SOUTHSEA’S newest tourist attraction is officially open – the Solent Wheel welcomed its first customers yesterday.
The attraction, which only received planning permission at the start of the month, is being run by the owners of Clarence Pier.
They achieved their ambition of opening it in time for the Easter weekend and the school holidays.
The family ride, which has been built in Italy by attractions firm Technical Park, has 24 gondolas, each seating six people.
And the first people on the ride were 21-year-old Kit Goodman-Edwards and 20-year-old Olivia Ross, both from Winchester.
Kit said: ‘It was fun and the weather was good for it.
It was pretty awesome to be the first customersKit Goodman-Edwards
‘You get a good view of the surrounding area. It was pretty awesome to be the first customers.
‘Southsea looked good from above. I think this is a great addition to the area.’
Olivia added: ‘You forget what is out there but it looks much better from above.’
The 110ft-high Ferris wheel cost £750,000.
Jimmy and Jill Norman are the directors of Clarence Pier and have spent the last couple of weeks setting up the Solent Wheel and getting it ready for the big opening.
Jimmy said: ‘We are relieved and excited. We’ve been looking forward to it for a long time. Hopefully it will be a success and the people of Portsmouth and the surrounding area will come and give us their support.’
And Jimmy said he hopes it gives a good alternative to other attractions in the city.
‘I think we’ve got a different view here to the Spinnaker Tower,’ he said.
‘In some respects it’s better because you can see more into Southsea from here as well as the Solent and the Isle of Wight.
‘We’ve had a lot of positive response. They have all been supportive and asking when they can have a go on it so hopefully it will be okay.’
Jill added: ‘It’s going to be an iconic landmark for Southsea. It’s an amazing view.’
Adult tickets are £6 each and it is £4 for children aged four to 16. Toddlers aged one to three can go on the ride for £2. Visitors can also pay £40 for the ‘ultimate VIP gondola experience’, which will include a glass of bubbly for those 18 and over. The VIP gondola will take a maximum of four passengers.