Seattle Center's Ferris wheel plan hits the brakes
Great City Attractions, the British company that planned to move, build and operate a 200-foot observation wheel at the site of the former Fun Forest at Seattle Center, hasn't been able to secure liability insurance, said Deborah Dauost, spokeswoman for Seattle Center.
Seattle Times staff reporter
The giant Ferris wheel that was supposed to help launch the 50th anniversary celebration at the Seattle Center might not run after all.
Great City Attractions, the British company that planned to move, build and operate a 200-foot observation wheel at the site of the former Fun Forest, hasn't been able to secure liability insurance, said Deborah Dauost, spokeswoman for Seattle Center.
"We're still talking with Great City, but we're looking into other options as well," Dauost said. The Center's master plan calls for an iconic ride to replace the carnival rides and arcade games that operated at the site.
Great City announced in December that it was bringing the observation wheel to Seattle this month, as part of the lead-up to the Center's commemoration of the 1962 World's Fair. The company operates observation wheels in Europe and Asia, but hadn't built one in the United States, Dauost said.
She said that over the past two months, it became clear that the company was having difficulty with arrangements. At first the company asked to push back the opening from April to July, but more recently told city officials that its plans had been further delayed by the royal wedding in London, Dauost said.
When the attraction was announced, Center officials said the giant observation wheel both hearkened back to the carnival that was part of the original World's Fair and looked ahead to the next 50 years with its futuristic design and high-tech operating system.
The company projected that the wheel would attract a half-million visitors per year with each adult paying up to $15 per ride. The ride was supposed to run through October 2012.
At least one person wasn't disappointed about the news. Hal Griffith, owner of Pier 57, had announced in October that he planned to operate a giant observation wheel on the Seattle waterfront. Griffith hadn't heard about the setback for the other wheel, but understood the difficulty in obtaining permits and operating safely.
"This equipment is such that you have to do everything right to the nth degree," Griffith said. He said that his own permit application is moving forward with the city of Seattle. "We'd like to have something up by next year."
Lynn Thompson: 206-464-8305 or email@example.com