Downtown Miami observation wheel prepares to roll
While plans were originally to have its grand opening back in March, downtown Miami’s observation wheel will soon be up and running for Bayside Marketplace visitors, operators say.
Towering 176 feet over downtown’s skyline, the new observation wheel might open at the end of this month, said Charlene Leavitt of Skyviews Miami, the tourist attraction company that will be operating and managing the giant observation wheel.
“We are hoping to have everything finalized for a soft opening as soon as next week Saturday,” Ms. Leavitt said Monday.
Over three years in the making, the observation wheel offers 42 completely enclosed and climate-controlled gondolas, including one VIP gondola featuring leather bucket seats, a custom LED light show and a glass-bottom floor.
“We are hoping to drive in locals with monetary discounts and promotions for our veterans, senior citizens and Florida residents,” Ms. Leavitt said. “We are also going to reach out to our neighboring vendors and offer them free rides and experience what is now complimenting their mall.”
Ms. Leavitt said initial plans were to officially open the wheel back in October 2019 and then by the Super Bowl in February 2020, but the process of obtaining permits and other factors kept delaying the opening night. March 2020 was the new set date, but then Covid-19 struck and once again halted all operations, she said.
“The nice thing about this wheel is that anybody can ride it, from babies to a 100-year-old grandmother. It’s a nice and smooth view ride,” Ms. Leavitt added.
Last year, the Miami City Commission voted 3-1 to approve the observation wheel after an improved offer to give the city 10% of the gross ticket sales and 6% of Bayside’s cut of gross revenue, Miami Today previously reported.
With more than 50 years of experience in the reactional attraction industry and over 30 years of experience of bringing giant observation wheels to some of the world’s finest tourism destinations, Skyviews Miami said it has kept its 17 crew members employed by applying to all relief funds available, as they worked to make sure the 20-minute ride experience will be an unforgettable journey, but most importantly safe for all.
“Miami residents are excited and enthusiastic. Our employees say people keep passing by wanting to know when we will finally open,” Ms. Leavitt said. “The community has been very welcoming towards us.”