The St. Louis Wheel Diminishes Shine of Union Station


Union Station at night. Courtesy of AP Images

Holly Williams, Staff Writer

Mounds of dirt, broken windows and brick buildings paired with a distant skyline are all I see as I press my face against the plastic of my confined egg high in the sky. While I did not expect picturesque greenery, I was surprised at the dullness scene before me as I was lifted 200 feet in the air by The Wheel in Union Station.

As a first time visitor, I was baffled by Union Station with the advanced technology and an array of activities. Between the mirror maze, aquarium, ropes course and plethora of food options, it would be easy to spend a whole day in a city I am usually too scared to visit due to the crime.

If I were a millionaire I probably would have. A visit to Union Station could easily cost upwards of $100 depending on your interests. Some activities like the mirror maze at a mere $8 per person were well worth every overpriced dollar, but the wheel at $15 per person was not.

Trapped in a plastic egg as Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next” blared across the speakers, I spun in the sky overlooking an unimpressive view. Just across the street was an apartment complex and to the right of Union Station was about a football-field’s worth of broken building and dirt. My view was a sea of red and brown.

Although I smashed my head into the top of the egg hoping to gain a better view, I did not find one, and all I was left with was a goose egg sized bump on my head. For my next visit, I plan to admire The Wheel from the ground where the views of it are spectacular.

The mirror maze, however, I plan to visit on every occasion. With many different sections, the maze was easy to play hide and seek in for hours. It takes a new twist on the game as you can see your opponent through the mirrors, but finding them is challenging.

The ropes course, also featured in Union Station, presented its own challenges. You are faced with two levels of obstacles, like tight ropes, balance beams and rotating footholds, as you are in a harness but able to see the ductwork and wires that hold the ceiling of Union Station. They only allow you 45 minutes for the whole experience, but with the zipline broken, it was just enough time to conquer most of the obstacles.

While I did not visit the aquarium due to its outrageous $25 price tag, I was still impressed with the Union Station itself. On a Thursday evening, there were few people milling about and no lines, so you are able to enjoy the massive koi pond and the Christmas decorations in peace.

Union Station is the perfect place to spend an afternoon if you are willing to splurge. In an otherwise unsafe city, I felt safe with the security and protected parking lot. With an activity and restaurant for everyone, it is a fantastic place for group outings.Just maybe save your money and admire The Wheel from afar.