Blog July 2, 2012

Seattle’s Great Wheel

Photograph by Ellen M. Banner, The Seattle Times

Seattle’s newest tourist landmark opened on Friday, June 29, at Pier 57. The Great Wheel towers at 175 feet, weighs 280,300 pounds, and holds 42 climate-controlled gondolas. At full capacity, 252 passengers can catch a 12-minute view over Elliot Bay.

The Great Wheel project was designed to draw the approximately 9.9 million annual overnight visitors to the waterfront. Undeniably, the city’s skyline is changed. While most residents feel positively about the Great Wheel, some are less enthusiastic, reports the Seattle Times. Downtown resident Linda Mitchell feels that the landmark is “a little country fairish.”

Seattle is not alone in its quest to attract more visitors with a high-tech wheel ride. Internationally, the wheel is gaining popularity after 30 years of going out of fashion, says analyst Dennis Speigel, president of Ohio-based International Theme Park Services, Inc. According to Reuters, Staten Island will be getting a 600-foot-tall “observation wheel,” and two new wheels are under discussion in Las Vegas.

Great Wheel tickets are $13 for adults and $8.50 for children 11 and under. Purchase your tickets at the pier or online at Military and senior discounts are available.