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Members of the media got a spin or two early this morning on the Great Wheel. The waterfront attraction opens to the public late this afternoon. (Photo by Aaron Lavinsky / The Seattle Times)

(Seattle Times staff reporter Jennifer Sullivan was among the reporters who turned up early this morning for media day at the Great Wheel on Seattle’s waterfront.)

Great Wheel details

  • It’s really big: Approximately 175-feet tall, nearly 200 feet at its highest point and extends over Elliott Bay almost 40-feet.
  • It’s really heavy: Weighs a hefty 280,300 pounds Some 550 tons of concrete poured for the foundation.
  • It’s got space: Has 42 climate-controlled gondolas, each sitting six passengers.
  • It’s a quick ride: Each ride includes three rotations; lasting about 12 minutes in total.
  • It’s an easy ticket to get: Tickets are $13 for adults and $8.50 for children 11 and under. Military and senior discounts available. Tickets can be purchased at the pier and online at

High above Seattle this morning, on the third rotation, I stopped typing and took a look around.

Hey, there’s the orange-topped Space Needle, there’s a ferry, there’s the downtown skyline. Whoa, what a trip.

On the ground earlier, for a moment or two, I had wondered if this contraption was really good to go, given all the construction debris scattered about.

Hal Griffith, the owner of The Great Wheel, said he could use another week to get everything perfect, but that the 175-foot high wheel was safe and fully constructed.

He expects the workers to keep busy with cleanup until just before the grand opening ceremony at midday. The owner says the wheel is expected to be opened to the public sometime around 5 p.m. or 5:30 p.m.

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“There’s a lot of unfinished details,” Griffith said, watching the construction crews. “This is typical of any opening. You set a date and you work toward it.”

With that assurance, I climbed onto the wheel platform and then into one of the wheel’s covered cabs.

With their bulky cameras and note pads at the ready, television reporters in the other cabs moved from one side to another looking for the perfect angle.

For me, sitting alone in a blue carpeted cab, every angle was just right.

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