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Golden Gate Park’s Ferris wheel heads to this San Francisco neighborhood for APEC

The SkyStar Observation Wheel was installed as part of Golden Gate Park’s 150th anniversary celebration. | Source: Isaac Ceja/The Standard

Golden Gate Park’s Ferris wheel is set to move to Fisherman’s Wharf after almost three years of delivering riders 150 feet into the air over the Music Concourse between the de Young Museum and the California Academy of Science.

The Ferris wheel—technically, the “SkyStar Observation Wheel”—was installed in 2020 over considerable opposition due to its bright lights, potential impacts on wildlife and $18 ticket price for a 12-minute ride. After almost three years in operation, it will relocate to a triangular-shaped parcel near Pier 39 known as Lot 301 in time for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, or APEC.

What exactly is APEC, and why is San Francisco hosting part of it this year? KQED journalist and APEC Host Committee Press Ambassador Priya David Clemens explains.

The Port of San Francisco did not respond to a request for comment by publication time.

As The Standard previously reported, discussions between the Port and other city and state agencies have been underway ahead of the conference, which is expected to bring thousands of visitors to San Francisco in mid-November.

Indeed, SkyStar’s days in the park are already over, as the website said it closed to riders on Sunday and will reopen near Fisherman’s Wharf on Nov. 10. 

In a statement to The Standard, San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department spokesperson Daniel Montes said more than 650,000 people have ridden SkyStar.

"Since 2021, Rec and Park distributed 13,650 free tickets to kids and families through its partnership with schools, camps, and 100+ community organizations assisting underserved San Franciscans," Montes said.

How the Ferris wheel will be transported and whether it will return to the park after the conference concludes is unclear.

SkyStar was installed as part of Golden Gate Park’s 150th anniversary celebration and claims to be the first such Ferris wheel in the park since the 1890s. It’s set to remain in San Francisco through 2025. The wheel and its 36 gondolas have 1 million lights and weigh nearly half a million pounds.

Fisherman’s Wharf has seen a number of long-term restaurants close in recent months over nonpayment of rent, although a proposal is in the works to turn Pier 45 into a recreation complex with an events center, museum and pedestrian promenade.

Astrid Kane can be reached at astrid@sfstandard.com