You don’t always have to go far for a travel adventure. Sometimes you can find plenty of fun in your own backyard — just like I did last week. I spent four days playing tourist in Seattle — where I now live and work. I grew up in this area, but it’s much different to scout a place as an adult than it is a kid. I hit up Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, and now no ”staycation” (or vacation) in Seattle is complete without a ride on ‘The Great Wheel’.
‘The Great Wheel’ (or technically ‘The Seattle Great Wheel’) is Seattle’s new Ferris wheel (it opened in late June). You can find the attraction on the waterfront on Pier 57 (near the Seattle Aquarium). It’s not like you need directions though — ‘The Great Wheel’ is easy to spot. That’s because it stands 175 feet tall, making it the largest year-round Ferris wheel in the United States.
Modeled after the London Eye in England (but much, much smaller), ‘The Great Wheel’ is an awesome addition to the already spectacular Seattle skyline. The Ferris wheel can fit as many as 252 people in its 42 enclosed gondolas (which have air conditioning and heat if needed). ’The Great Wheel’ provides unique views of Seattle and the Puget Sound (it literally extends 40-feet over Elliot Bay) that you can’t find anywhere else.
This is video I captured on ‘The Great Wheel’ last week. I was on the left side of the gondola with my back toward the water, so that means I was looking at the city. Enjoy the ride!
A full ride on ‘The Great Wheel’ consists of three revolutions. It’s a little slow to get started just because of the time it takes to get everyone on and off the Ferris wheel. That’s not a complaint though — I think it’s a good thing. The slow start allows you to soak up the views. The entire ride (including the time it takes to get people on and off) lasted 25 minutes, and I’m told that’s the average time for a cruise on ‘The Great Wheel’.
The wait time to get on the Ferris wheel is a much different story. There are actually two lines you have to wait in: one to buy tickets ($13 + tax for adults, $11 for seniors, $8.50 for children 4-11, while kids 0-3 are free (although they still need a ticket)), and the other to get on ‘The Great Wheel’. I highly recommend buying your tickets online to save time (that way you can skip the ticket line and just wait for the ride instead). I rode ‘The Great Wheel’ on a Monday (after buying my tickets in advance — allowing me to skip at least 70 people in the ticket line) and only had to wait about 20 minutes to get on the ride.
I want to pass along one small warning, especially to those of you who want to ride in a gondola alone. If ‘The Great Wheel’ is busy (which it has been since it opened) and you don’t have a group large enough to fill a gondola (they seat eight), you likely have to ride in a cabin with other people. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing (I rode with a nice family visiting from Houston); I’m just letting you know that’s how it works.
I’ve heard mixed reviews on ‘The Great Wheel’. Some say it’s overpriced and/or the ride isn’t long enough, while others rave about their experience. I’ll say this — if you’re a local you might not enjoy the Ferris wheel as much as a tourist, but ultimately, I think everyone should take at least one spin on Seattle’s newest attraction.
Have you been on ‘The Great Wheel’? If you have, what did you think? I would love to hear from you! You can leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Don’t forget that if you can’t travel the world; experience the world with me at http://allaroundtim.com!