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Pacific Park to Replace Famous Solar-powered Wheel

By Lookout Staff

February 25 -- TV weathercasts and late-night shows will have to look for a different backdrop for a couple of weeks this spring, while a favored icon, the Pacific Park Ferris wheel, is replaced with an all-new $1.5 million wheel.

Starting May 8, the Santa Monica Bay skyline will go dark for 14 days as the two-acre seaside amusement park dismantles the world-famous solar-powered Ferris wheel, which has appeared in some 300 movies, photo shoots, commercials, TV shows and music videos.

The nine-story attraction will be replaced with a contemporary state-of-the-art Ferris wheel scheduled to kick-off during the Memorial Day weekend.

The 5,392 red, white and blue traditional light bulbs that now flicker on the wheel’s spokes and hub will be replaced with 160,000 energy-efficient LED lights that will display dynamic, eye-popping computer-generated lighting entertainment in the evenings, Pacific Park officials said.

The enhanced LED lighting provides higher energy savings while complementing the solar-power application, officials said.

“The all-new Ferris wheel will continue to be seen by millions and generate the type of Hollywood buzz it’s enjoyed over the years,” said Jeff Klocke, director of marketing and sales at Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier.

The Pacific Wheel has appeared in more than 105 photo shoots, 71 television commercials, 69 television shows, 28 feature films and 13 music videos, Klocke said.

The appearances include top billing in the opening shots for NBC’s Tonight Show with Jay Leno and a cameo in television’s number one program, American Idol, on FOX.

In its 12 years, the giant wheel, which stands 130 feet above the Pacific Ocean, has provided more than 3 million rides, Klocke said. The wheel features 20 gondolas with a maximum six riders per car and can accommodate as many as 800 riders per hour.

The new Ferris wheel is being manufactured by Chance Morgan Rides Manufacturing Inc. in Wichita, Kan., and will have comparable rider capacity and mechanical specifications, park officials said.

Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier, LA’s only admission free amusement park, offers 12 amusement rides, 21 midway games and an oceanfront food plaza. For information and hours of operation, call (310) 260-8744 or visit pacpark.com.

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