The Balboa Park Dine-In Ferris Wheel Project Has Been Suspended

January 22, 2021

The Cohn Restaurant Group's plan to install a dine-in Ferris wheel in San Diego's historic Balboa Park has been suspended. 

Last October, we broke the news that San Diego's Cohn Restaurant Group, which operates more than 20 eateries around San Diego County, had submitted a proposal to the Balboa Park Committee to install a temporary Ferris wheel within Balboa Park. Set to be sited within the Plaza de Panama between the San Diego Museum of Art and the Timken Museum, the Balboa Park Star was to feature 36 enclosed gondolas that each can fit up to 8 passengers. Riders would have the option to order food from the Cohn Restaurant Group's nearby The Prado restaurant. Once completed, up to 288 passengers would be elevated nearly 150 feet in the air at the cost of $12-15 per rider. The Cohn Group hoped the installation would stay for 3-6 months and billed the idea as a safe dining option during the continued pandemic. In December, Cohn Restaurant Group's plan received preliminary approval by the Balboa Park Committee. 

It was announced today that the Balboa Park Star proposal was suspended due to vocal area opposition combined with insurmountable city bureaucracy that made approval of the project seem impossible. Area opposition of the project was spearheaded by Balboa Park Heritage Association president David Lundin, who promoted an online petition against the Ferris wheel that was signed by nearly 4,000 people. 

"The public would be excluded from the use and enjoyment of thousands of square feet of the Plaza de Panama, a key portion of a designated National Historic Landmark District,  solely for the benefit of a profit-making business," reads the online petition against the Balboa Park Ferris wheel. "The proposed placement of this for-profit business would interfere with the public's ability to enjoy that space for walking, bike riding and quiet enjoyment and recreation. It would prevent use by very popular Busker performances who have used that precice space for years. Placement of this massive wheel would interfere with the treasured views along  the historic Prado area, including up to the picturesque California Tower."