It’s a sad fact of life that we appreciate things only when we stand a chance of losing them—and so it is with 360 Pensacola, a Ferris wheel on Pensacola Beach. After about a year of being here, the wheel is being snatched up by Atlanta. (But what’s more baffling is how Pensacola ever landed something that used to be situated by the Louvre in Paris, but I digress.) So of course, only with its impending departure did I take the time to ride it.
This isn’t your typical Ferris wheel; it’s 20 stories high and decked out with air conditioning, plush seats, fully-enclosed gondolas, and if you’re feeling REALLY fancy, a VIP gondola at 50 bucks a pop, complete with leather seats and a TV.
My friend and I wanted to ride the Ferris wheel as the sun was setting over Pensacola Beach. In our rush to get there before it closed at 8, my friend didn’t get a chance to stop by the bathroom. This made the ride painful for her, and very entertaining for me.
As we boarded, an attendant left us with these words, “If for some reason you need to get off, press the red Emergency button at the top.” I didn’t think it might actually come down to that.
The ride went a little like this…
Me: “Oh look at that beautiful sunset over the beach.”
Friend: “I NEED TO GO TO THE BATHROOM.”
Me: “We’re almost done, just three more revolutions. My goodness, isn’t this great?”
Friend: “I’M SCARED OF HEIGHTS, AND I NEED TO GO TO THE BATHROOM.”
I considered arguing with her, but being encased in a gondola suspended 200 feet in the air seemed like a bad time to pick a fight with someone. So I went with the only coping mechanism I know: distraction. I pointed out the pictures inside the gondola depicting what you’re not supposed to do, and we made fun of them.
The distraction seemed to be working; she looked content.
But then her shrieks continued, and I caught her eyeing the red button.
To my delight, and her horror, they let us go around one extra time. I thought my friend might pass out. I’m happy to report we made it the whole ride without needing to press the Emergency button, and yes, she found a bathroom.
Tips to Know Before You Know Go
**Note: The Ferris wheel will soon be relocated to Atlanta, Georgia.
Recommended for: Couples (since no single riders are allowed). It’s great if you want to get a panoramic view of Pensacola Beach.
Tuesday nights the wheel stays open until 10pm for “Bands on the Beach”
Adult (ages 12+) $13.95 plus tax
Child (ages 3-11) $4.65 plus tax
Military (with valid I.D.) $12.55 plus tax
Senior (ages 65+) $12.55 plus tax
Baby (ages 2 and under) Free
How to get tickets: Buy them when you get to the Ferris wheel
Other tips: Please use the bathroom before you board; there are no toilets in the gondolas. Oh, and if you’re afraid of heights, you might want to reconsider riding a 20-story Ferris wheel.