A giant traveling Ferris wheel will be parked at Louisville’s Waterfront Park this spring, offering aerial views of the river and skyline, as well as a nightly LED light show.
The SkyStar Observation Wheel, one of the world’s tallest traveling observation wheels, is set to be in Louisville for five weeks, according to a news release from Waterfront Park that describes the attraction as “Not Your Grandfather’s Ferris Wheel.”
The wheel will arrive March 29 and stay through May 6, the day after the 144th Kentucky Derby. It will also overlap with April 21’s Thunder Over Louisville and the Waterfront Wednesday season opener on April 25.
SkyStar has 36 gondolas, each of which hold six passengers, according to the release. The Ferris wheel, planned and designed by SkyView Partners and Mondial World of Rides, will also feature an LED light show every evening with more than 1 million colored lights.
“It’s a very special piece of equipment,” said Todd Schneider, a managing partner with SkyView Partners, the developer and owner-operator of SkyStar.
Passengers will be 143 feet off the ground at the tallest point of the wheel, Schneider said. The wheel itself is 137 feet in diameter, but rests 6 feet off the ground.
The company opened the first observation wheel in the United States in 2011, a permanent fixture in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. A second wheel, SkyView Atlanta, which is semi-movable, is close to its fifth anniversary.
Observation wheels are distinguished from Ferris wheels by industry experts based on the design of the cars, Schneider said. The observation wheels have enclosed, climate-controlled gondolas, while Ferris wheels typically have open-air seating.
Waterfront Park’s event director Ashley Smith said she hopes the attraction will return on an annual basis and potentially stay for eight weeks or longer next year.
“The unique and appealing offering of this Ferris wheel is it will always be fresh, always be exciting,” she said. “It will be here at an exciting time: when spring is springing and flowers are blooming and people are anxious to get outside.”
For the duration of its stay, the wheel will be open for rides from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tickets are available at skystarwheel.com. Adult tickets are $14.15, seniors above the age of 65 are $12.74 and children under 11 are $11.32, all of which are not including tax.
Waterfront Park will receive either a base rent of $25,000 or 5 percent of gross profits, whichever is greater, Smith said.
Upon entry, guests will have access to food from Little Cheesers and a full bar, the news release said.