Business is booming in Seattle Great Wheel's first week

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Visitors line up at the Seattle Great Wheel on Friday.

SEATTLE - Crowds clogged the Seattle Great Wheel on Friday, just one week after its grand opening and despite work left to do on the city’s newest landmark.

“We’re serving thousands of people every day on the wheel,” owner Hal Griffith said.

He said Wheel management has had some kinks to work out this week, like long load and unload times, which have now been cut down by half, but other than that, they’re pleased.

“We’re just playing it by ear, moving with whatever happens and making the corrections,” he said.

He added that in the past week, the number of people riding the wheel has tripled.

Knowing that, KIRO 7’s Michelle Millman talked with Ivar’s President and CEO Bob Donegan.

“Business has been very good,” he said.

Donegan is also with the Seattle Historic Waterfront Association. He said the Wheel is making a difference in his bottom line. Compared to the same week last year, business is up about 10 percent.

The timing of the Wheel’s opening could be crucial, with the Alaskan Way Viaduct slated to come down in the next few years.

“As it gets harder with congestion and reduced parking, we need to have reasons for people to come down here,” Donegan said.

He said four businesses in the area have closed in the last two years, and with the addition of the Wheel, he hopes those stories are over.

Lastly, he said his employees are feeling the difference from the Wheel’s presence. Sometimes, they’re finding it difficult to get into work.

“They’re complaining how hard it is to get by (Pier) 57 and Waterfront Park,” he said. “So many people are waiting in line to get on the Ferris wheel.”