SAN FRANCISCO— On Oct. 21 San Francisco residents will finally be able to ride the observation wheel that was set up in Golden Gate since March but that had not been able to operate due to the shelter-in-place order.

The SkyStar Wheel stands 150 feet above the ground and moves around cities in the United States. Before arriving to San Francisco on March 15, the wheel was set up in Cincinnati in front of the Ohio River. Now, it sits in Golden Gate Park. This will be the first time an observation wheel of this magnitude will operate in the City since the Firth Wheel, an attraction in the Midwinter International Exposition in 1894, San Francisco Recreation and Parks officials said. 

The attraction was set up in March as part of Golden Gate Park’s 150 anniversary, and was supposed to be open to the public from April 4, 2020, through March 2021. The idea was to have daily rides from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mayor London Breed announced the wheel would be part of the year-long celebration of the park, which was supposed to include other events and attractions, in December of 2019.  

“Golden Gate Park is a San Francisco treasure and a place where everybody can enjoy the best that the City has to offer,” said Mayor Breed.  “We want to celebrate the Park and give people a new way to appreciate the beauty of our City during this 150th anniversary celebration. This observation wheel is just the first of many exciting announcements we will be sharing in the coming months as we get ready for the coming year-long celebration.”

COVID-19 changed those plans and the operation of the wheel had to be halted until now. San Francisco Park and Recreations announced SkyStar will open to the public on Oct. 21. It will feature 36 fully enclosed, climate-controlled gondolas that can hold up to six passengers. Rides are about 12 minutes long and they take people up almost 15 stories.    

“The wait is over! The 150-foot, illuminated Observation Wheel in Golden Gate Park will be ready to ride starting Wednesday, October 21,” said the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department. “The wheel, which provides riders with sweeping views from the ocean to downtown San Francisco, celebrates Golden Gate Park’s 150th anniversary.”

As part of the health and safety measures that will take place in the attraction, staff will sanitize gondolas— which can only be used by people from the same household— between rides. There will be hand sanitizer stations, temperature checks for workers and guests, hourly cleaning in areas with high traffic and everyone must be wearing a face covering and practice social distancing. 

Tickets must be reserved on their website and are already available to the public. In honor of the opening of the wheel, tickets are reduced to $10 from Oct. 21 through 25. Afterwards, adults will pay $18, children under 12 years will pay $12, and children under two years ride free. There is also a VIP experience offered by SkyStar Wheel that includes a 20 minute ride in VIP gondolas, and up to 5 people can fit in those. Tickets for the VIP experience cost $50 per person. None of the tickets are refundable.