IT WAS a night to remember for more than 10,000 people at the historic launch of the Eye On Malaysia at the Malacca rivermouth recently despite the threat of a storm.
It was a highly-charged affair with “oohs and aahs” when the 60m ferris wheel made its first spin at about 9.30pm following its launch by Malacca Governor Tun Mohd Khalil Yaakob.
Many stood in line to catch a ride provided free until 3am.
Among the lucky ones were 400 orphans from Lembaga Pengurusan dan Kebajikan Anak Yatim Miskin, Rumah Budak Laki-Laki Tun Abdul Aziz, Rumah Tunas Harapan Semarak Kasih, Pertubuhan Kebajikan Anak-Anak Yatim Daerah Jasin, Kompleks Rumah Anak Yatim Fatimah Az Zahrah and Rumah Anak-Anak Yatim Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Al-Haj.
Many walked away spellbound by viewing the city’s lights from 60m, with some vowing to return for a sunset spin.
Others stayed for a two-hour ceremony to watch a fireworks display and dazzling performances by local stars Ning Baizura and Mawi.
Ferris wheel operator Ad Suria Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Adam Yong Abdullah said the Eye On Malaysia would be the main attraction on the 1.6ha leisure park.
It would have three attractions, the first being the Eye On Malaysia. A 30m by 60m water screen would be ready by December and a 4D space exhibition by February next year, he said.
He said the water screen, currently named the Strange World Screen and tipped to be the largest in the region, would display scenes of Malacca’s landmarks, and the space exhibition would give patrons a feel of outer space.
The park would include two world-class restaurants – the Eye Cafe and Eye Seafood Restaurant, Yong added.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said he hoped the RM50mil project would attract more tourists to Malacca.
“I believe, with the Eye On Malaysia, we will draw enough visitors to reach our target of 6.8 million tourists by year’s end,” he told reporters at a press conference after the launch.
He said the ferris wheel was expected to attract 3,000 visitors each weekend and 700,000 visitors a year, particular tourists from neighbouring countries.
He said the state would construct an access road to the Eye to prevent jams on roads leading to the site.
A coastal road from the Kota Laksamana interchange was expected to be completed in two months, he said, adding that visitors need not use the route that cuts through the Kota Laksamana residential area.
He said the state was considering a canopy walk suspension bridge to enable visitors to walk to the Eye from the other side of the river to ease traffic jams.
The bridge would be an attraction by itself, he added.
Ticket prices for MyKad holders range from RM5 to RM10 and RM10 to RM20 for foreigners. Those who want a longer ride can opt for a private gondola (up to eight people) at RM100 or a VVIP gondola (up to four people) at RM200.
Among those present at the launch were Entrepreneur and Cooperative Development Minister Datuk Noh Omar, his Deputy Datuk Saiffuddin Abdullah, Malacca Historic City Council mayor Yusof Jantan and State Tourism, Arts, Culture and Heritage Committee chairman Datuk Seet Har Cheow.