Great Wheel of Fortune – Seattle


September 25, 2015 by John Crapper


 Seattle’s Great Wheel of Furtune:
Round and round it goes. Where it stops nobody knows.

Adults ride for $13.00. Each ride is 3 turns long or a little over $4.00 a turn. The wheel holds over 300 people. At capacity that translates into about $17,000 per hour of operation. It operates 7 days a week opening at 10AM and closing at 11:00 or 12:00PM. Truly a wheel of fortune. It is truly “green” in those terms.

Let me state it right up front. l I’m not a fan of the Great Wheel. For me it symbolizes so much of what is wrong with our priorities and perspective.

First, let’s review some facts.

The Seattle Great Wheel is the largest observation wheel on the west coast, standing 175 feet tall.

The wheel has 42 fully-enclosed gondolas. 41 white gondolas each seat up to eight adults. Cabin #42, the VIP cabin, has leather bucket seats, a stereo system, glass bottom floor, and can seat up to 4 adults. In total, the wheel can hold over 300 passengers at any given time.

The wheel was manufactured in various parts of Europe and the United States, and assembled right at the end of the pier.

The wheel extends nearly 40 feet beyond the end of the pier, over Elliott Bay.

The Seattle Great Wheel is open year round. With fully-enclosed gondolas and a covered waiting area, the rain can’t stop the wheel from spinning!

The wheel weighs 280,300 pounds.

550 tons of concrete were poured to create the foundation for the wheel.

The Seattle Great Wheel was built in less than a year, but its story goes back much further than that. Seattle businessman Hal Griffith had envisioned a Ferris wheel in the city for nearly 30 years, but it wasn’t until he realized he could build one on his own pier that his dream became a reality. The Seattle Great Wheel opened to the public on June 29, 2012. Since then, it has become an icon of the city and a destination for tourists and locals alike.

Monday thru Thursday my wife and I travel on the Alaskan Way Viaduct coming back from our jobs teaching English as a Second Language.

Alaskan Way Viaduct

And on each of these days we take in this view.

Elliot Bay with the Olympic Mountain range in the distance. Notice any man-made obstruction in the photo?

Before the wheel was there nature came through much more unobstructed and dominated one’s attention. Now it is almost impossible not to have one’s senses dominated by the “wheel” And then there’s the light show using hundred of thousands of lights. In the fall, they take place at dark on the evening of any University of Washington or Seattle Seahawks home football games. They also happen on holidays and “special occasions”. It has been documented that the Great Wheel lightshows irritate some residents living downtown.

I know when they happen while we are driving by, not only does it distract ones’s attention from the natural beauty of the sound and mountains, but the light show demands so much attention that I would argue it creates a driving hazard.

Check out this short 11 second video for validation of this claim. (The actual light shows last much longer.)

But of course this distraction will not last forever. The viaduct we travel on will soon be torn down and be replaced by a 4-lane road through a tunnel being drilled by the delay plagued Boondoggle Birtha.

The Alaskan Way Viaduct slated to be demolished.

Boondoggle Birtha – the machine drilling the tunnel for the road to replace the viaduct. Plagued by delay after delay.

This project represents green city planning (not) at its finest but that was the subject of a different diary.

My wife and I have never ridden on the wheel. We have absolutely no intention of doing so. It goes against our nature. In our opinion it cheapens the waterfront giving it an amusement park look and feel. We used to complain about the florescent big E logo of the Edgewater Hotel.

But Seattle’s new Great Wheel puts that eye-sore to shame! For a city that touts itself as being green it is the new symbol of all the ways Seattle really isn’t. The roller coaster isn’t far off I’m sure!

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Our climate is changing. I'm humorously serious about addressing it. I'm convinced my ego is the main culprit. My religion, Holy Shitters, demands I humble myself and celebrate the fact my shit stinks.
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