Updated prices and hours March, 2017
As you know, here at Sounds Fun Mom we’re all about South Sound fun. Today, I have a rare post on a Seattle attraction from CoreyAnn of AdventureBee and her fun loving crew. Why the exception? People…..it’s a Giant Ferris Wheel. If you’re thinking about going, this post is a must read, with all you need to know before you head to ride the big wheel.
Our family loves Seattle. We enjoy being “tourists” in our own town and seeing the sights. It is with much happiness that my dear husband treated us to the inaugural public ride on the new Seattle Great Wheel. The weather was great and we just couldn’t pass up the history being made in our area!
Located at Miller’s Landing on Pier 57, the Great Wheel was not hard to spot. I suspect that when the Alaskan Way Viaduct (Highway 99) is demolished,that the Great Wheel will be just as much of a focal point of the Seattle skyline as the Space Needle, Columbia Tower, and Smith Tower are today.
This location is wonderfully family friendly and makes a great day trip for locals and tourists alike. Inside Miller’s Landing one can find fun attractions, great restaurants, and shopping. Tenants include the SeattleWaterfront Arcade, the Crab Pot, Alaskan Sourdough Bakery, Pirates PlunderGifts, Fisherman’s Restaurant, the Salmon Cooker, and the famous Pier 57 Carousel. Within a short walk there are the Seattle Aquarium, Pike PlaceMarket, Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, Ivars, and the Colman Ferry Terminal.
While many locals are bemoaning the cost to ride, I was more put off by the fact that at no point has the media or the Seattle Great Wheel organization been forthcoming in the ACTUAL ticket cost. Not only is it $13 per adult, but there are also two taxes that add another 14.5% to the total cost. One is a 9.5% Retail Tax, and the other is a 5% Admissions Tax. Our family of 3 paid almost an additional $5 just in taxes.
While ticketing was smooth, there were a couple of other hiccups that people should be prepared for when attempting to ride:
1) Parking can be difficult depending on time of day and size of car. During the summer the amount of street parking will be limited. I was able to do it with a CrewMax Tundra, but I wouldn’t recommend it.The parking spaces are made best for full size sedans or smaller. Also, there is a 4 hour max parking constraint, and it is metered. There are garages available but most are decades old and can only accommodate vehicles under 6 feet.
2) Tickets can be purchased online in advance or at the ticket window. Unlike attractions like the London Eye or even the Pacific Science Center’s King Tut exhibit, the tickets issued by Seattle Great Wheel are not time windows specific. Be prepared that if you do show up there may/may not be a line to get on.
3) There is no overhead covering for guests in the line queue should the sun be beating down or it begin to rain (and this being Seattle, that’s bound to happen).
4) The Great Wheel scanning system for tickets needs to be improved. It took almost a full minute PER GUEST to scan a ticket in. In our case, there was a line and the painstaking time meant that the gondolas had to wait to be loaded.I’m hoping to chalk this up to growing pains and hope that in the future they streamline this.
5) There are 42 gondolas and each can hold 6 people. If one’s group has less than six then one will most likely be taking a ride with strangers in their gondola as well.
6) Take into account any fearful children. Ours had been in line in the sun for nearly 2 hours, and no sooner had the doors to the gondola closed did she begin crying in terror. My child is usually fearless so this was a shock. More than that, it feels horrible to have a crying tot ruin it for the others in the gondola with us that spent $40 on their ride.
7) Drinks and food are not allowed on the ride. Just like most theme parks, one will have to dispose of items in the trash before entering the gondola.We were made to toss a closed Pepsi bottle (no foul as we were able to finish it before getting up there) but oddly the press has been saying that Seattle Great Wheel would sell drinks. Not sure if that means in the future they’ll be selling libations or whatnot.
Once up in the air, the views are gorgeous (we could see all the way to the Olympic Mountains). The ride itself was about 10-15 minutes long and made 3 revolutions around. I half expected the gondolas to sway or swing in the air, but was surprised that they were strong and sturdy instead. There was purported to be a Pat Cashman narrative that was supposed to pipe in during the ride, but we didn’t hear one.
All-in-all we had a great time. Would we do it again – yes, in a heartbeat (we plan on trying it out at night soon)! We hope that the kinks will be worked out soon and that many locals will try out the Seattle Great Wheel.
Location: Seattle Great Wheel
1301 Alaskan Way
Seattle, WA 98101
Hours: Winter hours in effect. Mon-Thurs 11AM-10PM, Friday: 11AM-12AM Sat: 10AM-12AM, Sun:10AM-10PM.
Cost: $14/Adult; $12/ Senior (65 & Older); $9/Children3-11; FREE/Children 3 & Under <—- Plus there will be an added 14.5%tax on all tickets sold
Note: The VIP Gondola is available for rental at a cost of $50 per person(regardless of age). It stands out as the only black gondola out of the 42 on the wheel. It is adorned with leather, cupholders, seats 4, and has a see-through bottom for optimum views over the water. Your VIP ticket includes a champagne toast at Fisherman’s Wharf, a T-shirt, photo booth photos and an escort to the front of the line. You can’t reserve VIP tickets, these are first come, first served. The only issue is that at one car per revolution, if there are several others in front of your group who’ve also purchased VIP tickets, then your group may be waiting for quite a while.
CoreyAnn and her family love to travel both near and far. You can follow some of their adventures on her blog, Adventure Bee.