Towering 200 feet above the sea in the sunny vacationland of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the SkyWheel is a modern take on your typical Ferris wheel. Riders are whisked above the oceanfront promenade on bench seats in enclosed air conditioned gondolas for views of the piers, ocean and downtown. After twilight, the SkyWheel puts on a mesmerizing display with its one million tiny computer-coordinated LED lights that pinwheel a rainbow of colors through the night sky.
One of the tallest Ferris wheels on the eastern seaboard – and certainly the largest amusement structure on this stretch of the Great Strand – views from the top on clear days reportedly sweep 40 miles in either direction. Some guests have seen dolphins and even whales splashing in the offshore waters from the SkyWheel’s heights. While sea breezes can sometimes rock cages, an intercom button in each enclosure allows communication with controllers in case you need to get off the ride early.
Each of the 42 gondolas were constructed with slanted glass so riders can snap reflection-free photos of the surrounding scenery. A general admission ticket affords a ride lasting three slow revolutions – around 10 minutes. And one VIP gondola allows riders to skip the queue and enjoy enhanced features – double the ride time, cushioned leather seats and a glass floor affording 360-degree views.
The SkyWheel is located at 1110 N. Ocean Boulevard next to the popular Landshark Bar and Grill and turns with riders from 11 a.m. daily with closing times between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. Standard tickets are $14 for riders ages 12+, $9 for those ages 3-11. Each regular gondola can fit up to six people – rides are by group or family and strangers don’t share enclosures. The VIP carriage fits four people and costs $50 for adults and $35 for children.