Benefits of the Tulsa Skyride

These are some of the many reasons why the Tulsa Skyride should remain in operation: a starter list of the many benefits of the Tulsa Skyride.

The skyride provides an experience not found elsewhere in Oklahoma or in most neighboring states

A ride on a Von Roll gondola skyride is a unique experience. Nowhere else in Oklahoma can anyone experience a ride on a gondola skyride or any permanent ropeway. Most of the neighboring states do not have a gondola skyride and none have a Von Roll gondola skyride.

The nearest gondola skyride is the Texas Skyway in Dallas at Fair Park. The Texas Skyway is a Doppelmayr gondola skyride added to the State Fair of Texas in 2007 at a cost of $5.5 million. While it’s a modern, beautiful ride, it’s a different experience than a ride on a genuine, classic Von Roll skyride such as Tulsa’s. The nearest Von Roll skyride outside of Tulsa is at the Minnesota State Fair in Saint Paul, Minnesota. The Tulsa Skyride is taller than both the Texas Skyway and the Minnesota State Fair Skyride.

The skyride is an annual source of valuable publicity

The skyride fascinates people. The Tulsa Skyride has been a topic of keen interest for print and television reports in the media since 1965. Further, photos and video footage taken from the Tulsa Skyride have been a standard feature of annual press coverage of the Tulsa State Fair. Feature stories specifically about the Tulsa Skyride have appeared year after year. The dollar value of the publicity generated by the skyride is substantial.

The skyride has been a Tulsa State Fair tradition since 1965

It is likely true that most fairgoers have never known the Tulsa State Fair without the skyride. It just wouldn’t be the Tulsa State Fair without the skyride. We’ve grown up always knowing the skyride at the Tulsa State Fair. Parents and grandparents took their little ones on the skyride for an experience that none would forget. For decades now, those little ones have grown up and brought their own children for a ride on the skyride to share the same experience. The skyride is a special part of the Tulsa State Fair. Let’s keep it going.

The skyride adds a unique dimension, offering views and perspectives of the fair and Tulsa not otherwise possible

People love bird’s-eye, panoramic views. They are fascinated by seeing the world from above. Opportunities for panoramic views of Tulsa are scarce. From the Tulsa Skyride passengers can see the entire fairgrounds and all of the activity below. But they can also see beyond the fairgrounds to the downtown Tulsa skyline and the hills beyond. They can see how the city spreads out in all directions and pick out landmarks near and far. They can see all of this and more while the skyride transports them silently across the sky with ever-changing views along the way. The more they ride, the more they discover from the air.

The enduring appeal of the views from a skyride is widely known. In his 2017 announcement of the massive Doppelmayr Disney Skyliner gondola system for Walt Disney World, Bob Chapek, then Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman, likened the introduction of the Skyliner to the return of an old friend. This reference to the Von Roll Disney Skyway was met with thunderous applause. Chapek added, “Riding the Disney Skyliner will give you a whole new way to experience the resort, with unique vistas you can only get from the sky. You’ll definitely want to have your cameras out when you ride this.”

The skyride is a landmark for Tulsa and Oklahoma

The tall towers are an impressive sight. The towers reflect the elegance of their mid-century design. The colorful skyride cabins quietly gliding above all other activity at the fair makes for a memorable sight. The skyride is of historic significance. Its history is remarkable. Further, the skyride is a huge part of the Tulsa State Fair’s history. The skyride has made lasting memories for generations of families from Tulsa and beyond. The skyride is a true Tulsa and Oklahoma landmark.

Tulsa Skyride 1965 towers versus Texas Skyway 2007 towers
They don’t make ’em like they used to. Left: Tulsa Skyride’s mid-century Von Roll towers from 1965. Right: Texas Skyway’s 2007 Doppelmayr towers. Click on image to view larger.

The skyride is a unique asset to the fair, city, and state

Tulsa is among a small number of US cities that have a gondola skyride. The number of US cities with a Von Roll gondola skyride is even smaller. Yet gondola skyrides are gaining in popularity on a massive scale. In the United States, the sprawling Walt Disney World Skyliner by Doppelmayr is a major example. Throughout Latin America, enormous gondola skyride installations have been made to improve urban transportation. Having an urban Von Roll skyride sets Tulsa apart.

Apart from the practical use of gondola skyrides for urban transportation, gondola skyrides have great tourist appeal. Von Roll skyrides, like Tulsa’s, also have a lot of appeal due to nostalgia. The tourism aspect of the Tulsa Skyride could be leveraged to the benefit of the fair, city (and county), and state.

At the Miami area’s Hard Rock Stadium, a new Doppelmayr pulsed gondola skyride was recently installed specifically for sightseeing reasons, not transportation reasons. Less costly than a detachable gondola system like Tulsa’s, a pulsed system runs fixed-grip gondolas that stop in the station, repeatedly bringing the entire system to a halt for loading and unloading. The $3 million new-for-2020 skyride provides a round-trip-only aerial journey across the south side of the stadium’s parking lot. Views include the stadium, tennis center, and the Miami skyline in the distance. The idea for adding the gondola came from Tom Garfinkel, Vice Chairman and CEO, Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium. Garfinkel has stated that he wanted to bring the “above the crowd” viewing experience to the stadium after experiencing the chairlift at Milwaukee’s Summerfest. See the new gondola in operation on YouTube. The video also includes footage showing views from the ride. The cabins feature glass floors.

The skyride stands as a significant example of historic preservation

Walt Disney brought the Von Roll skyride to the United States. Following Disney’s lead, Von Roll skyrides were installed across the country. Today there are only ten Von Roll skyride installations remaining in the United States (counting Six Flags Great Adventure’s double Von Roll as a single installation).

Tulsa’s Skyride is one of the remaining ten Von Roll skyrides in the United States. Benefiting from hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of upgrades and renovations since 2007, the Tulsa Skyride is essentially in better-than-new condition. It’s a rare remaining example of mid-century Swiss design and highly-robust hardware. Each ride on the skyride is a historic experience.

The skyride brings enjoyment, excitement, and entertainment to thousands

How much value can you assign to a smile? How much value do joy and laughter have? Friends and families have enjoyed smiles and laughter together aboard the skyride in Tulsa for decades. It’s an experience like no other. Nothing could replace it. Let’s keep it going.

The skyride appeals to all ages

Most children experience their first ride on the skyride when their parents or grandparents bring them on it. They experience it together. It’s a giant ride that takes them high up in the air and across the midway. It’s something that children remember. And generations of these children grow up and bring their own children for a first ride on the skyride. There are no other rides at the fair that can match this.

And the skyride’s appeal is not limited only to families. Groups of teens are always seen on the skyride. Young couples also enjoy the skyride. Few rides appeal to such a broad audience the way that the skyride does. Let’s keep it going.

Do you know of other benefits of the Tulsa Skyride? Let us know.