The Saint Louis Wheel is the latest noteworthy improvement to an ever evolving skyline in downtown Saint Louis. After years of sitting mostly vacant, or at least lifeless – fresh air is rolling into the city’s historic Union Station – once the world’s busiest serving over 100,000 passengers each day.
The new Ferris wheel is 200 feet tall and soars over the covered train shed (parking lot) at Saint Louis Union Station. About a week before the official public opening, I had the chance to take a ride and break-in one of the wheel’s 42 climate-controlled gondolas. (For future trivia night references – let it be known that we were the first passengers to ride in gondola “#23”.)
Each ride lasts about 15 minutes and the pace is quite smooth and comfortable. The wheel will be open year-round with the temperature set at 73 degrees. There are windows on all four sides, with a special VIP gondola that includes a glass floor. You will be able to ride with your family or friends – as many as 8 at a time – depending on size and/or weight.
Once to the top, you’ll see part of the Gateway Arch and other recognizable buildings as you look east. Looking west, you’ll almost certainly be able to see the future MLS soccer stadium which will be built a block or two away. For now, the only scenery is the Drury hotel and a parking lot. Looking south is highway 40 and north you see Market Street.
At night, the wheel lights up with various patterns and the downtown skyline is visible until 10pm – when the last guests are allowed to board. Admission is $15.00 for adults.
The Saint Louis Aquarium is set to open in December 2019 and will be the anchor to all of the new additions which include an old-fashioned soda fountain, a couple of new dining options, a mini golf course, and carousel. The signage outside the parking areas is being updated with fresh logos and new lighting.
The turnabout is impressive and most welcoming for anyone hopeful for the future of downtown Saint Louis. It’s great to see excitement and new life in such an important building and major chapter in the region’s history.
Check out the video of the inaugural ride in the Saint Louis Wheel. I took my Dad along for the experience.