The Ferris wheel that adorned Chicago’s Navy Pier for the last two decades has been removed from its post and placed in a new home at one of Branson, MO’s Track Family Fun Parks locations this summer. Once one of the most recognizable attractions in The Windy City, the wheel will now become a mainstay in the Ozark Mountains town, providing enjoyment for both tourists and locals.
The 150-foot Ferris wheel was rebuilt and renovated before being placed in its current location, getting a new main axle and bearings, fresh paint job, and enough LED lights to illuminate the sky for miles. The structure holds 40 gondolas that can accommodate six passengers each, and rides cost $12 for adults and $8 for children aged 4-11.
Bringing the Ferris Wheel to Branson
Craig Wescott, President and CEO of the four Track Parks in Branson, noted his excitement at bringing the wheel to another Midwestern town where its history and charm would still be appreciated the way it was in Chicago. “We love the thought of a Ferris wheel in Branson,” he said. “When we got word of this one, we really loved what it was. It was an icon in Chicago. We just loved that it came with a story.”
The opportunity to upgrade Branson’s famous strip and offer something new of this caliber just couldn’t be passed up. The city was able to get the wheel installed just in time for peak tourist season and to help celebrate the Track Family Fun Parks’ 35th anniversary. Towering high above the main strip on Highway 76, the rotating structure now know as the Branson Ferris Wheel is surrounded by a number of other activities, including laser tag, go karts, miniature golf, batting cages, and arcade games. At 15 stories high, it also provides one of the best views of the alpine landscape.
Fortunately, Chicago visitors and locals won’t lose out by passing on its iconic wheel to Branson. The bigger Centennial Wheel has already been erected in the same site with the ability to hold more people per ride.
For Branson, this acquisition may be a sign of greater things to come for the little mountain community in southwest Missouri. Increasing growth and tourism has ignited a desire to revitalize the city’s look and feel over time.