it's been years in the making and a long battle with Mother Nature, but it's all been well worth it.

"It was a hard winter to construct," he said. "But you know, we're here now, and the weather is perfect. We couldn't be happier."