At long last, the big Ferris wheel in Golden Gate Park is set to open.
The anticipated 150-foot SkyStar Observation Wheel will take its first spin in the Music Concourse on Oct. 21 in honor of the park’s 150th anniversary, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department and SkyView Partners, the St. Louis-based company that owns the SkyStar attraction, announced this week.
The 150-foot tall wheel, which holds 36 enclosed temperature-controlled gondolas that give riders great views of The City and the Pacific Ocean, has been sitting dormant since March due to The City’s shelter-in-place ordinance prompted by the pandemic.
“We’ve had to adapt many of our community events and celebrations this year, but the fact that we can now safely open the observation wheel is a tribute to the resilience of our city and provides some much-needed hope for our residents,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed.
SkyStar will maintain health and safety modifications to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“We have a strict protocol in place,” said SkyView Partners Managing Partner Todd Schneider, adding that cleaning between rides, social distancing in the queue, cashless reservations in advance and a sophisticated ticketing system are among the measures being taken during “the unprecedented times that we’re in.”
SkyStar is providing onsite handwashing, temperature checks with non-contact thermometers for customers, staff and vendors, and requiring both staff and riders to wear masks.
In celebration of the grand opening, tickets are priced at $10 per person from Oct. 21 through Oct. 25. Starting Oct. 26, reserved tickets for the 12-minute ride of four rotations cost $18 for adults and $12 for seniors 65 and older and children 12 and under.
A longer VIP ride of 20 minutes in a special gondola with leather seats and hardwood floors is available for $50 per person.
The wheel evokes Golden Gate Park’s past, when the 120-foot tall Firth Wheel dazzled visitors to the California Midwinter Fair of 1894, said SkyStar publicist Jon Finck, who described a “great collaboration” between The City, the mayor and SkyStar, and added, “We’re just so lucky that it’s all finally coming together and we can open.”
Reservations, available at designated times from noon to 10 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays, must be made in advance. Visit www.skystarwheel.com.