Commentary: Amusement rides good for Downtown Atlanta

Original Story on WABE

Who says the thrill is gone? If the owners of the SkyView Ferris wheel in downtown Atlanta have their way, the thrill is just beginning.

The owners plan to open a few new rides by next June, pending state and local approval.


A rendering of SkyTower at night (Special: SkyView)

The three new rides would offer people a variety of experiences. SkyDrop will strap people in a seated ride, elevate to 225 feet and drop in a free fall to the bottom in 4.6 seconds.

SkyShot will strap two people back to back and vault riders more than 200 feet into the air — ending with either a free-fall descent or one with somersaults.

The third ride — SkyTwist — is for people of all ages who want to enjoy the view without the adrenaline rush. Passengers will ride in a glass-enclosed gondola that will twist its way to the top of SkyTower – and circle around before making a gradual descent.

The SkyView Ferris wheel is so popular the owners have signed a 20-year lease for the land below SkyView and the proposed SkyTower — where two parking lots will become an urban amusement park.

Todd Schneider, a co-owner of SkyView, says of the nearly half a million people who have ridden the Ferris wheel each of the two years it’s been in business — half are from out of town while the other half live in metro Atlanta.

He says the rides are giving people in the suburbs a reason to visit downtown — adding to the area’s vitality.

There are differing opinions about using two prime blocks overlooking Centennial Olympic Park for amusement rides. Does it make our downtown feel like a carnival? Or does it add new life to the city — especially during evenings and weekends.

I believe the latter is true. SkyView and the proposed SkyTower add excitement and fun to our city — two key ingredients essential to a healthy downtown.

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