Pacific Wheel has been in operation for 12 years and has provided more than three million rides. It has 5,392 red, white, and blue traditional lightbulbs located on its spokes and hub. The new wheel will be more environmentally friendly because its lighting package will contain 160,000 energy efficient LED lights. According to Jeff Klocke, the park’s director of sales and marketing, these new lights will use 75 percent less electricity than traditional lights. The new light system will also allow the park “more flexibility to program light patterns,” such as different designs for when the park is open or closed.
Klocke said the park decided to replace the wheel for a more environmentally friendly model as a proactive measure. Most Ferris wheels have a lifespan of about 20 years, but the Park’s wheel is located in a “harsh environment” because of its proximity to the ocean. As a result, it is exposed daily to wind, salt, and the ocean air. The old wheel will be sold for use at another park.
The current wheel began using solar power during the daytime in 1998, and the new wheel will be solar powered as well. The Ferris wheel will have the same rider capacity as the old wheel: 20 gondolas, with a maximum capacity of six riders per car. The new wheel will accommodate 800 riders an hour.
Chance Morgan Rides Manufacturing, Inc. of Wichita, Kansas will be manufacturing the new $1.5 million Ferris wheel, while the lighting package is being built by Eworks Pro Inc.
According to Pacific Park literature, the Pacific Wheel has appeared in more than “105 photo shots, 71 television commercials, 69 television shows, 28 feature films, and 13 music videos.” It also appears in the opening shots for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and American Idol.
Miriam Mack, Santa Monica’s Economic Development Manager, told the Mirror the City is “always happy to see upgrades to the Park with new technology that is environmentally sound.”
Klocke also mentioned there will be special events at the park the day the old wheel gives its last ride, May 4, and when the new wheel is inaugurated on May 22.