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Timelapse: Melbourne Star Observation Wheel

The Melbourne Star Observation Wheel starts to turn once again as it goes through testing ahead of Monday's official reopening.

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The troubled Melbourne Star Observation Wheel will open two days before Christmas, almost five years after it was shut down due to structural cracks.

The wheel's managers announced the first customers will board the reborn, $100 million carnival ride at noon on Monday, following years of financial pain for retailers without the area's star attraction.

“On Monday an important new landmark on the city skyline opens for Melbourne,” said Melbourne Star Management Group chief executive Chris Kelly.

The first passenger pod of the Docklands observation wheel being installed on Wednesday.

Passenger pods of the Docklands observation wheel being installed. Photo: Wayne Taylor

The Docklands landmark, flanked by Harbour Town shopping centre, will run seven days a week, from 10am to 10pm, and on Christmas Day from 1pm.

The 21 enclosed, air-conditioned glass cabins will hold up to 20 people each, with each ride lasting 30 minutes.

The pods have views of up 40 kilometres, including the Docklands precinct, Melbourne CBD, Port Phillip Bay and as far as Mount Macedon and the Dandenong Ranges.

Mr Kelly said anyone who held tickets for the original Southern Star Observation Wheel when it operated for 40 days until January 2009, could have them replaced for tickets to "the all-new and significantly enhanced observation wheel".

For new customers, a family ticket for two adults and two children will cost $82, a single adult $32, and a ticket for a single child between five and 15 will cost $19. A ticket for one adult and two children costs $56.

“The Melbourne Star Observation Wheel represents the largest single investment in a tourism attraction in Australia since 1995, and the first significant new attraction to open in Melbourne for five years,” Mr Kelly said.

The 120-metre wheel was rebuilt piece by piece after its closure, paid for by insurance.

In October, it was bought from ING Real Estate Development by Japanese company Sanoyas Holdings Corporation, whose core business is ship building. The company had not previously owned an asset outside Japan.

Mr Kelly said the wheel was a "completely new product in terms of its design, engineering and construction and the range of unique and innovative features that have been incorporated”.

The wheel features three-and-a-half kilometres of new LED lighting, "the most advanced ever installed in Melbourne, allowing for more than 15 million different light combinations".

"It will light up Melbourne's skyline nightly on opening, and ensure the Melbourne Star plays a key role in Melbourne's major events calendar," he said.

Function spaces next to the wheel will be run by Peter Rowland Catering. The Star Piazza cocktail area at the base of the Star can host up to 1500 people.

Mr Kelly said Melbourne's history, culture and and "eccentricities" would be showcased on a pre-boarding display called Tales of Melbourne, and by cabin audio.

It was "a wholly new Melbourne experience and I believe it will become a must-do activity for locals and visitors alike.”

During peak periods, up to 100 people will be employed at the Melbourne Star.

Ticket sales are now open, by credit card over the phone on 8688 9688 or at the box office at Harbour Town. Shopping Centre, Docklands, daily from 10am.