Walking down the south end of Centennial Park in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, you may come upon a surprising aight. A giant Ferris wheel, SkyView Atlanta, has joined the local skyline. Located on Luckie Street, the wheel is a lucky stop indeed– with 42 gondolas scaling heights of more than 200 feet allowing for a bird’s-eye view of the city and its surroundings.
The wheel was first established as part of a traveling program, according to John, the photographer on-site waiting to take our picture as we purchased our tickets. When asked, he explained that it moved to other locations, among them Paris (located across the street from the Louvre Museum) and Switzerland, and then on to the United States via Pensacola, spending about 16 months in each location. But it is now settling in Atlanta.
When we’d lived in England, we’d taken a number of visiting friends and family to see the London Eye. And although it was enjoyed by all, and provided a lovely and comprehensive view for tourists, the lines along the river where it’s located were long, and the price was not cheap.
We learned riders had camped out waiting to be the first to ride SkyView Atlanta’s wheel when it originally opened in mid-July, but when we showed up less than a month later, there were virtually no lines despite it being prime summer vacation time and there being plenty of tourists in the area. The tickets were also quite a bit cheaper, at $13.50 for adults, $8.50 for children, and discounts available for larger groups, seniors and military.
Each gondola holds up to six people. (A few of our younger riders brought some stowaways with them in the form of stuffed animals, and they too took in the sights.) According to our children, they were impressed with view, but also the climate control cars—which were cool and comfortable on the hot day we visited. But if we’d come in the winter months, we should expect it to be warm and comfortable, we were told.
As the wind picked up a bit, our car swayed, reminding me a little bit of the carnival wheels we’d experienced as kids. The wheel also moved seemingly faster than the London Eye—although it’s hard to tell if that’s simply because the cars are smaller and you’re not as high up.
For those who really want to “do it up,” the wheel has a VIP car that must be reserved in advance at a cost of about 50-dollars. The ride lasts about 30 minutes instead of 15.
We’d been told that the ride went around 4 times, but we counted at least 6 as others got on and off. Our three young ones (between 6 and 8 years-old) gave the ride the thumbs up, although one did admit he was a little scared at one point. A sign described it as the “Wheel of Excellence,” and they all said that was true.
And once you’re done your ride, there are plenty of other local attractions in this area, including Centennial Park-and plenty of former Olympic venues, the CNN Center, The Georgia Aquarium, and at least 50 public arts sites depicting Atlanta’s famous people places and events.