.Boardwalk Plans New Ferris Wheel

Commission to consider Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk ride on Aug. 17

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk plans on bringing back an iconic attraction, but it first must seek approval from the city’s planning commission.

Five years after the park removed its Ferris wheel due to age, plans are in the works to construct a new, 68-foot version of the ride.

Manufactured by Kansas-based Chance Rides, the new Ferris wheel will feature 15 gondolas, with each able to seat up to four adults or six children at a time, according to a city planning staff report. It will be located across from the Giant Dipper and replace Rock & Roll, a spinning ride consisting of swinging cars that travel forward and backward which has operated in the spot since 2002.

The Boardwalk’s previous Ferris wheel, which opened in 1959, last operated in 2017 near the back of the park. In early 2018, as the ride was undergoing its annual winter maintenance, Boardwalk officials determined that the attraction had reached the end of its useful life, and began dismantling it soon after.

The 67-foot-tall ride, manufactured by Jacksonville, Ill.-based Eli Bridge Company, had spun around four million riders since 1986, the first year the Boardwalk began tracking ridership. It was originally located near the Cocoanut Grove, where the Pirate Ship thrills riders today, before it was moved to its final location at the opposite end of the Boardwalk in the 1980s.

The Boardwalk’s permit for the new ride was scheduled for consideration by the planning commission on Aug. 3. However, only four of the seven commissioners were present, and Commissioner Timerie Gordon excused herself as her design firm works for the park’s owner, Santa Cruz Seaside Company. Four votes are needed to pass items.

The ride is expected to be considered at the commission’s Aug. 17 meeting.


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