The city of Santa Monica will be taking special care to ensure that ticket-holders for Cirque du Soleil's newest show, "Quidam," which opened Wednesday at the Santa Monica Pier, will not find themselves doing battle with visitors to the pier's other attractions when it comes to parking and traffic flow.
Although Cirque du Soleil has brought its big-top show to the lot adjacent to the pier several times in recent years, this is the first year that Cirque's show will be competing with Pacific Park, whose 11 rides opened in June as part of a $15-million pier renovation project. Built on a formerly empty two-acre site on the pier, Pacific Park offers a nine-story Ferris wheel and a 1,300-foot steel roller coaster among other attractions.
"This is our first experience with the Cirque and our new pier attractions, so we will be paying specific attention to those issues," Assistant City Manager Susan McCarthy said. "There is enough parking in the area; if that weren't the case, we couldn't have the Cirque. The issues that it raises are really traffic direction and control issues."
Along with existing signs directing drivers to the pier and nearby beach parking lots, McCarthy said the city will add signs directing Cirque audiences to parking lots north and south of the pier, and will have extra personnel on hand to direct traffic.
For Cirque-goers who choose to avoid traffic at the lots nearest to the Cirque tent, a shuttle bus will be provided from a lot located off Barnard Way south of Pico Boulevard this Sunday only.
McCarthy said Sunday pier crowds tend to be larger than on Saturdays, and added that the opening weekend of Cirque is likely to be its biggest. Cirque announced Wednesday that "Quidam" has been extended from its original closing date on Nov. 3, for three weeks through Nov. 24.
McCarthy also said that the Rand Corp. lot on Ocean Avenue across the street from the lot off Barnard Way has been opened to weekend pier crowds this summer and will continue to provide 300 spaces for beach, pier and Cirque-goers.
Parking information: (310) 393-9975, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.
Cirque ticket information: (800) 678-5440.