• Seattle Center
  • Wheeeeeeeee!
My child spies were right: At a press conference today, Seattle Center officials announced that a nearly 200-foot high "observation" wheel will be installed at the center beginning April 1st of next year. The wheel, constructed by Great City Attractions (GCA) of Birmingham, England, will be in place for 18 months to help Seattle celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the 1962 World's Fair.

What the fuck is an observation wheel, you ask? It's a fancy-shmancy Ferris wheel! Only instead of riding high in a piss-stained plastic bucket, riders will be ensconced in "climate controlled" (air conditioning! heating!) glass balls that are equipped to hold 6-8 people each.

But "it's not just the height" riders should be excited about, says NIgel Ward, a spokesman for GCA, which operates similar wheels around the world (in Manchester, Paris, Singapore, etc). The wheel will be roughly one-third as tall as the nearby Space Needle and each ball will offer 360-degree views of Seattle during a typical 15-minute ride. "These will be moving, viewing platforms that'll allow people to see the layout, the views of Seattle they've never seen before," says Ward. The wheel will hold between 21 to 42 viewing pods.

Deborah Doaust, spokeswoman for the Seattle Center, says that the center expects the wheel to attract 750,000 to one million visitors, annually. And the wheel won't cost Seattle Center much, if anything; GCA will be shouldering the costs of shipping the wheel to Seattle, as well as construction, installation, and operation costs. However, Seattle Center will receive an undisclosed portion of the revenue generated from the wheel. Tickets are expected to be in the $10-$15 price range for adults.

A similar wheel is also said to be in the works at the waterfront. However, Daoust says, "I don't think we'll overlap in the time period we'll have it here."