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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Seattle Great Wheel

Seattle Great Wheel
Seattle Great Wheel at night from the aquarium.
(image courtesy of Jonathan Icasas)
If you live in the Seattle area, you may have noticed a new feature in the Seattle skyline. The Seattle Great Wheel seemed to sprout overnight. In reality, it has been in construction for about a year and in planning for almost 30 years. As a resident of Seattle, born and raised, and a Civil Engineer, I just had to take a ride at least once.

This will be one of those attractions that I take out of town guests on. It is located at Pier 57, which is shared with Miner's Landing (part of Seattle historic waterfront with lots of shops and restaurants). Next door to the Seattle Aquarium and the Argosy cruises. It is within walking distance of the Pike Place Market.

The wheel is 175-feet in diamter and extends 40-feet over Elliot Bay. At the top of the wheel, it is 200-feet above the water. In 42 gondolas, the wheel can carry 252 passengers at full capacity. With views of the Space Needle, downtown, Mt. Rainier, Elliot Bay and the Olympic Mountains, it is quite a breath taking experience.

We went around 4:00 PM on a July week day, a few weeks after opening. The wait was roughly a 30 minute wait, which wasn't too bad when looking at how long the line is. They unload and load 6 gondolas at a time. Those unloading exit from the south side while those loading enter from the north side of the gondola. This makes load and unload pretty efficient. Once all of the gondolas are loaded up, it makes three revolutions. The total length of time varies from 15-20 minutes.

It was really cute. My step son at first wanted to sit by the window, but once we got elevated he got scared so I switched seats with him so he would be in the center. Once he was in the center, he informed us that it really wasn't that scary. We really weren't that high up. The couple sitting across from us laughed and said something to the effect that he can keep telling himself that.


I didn't take the best pictures, but here are a few that me and my fiance took with our camera phones:

Seattle Great Wheel - click to enlarge!
View from the Seattle Great Wheel - click to enlarge
View from Seattle Great Wheel - click to enlarge!

Group Shot at the Seattle Great Wheel


  • The Seattle Great Wheel Official Website
  • Pier 57 - location of the Great Wheel. It is also home to Miner's Landing, which is part of Seattle's historical waterfront.
  • The Seattle Great Wheel Official Facebook Page - they post some great photos that people are posting online. Way better than my photos!
  • The Seattle Great Wheel opens to a big crowd - Article in the Seattle Times
  • King County Metro - Parking and driving to downtown is tiresome and expensive. I suggest taking the bus! It's more environmentally friendly, helps reduce congestion and is more affordable. If you are coming from out of town, look for a metro park and ride. I'm in the north end, so I use the Northgate Transit Center and take the 41. The 41 is fast and comes frequently.
  • Google Images Search
  • Google+ Search
  • Seattle Aquarium - if you are visiting from out of town, check out the Seattle Aquarium and the Seattle Great Wheel at the same time. The waterfront has many great shops perfect for tourists.
  • Pike Place Market - the Seattle Great Wheel is within walking distance of the Pike Place Market. When we went, I took my step son to the market to hang out and get lunch. We then went to the wheel, then back to the Pike Place Market for dinner.


  1. Looks like the day you went up was perfectly beautiful, too! Just wanted to stop by and say thanks for the pingback. Great blog!

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