A traveling Ferris wheel will soon brighten Waterfront Park, offering rides and views during Waterfront Wednesday, Thunder Over Louisville and the Kentucky Derby, officials announced Thursday.

SkyStar, the operator of the observation wheel, touts the 137-foot attraction as one of the tallest traveling Ferris wheels in America. It’s outfitted with more than a million LED lights, and will have 36 six-passenger gondolas for people to ride. Waterfront Park Event Director Ashley Smith said the park is thrilled to welcome the attraction, marking it as a sign of progress.

“A few years ago, now nearly 20 years ago, our waterfront was inaccessible. Now it is internationally known and we are being sought out for an attraction like this,” Smith said. “It’s going to be a great destination for all Louisvillians and also people visiting from other communities.”

Though recent flooding submerged lawns near the Ohio River, Smith said they planned ahead and will assemble the ride on dry ground.

The attraction could become a yearly event if it performs well.

Waterfront Park would benefit financially, too, as Smith said it would receive $25,000 of the base rent or 5 percent of gross profits, depending on which amount is greater.

The Ferris wheel opens March 29 and closes May 6 – a day after the 144th Kentucky Derby. Adult tickets are $14.15 plus tax; children’s tickets are $11.32 plus tax. More information and advance tickets available at

Kyeland Jackson is an Associate Producer for WFPL News.