SINGAPORE - The last time they rode up the Tiger Sky Tower more than 10 years ago, Singaporeans Benedict John and Marianne John were in primary school and were accompanying their parents for a day out in Sentosa.
Now university students, the roles were reversed as the siblings brought their parents and grandparents for a family outing and again went up the rotating observatory tower for one last time on Friday (Dec 28).
The iconic attraction, which reaches a height of 131m above sea level, will cease operations from Saturday.
Marianne, 21, said: "It was a little nostalgic. The last time we were on the sky tower, we were looking out for our home in the HDB blocks."
Her older brother Benedict, 24, bought a photo of their last ride on the Sky Tower as a souvenir. He said: "The views are different from the ones we saw the last time. Now there are more new things around."
They were among 1,200 visitors who went up the tower at Imbiah Lookout on its last day.
Since the announcement in October that the tower would close, there has been a spike in interest. It drew 500 local visitors (Singaporeans and permanent residents) in October and more than 2,000 in November. These numbers do not include foreign tourists.
Alexander Melchers, the Sky Tower's managing director, said: "This confirms to us, that Singaporeans and residents really appreciate the viewing experience; anybody who has been on the Sky Tower will want to come back or bring their guests and visitors along as the views are truly unique."
The Sky Tower opened in 2004 and has had nearly five million visitors. It was also the first attraction on Sentosa to receive foreign direct investment.
It closed for more than three months last year after a stalling incident in August last year. The ascending gondola stopped moving at the 25m mark, trapping 39 passengers - including children and the elderly - for more than four hours.
It reopened only in November last year with permission from the Building and Construction Authority.
The ride, which has a capacity of 55, also faced such stalling issues twice in 2010.
Its lease with Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC) was due to expire in March next year but an SDC spokesman had previously told The Straits Times the Sky Tower decided to cease operations in December after discussions between the two parties.
The general manager of Sky Tower, Ken Lee, said it will take up to six months to dismantle and it will be moved and rebuilt in another country.
No date for the start of the dismantling process was given.
Chinese tourist Yang Shiwei, 45, went up the tower with his wife Huang Jing, 35, and said it was unfortunate the ride was closing. He said: "At first I thought that since we already took the cable car, the view will not differ much. But after going up, I realised the experience was totally different. Taking in the 360-degree views at that height, you have a deeper appreciation of the scenery of Sentosa."