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Taking a Toddler to the Seattle Great Wheel

Taking a Toddler to Seattle’s Great Wheel

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London has it’s Eye, Singapore has its Flyer and Seattle has its Great Wheel.

We’ve lived in the Seattle area for 10 years. The Seattle Great Wheel opened in June of 2012 and the weekend of November 4th was the first time we ever rode the Ferris wheel. I had been wanting to ride the Great Wheel for a long time and given this particular weekend was my 35th birthday, I thought why not now? So, I schlepped my spouse and grumpy two-year old down to the waterfront and we made our way to pier 57.

Looking up at the wheel

The Good the Bad and the Ugly

Earlier in the day I had been pulling my spouse and two-year-old around Pike Place. But it was my birthday, so I thought I’d push my luck and see if we could make our way down to the Seattle Great Wheel. Reluctantly, my family obliged. The weather wasn’t spectacular, but it never is in Seattle on my birthday. But, while somewhat cold, it wasn’t raining. Again, for fall, this is considered a beautiful day.

As we approached the Ferris wheel, I started to comment to my son that we were going to ride the wheel. Trying to convince him that this was great idea, I realized he was only getting more fearful. But we pressed on. I purchased the tickets and we snaked our way through the line. It was a quick wait, but our son started to cry. What had I done? We’d already purchased the tickets and here we were standing in line with a  toddler that had no desire ride the Seattle Great Wheel.

Finally we boarded and Charlie was clinging to his father. I started to feel bad. Instead of it being a fun birthday treat, the Seattle Great Wheel couldn’t get over soon enough. Sitting down, my husband began pointing at things. Boats in the distance, seagulls, cars passing over the Alaskan Way Viaduct, etc. Finally, Charlie started to calm down and by the third rotation he didn’t want to get off. He was so excited to see all of the sights, especially the shipping containers pulling into port.


Overall, I am really glad we did it. I typically don’t like to ignore Charlie’s fears, however, I felt good about pushing him a little to do something that he wasn’t overly thrilled about.

Pointing out all the sights.

What I Liked

  1. The views were spectacular. At 175 feet, the Seattle Great Wheel is the tallest Ferris wheel on the West Coast of the United States. As you go around, you will be able to see Elliot Bay and on a clear day, the Olympic Mountains.
  2. Timing is just about right. Once they load the passengers into the 42 pods, the Seattle Great Wheel will rotate 3 times. With a two-year old, this is great.
  3. Elliot Bay is full of boats, a large international port full of cranes and other large machinery, bird filled buoys and much more. Point everything out, makes for a fun game with the little ones.

What I’d Do Differently

  1. Our son was a little fearful as we approached the Seattle Great Wheel. I might suggest waiting until kiddos are at least 3 before bringing them. However, we were able to distract him after the first rotation by pointing out the boats and other items that tend to excite him.
  2. Bring a sweater as the pods are air conditioned.
  3. Go on a weekday when it’s less crowded. In the fall and winter months it gets dark quite early. The lights of downtown and the great wheel would make for a charming evening, after work.
View of Smith Tower from the Seattle Great Wheel

What to Bring

  1. Definitely have some snacks. While the ride isn’t that long, it was good to have something healthy for Charlie to much on.
  2. Windbreaker or warm jacket. The Seattle Great Wheel is down on the waterfront. It can get pretty chilly, even in the summer.
  3. If you’re doing a lot of walking, a stroller or carrier is nice to have. You may even want to consider a child carrier backpack.
  4. Don’t forget your diaper bag!

Seattle Great Wheel looking out over Elliot Bay.




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