If you are a thrill seeker planning a trip to Chicago, then you might be wondering: how tall is the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier? Many people are surprised by the answer, as looks can be deceiving. Still, no matter what your guess, the trip around will be one you will remember for years to come.
About Navy Pier
Navy Pier is nicknamed Chicago's Lakefront Playground for good reason. The 3,000-foot-long recreational pier is home to a number of exciting amusement park rides, including the famous sky-high Ferris wheel. The pier sits on the shores of Lake Michigan and attracts more than eight million visitors each year. However, that wasn't always the case.
Built in 1916, the pier originally served as a dock for passenger excursion steamers on Chicago's north side. Two years later it was turned into a temporary jail, and then housed the city's traffic courts. During World War II, the U.S. Navy used the pier as one of its training facilities before returning it to the city of Chicago. From 1946 to 1965, Navy Pier served as the University of Illinois-Chicago campus, but when the school moved, the pier sat empty for roughly 30 years.
It wasn't until1995 that the pier underwent an extensive four-year, $150 million renovation, which yielded a new children's museum, outdoor theatre, shops, restaurants, exhibition halls and an amusement park.
How Tall is the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier?
The crowning jewel of Chicago's Navy Pier is its massive Ferris wheel. The amusement park ride is located on the upper deck of the pier between the Crystal Gardens and the Pepsi Skyline in an area called Pier Park. The ride towers over the other attractions and often sparks the question: How tall is the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier. The answer is: 150 feet.
The stunning Ferris wheel was modeled after the very first Ferris wheel, which was built for the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. Navy Pier's Ferris wheel can accommodate up to 240 passengers in 40 enclosed cars. Interestingly, the size of Navy Pier's Ferris wheel pales in comparison to its predecessor. The Ferris wheel built for the World's Fair measured a whopping 250 feet and carried people in boxes the size of train cars. That Ferris wheel had a 2160 passenger capacity, but couldn't sustain itself at that size.
Navy Pier Ferris Wheel Highlights
It's no wonder that people come from around the world to ride the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier. The Ferris wheel takes passengers to heights the equivalent of a 15-story building and offers stunning views of Chicago's downtown skyline, as well as Lake Michigan. What's more, the popular ride is open year-round, which means that lovers can take a romantic turn on Valentine's Day with as much fanfare as families who board the wheel's gondolas for a one-of-a-kind look at Navy Pier's summer fireworks show.
As of February 2011, tickets for the seven-minute ride cost six dollars. Parties of up to six people can fit in a single cab, though you will not be asked to share a gondola with strangers if you desire privacy. Families with young children make up the bulk of the riders during the daytime, while couples and young adults tend to hit up the wheel in the evening. Hours vary by season; however, the Ferris wheel's 40 spokes are illuminated by thousands of sparkling lights each night regardless of when you visit.
Other Navy Pier Attractions
While the Ferris wheel is Navy Pier's most popular attraction, it is by no means the only one. Pier Park boasts several amusement park attractions including:
- Musical carousel: The historical work-of-art features 36 hand-painted animals, including horses and whimsical frogs, which represent different styles found throughout the history of carousels.
- Wave Swinger: The massive swing ride stands nearly 40 feet over a pond of water. The exhilarating thrill ride not only swings passengers 14 feet in the air, but it also spins them around at lightning fast speeds.
- Miniature golf course: The 18-hole miniature golf course weaves visitors around the base of Navy Pier's Ferris wheel, and features Chicago-themed holes.
- Light Tower: The Light Tower Hopper raises riders 13 feet into the air before bouncing them to the ground and back to the top again.
- Remote control boats: Kids of all ages are given the chance to manure eight small boats via remote control.
For more information on Chicago's soaring Ferris wheel and the Pier Park's other rides, including days and hours of operation visit Navy Pier's website.