In August 2016, Seattle’s Waterfront got a new attraction—Wings over Washington—and this ride is hands down one of the best things to do on the waterfront. It’s located on Pier 57 in Miner’s Landing, just next to the Seattle Great Wheel. It’s also near Argosy Cruises, Ye Olde Curiosity Shop and Pike Place Market, right in the heart of Seattle’s most touristy area, but make no mistake—this is a whole lot of fun for residents and visitors to Seattle alike.
While Wings over Washington is called a “ride,” people who are turned off by the idea of rollercoasters or spinning may just enjoy this experience. For residents, it will make sure you remember that you live in an amazing state. For visitors, it serves as possibly the most inspiring introduction to what Washington is all about in existence.
But what exactly happens in the ride? As you approach, unless you already know, you won't find out. You wait in line in front of a door decked out in Northwestern decor, but there aren't a lot of outward clues as to what's inside. When I rode for the first time, I had no idea what to expect and that actually made the experience even more fun. But if you like to know what's coming, read on for the lowdown on what takes place on Wings over Washington.
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What to Expect
Buy your tickets from the same ticket booth that sells tickets for the Seattle Great Wheel on Pier 57, then get in line at the door to the ride, located between two totem poles and right under the ride’s sign. You’ll likely wait a little bit, but once you’re inside, there’s no wait. You’ll go up a flight of stairs and into a room with benches. There, you’ll get a rundown of the rules and your first immersion into what is to come with some super sharp video effects. This part is especially kid friendly (and a little goofy, but in a fun way), and don’t worry too much about where you sit. In fact, if you’re a person who always wants the front row or the back row, don’t worry about where you’ll sit in general as there are literally no bad seats for this ride.
Once the pre-show is done, you’ll proceed to a second room where the real fun starts. You’ll take a seat and strap in. While the seats start out in rows, all seats will get a front row seat (more on that in a minute). You may not get to sit next to the people you came with, but also don’t worry too much about that as the show is so great, you probably won’t care too much who you’re next to.
The experience is best if you have no idea what to expect once the show starts. If you want to maintain the mystery, stop reading here. If you really want to know, keep going.
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What Will Happen on the Ride?
They call it a flying ride, and it’s hard to really encapsulate what exactly that means without trying it yourself. While there are many similar rides around the country where riders strap into seats that react to a video on a large screen in front of them, Wings over Washington is very possibly the smoothest and most immersive. In fact, the ride claims to have the “most state-of-the-art theater” in the world at the time of launch, using 5K cameras and stunningly beautiful drone footage.
Also, while many similar rides take you on a bumpy ride, Wings over Washington takes you on a soaring journey. It’s so smooth, you can actually pretend you’re really flying—but even better, all seats are front row seats. Once everyone is securely buckled up and any loose belongings are tucked into the pouch under your seat, the floor underneath you falls away. The platform pivots so that everyone is vertical instead of in horizontal rows—front row seats for all. The effect is thrilling—while an eagle takes flight on screen, you feel like you’re taking flight right behind him. While the eagle flies through forests, over mountain tops, along the coast and beyond, you will too. Expect a few surprises along the way. You might just get misted by the spray of a jumping orca or smell the forest around you.
You'll see sights from all around Washington State, from Seattle to the Pacific Coast to the rugged Cascade mountains, but from above.
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A Few Technical Details
While the ride doesn’t physically move in the same way an amusement park ride does and the motion is very smooth, if you have an issue with motion sickness, you might feel a little motion sick from the illusion of motion. However, if your motion sickness issue is mild or tolerable, chances are the ride will be worth it to you. If you have severe motion sickness, this might not be the ride for you.
The ride can accommodate riders in wheelchairs or with walkers, but children cannot ride on their parents laps or in their arms. If you have an accessibility concern, ask the cashier about accommodations before you purchase your tickets.
The ride from the start of the first room to the end of your flight is about 20 minutes.