The Space Needle Revamped: It's Not Just For Tourists (2024)

The new digital experience at the Space Needle has something for everyone

The most recognized symbol of Seattle has gotten an experience overhaul, and locals may want to consider scheduling another visit. Last month, the Space Needle introduced a new interactive element that lets you view Seattle and the iconic building itself in a whole new light. And it’s a welcome change in this digital age, complete with futuristic activities including everything from taking long-range selfies to teleportation.I don’t know about you, but when I visit a landmark in any city, I see it, snap some photos, read some blurbs about the why and how, and then I’m ready to go eat lunch.

As much as I love Seattle and everything about it, that’s what I was expecting to do on my first trip to the Space Needle. Check it off the must-see list. But how wrong I was. Before entering, I was told to download the Space Needle mobile app, which was the first step to enhance my visit.

Karen Olson, who has overseen the entire digitizing of the Space Needle experience, was my personal tour guide. Right from the start of my tour, she showed me just how hands-on everything was as we stood in line to go up to the observation deck. Even while waiting in line, which usually means crying babies, bored kids and sighing parents at most tourist attractions, you’re engaged. For example, on the floor you’ll find circular stickers called Space Spots that you stand on (see photo below). Then when a Space Spot is viewed through the Space Needle mobile app, a virtual tall-as-you Space Needle appears for picture-taking. This provided me with a few too many minutes of pure entertainment.

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Photo courtesy of The Space Needle

Olson also showed me how I could unlock the capability to see through the floors on some of the Space Spots. Kids just loved this! They were engaged, asking questions and actually learning! In fact,I found that even I was retaining information better because all my sensory modalities were engaged. “It’s for the young and young at heart,” Olson says.

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The tech-savvy “app-basadors” that help you navigate your way around the new exhibit
Photos by: Shuchi Mehta

Up next along the viewing edge of the observation deck: teleporting.The 520 Teleporter kiosks involve five large computers with interactive motion displays of some popular locations in Seattle (e.g. The Seattle Aquarium, Pike Place Market and Century Link Field). Using Microsoft’s Photosynth technology, you’re able to immerse yourself into a 3D dynamic screenshot of each of these locations. At one point, I was standing next to The Sounders’ Clint Dempsey as the team huddled and shortly after, I was swimming next to a tentacled octopus at Seattle Aquarium without actually going anywhere.

For avid social media-ites, “Spacebook” is a user-friendly way to capture, store and share your photo memories of your visit to this historic Seattle building. Two more features for photo-savvy people that are brand new are theSkyHigh Selfie and the Zoomie.Use the specialized cameras to take a selfie with the ultimate zoomed-in view of downtown and Mount Rainier in the background.

On the inside wall of the observation deck, you’ll find “Skypad,” a huge digital media wall with scrolling photo strips, interactive maps and a huge memory for…your memories. Here, you can enter in your modern-day version of an “I was here” signature in one of the largest guestbooks in the world. Use the Skypad to see if someone from your neighborhood has made it to the top of the Needle, or famous people: I had no idea Elvis Presley had been to Seattle, much less the Space Needle.

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The biggest “iPad” in the world? Probably.
Photo by: Shuchi Mehta

My favorite feature was the live-zoom camera next to the teleportation kiosks along the observation deck–an upgraded version of the standard telescope. The high-definition screens allow for panoramic, live and zoom-able views into different parts of Seattle. Want to find your house? Or peek into a Seahawk’s game? Zoom away!

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The gigantic and hi-tech cameras used for the Live Zoom kiosk which is inside
Photo by Shuchi Mehta

So locals, if you think you’ve been there and done that, you may be missing out on seeing all of Seattle from a whole new perspective. With the help and hard work of some big-time digital, media, and technology companies (most of them Seattle-based), the Space Needle has truly done an outstanding job of allowing all visitors and locals alike to experience the Space Needle in a captivating way.

The Space Needle Revamped: It's Not Just For Tourists (2024)


What is the deal with the Space Needle? ›

The Space Needle is an observation tower in Seattle, Washington, United States. Considered to be an icon of the city, it has been designated a Seattle landmark. Located in the Lower Queen Anne neighborhood, it was built in the Seattle Center for the 1962 World's Fair, which drew over 2.3 million visitors.

How much did it cost to renovate the Space Needle? ›

Approximately 1.3 million people visit the Space Needle every year. How much did the renovation, Century Project, cost? Funded by the privately owned Space Needle, the renovation cost $100 million.

How much does it cost to eat at the Space Needle restaurant? ›

And if you think you can come up to SkyCity, enjoying the included visit to the observation deck upstairs, and just have a drink and an appetizer, think again: The menu dictates a minimum charge of $50 per guest. A plate of pan-seared scallops cost $57.

What happened to the Space Needle restaurant? ›

SkyCity Restaurant closed in September 2017 as part of the Space Needle's historic renovation project. There is currently no full-service revolving restaurant at the Space Needle.

Is the Space Needle worth visiting? ›

Past visitors agreed that the Space Needle is a must for first-time visitors to Seattle, and recommend either purchasing your ticket online in advance or showing up early to avoid long lines. Several said they bought the combo ticket that also includes access to Chihuly Garden and Glass.

Why do people like the Space Needle? ›

The tower's 520' saucer-shaped “top house” offers visitors Seattle's only 360-degree indoor and outdoor panoramic views of downtown, Mount Rainier, Puget Sound, and the Cascades and Olympic mountain ranges.

Who owns the Space Needle? ›

The Space Needle is privately owned by the Wright family and sits on a 120-foot by 120-foot private parcel of land on the Seattle Center campus. The Space Needle is the only private property on the Seattle Center's 74-acre campus. The Space Needle stands at 605 feet tall.

Was the Space Needle supposed to be permanent? ›

The Century 21 Exposition was architecturally ambitious, seeking to create a permanent landmark that would, like the Eiffel Tower, create an instantly recognisable symbol. The result was the Space Needle, a futuristic 184-metre-tall observation tower.

Who paid for the Space Needle? ›

Five Seattle investors organized the “Pentagram Corporation” to build the Space Needle. They were financier Bagley Wright, contractor Howard S. Wright, architect John Graham, Jr., financier Ned Skinner, and timber magnate Norton Clapp. The Howard Wright Construction Company was the general contractor.

Can you eat at the top of a Space Needle? ›

Indulge in an exclusive co*cktail & culinary experience atop the Space Needle! Limited edition menus feature showstopping mixology paired with locally influenced food Towers to bring your night out to new heights.

Is the space needle all glass floor? ›

The glass floor is the strongest structural glass added to the renovated Space Needle. Between the revolving glass floor and its underlying soffit, there are a total of 10 layers of glass. The glass floor was designed for the highest of code requirements for floors.

What is at the top of the Space Needle? ›

Traditionally referred to as the “top house,” the Space Needle's saucer-like top is now called the Atmos and includes the tower's 520-foot and 500-foot observation levels and the 510-foot Ring Level. A newly- installed grand staircase, the Oculus Stairs, now connects guests to all three levels.

What foods is Seattle famous for? ›

So take a stroll around the city and treat yourself to the 15 best dishes that define Seattle cuisine!
  • Coffee: Hop on Caffeine with a Fresh Brew. ...
  • Succulent Salmon in Seattle. ...
  • Oysters- The King of Seafood. ...
  • Pho - Noodle Soups for Everyone. ...
  • Sushi- A Raw Delight. ...
  • Chicken Teriyaki for the Hungry Soul.

Is there an AAA discount for Space Needle? ›

Seattle Attractions

Get a CityPASS Seattle and 50% off the combined admission price to five great attractions. Plus, AAA Washington members can get an individual discount of $4 off day/night tickets to the Space Needle.

Does the restaurant in the space needle rotate? ›

SkyCity (originally known as the Eye of the Needle) was a revolving restaurant and bar situated atop the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington, United States. Seattle, Washington, U.S.

What is the point if the Space Needle? ›

The result was the Space Needle, a futuristic 184-metre-tall observation tower. The goal was to showcase the scenic beauty of the region, symbolise and dramatise Space Age architecture with its “flying saucer” motif, and prove commercially viable with the first free-standing revolving restaurant in the world.

Why is the Space Needle so famous? ›

The Space Needle is an iconic Seattle landmark that towers over the city. At the time of its construction, it was the tallest structure west of the Mississippi River. The observation tower offers breathtaking views of the city, the Cascade Mountains, Elliott Bay, and other islands.

Is the Space Needle actually moving to Portland? ›

Slated to begin later this year, the relocation will culminate in a grand reopening of the Space Needle in Portland during the summer of 2024. City officials, architects, and engineers are working together to ensure a safe and seamless transfer of the iconic structure.

What do you do in the Space Needle? ›

The Space Needle is a must for first-time visitors to Seattle. A high-speed elevator brings you to the flying saucer–esque top, where you can enjoy stunning views of the city, with Elliott Bay and. On clear days, it's easy to spot the Olympic and Cascade Mountains (including Mount Rainier) in the distance.

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