14 Things You Didn’t Know About Navy Pier’s New Ferris Wheel

  1. Navy Pier’s Ferris Wheel, the Centennial Wheel, is an iconic part of the Chicago skyline and a treasured piece of Chicago cultural history.
  2. Soaring to heights of nearly 200 feet, the Wheel offers visitors unparalleled, 360-degree views of Chicago and Lake Michigan.
  3. Dutch Wheels, a global leader in standalone giant wheels based in the Netherlands, is the designer of the Centennial Wheel. Ferris wheels designed by Dutch Wheels can be found in well-known tourist locations throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
  4. Dutch Wheels designs, manufactures, and sells wheels to leisure developments in tourist areas while working with local entrepreneurs, local authorities, real estate developers and architects.
  5. Navy Pier’s new Ferris wheel is 196 feet high and has 42 gondolas. The old Ferris wheel stood at 147 feet high and had 40 gondolas.
  6. The new wheel is the same model as the Hong Kong Observation Wheel. The Hong Kong Observation Wheel opened in December 2014 and was structurally strengthened for the typhoon winds in Hong Kong. The Navy Pier Ferris Wheel benefited from the additional structural strength because of Chicago’s harsh weather conditions.
  7. The gondolas are climate controlled and have a higher passenger capacity. The gondolas are closed, air conditioned and have special Low-e High Tech safety glass to ensure an optimum climate inside. Each gondola seats up to eight adults and two children. The wheel can hold a maximum load of 414 passengers at once.
  8. The gondolas will be colored ‘Navy Pier blue.’ The old Ferris wheel gondolas were red, but the new Ferris wheel matches Navy Pier’s signature blue color.
  9. The gondolas have a multimedia entertainment system. Inside each gondola, there is an entertainment system with interactive video screens that plays interesting facts during the ride.
  10. The new Navy Pier Ferris Wheel is equipped with individual seats. The old Ferris wheel has bench seats which have been used in previous Ferris wheel models and in most giant wheels throughout the world. But the new Navy Pier Ferris Wheel has individual seating.
  11. The new wheel operates using the start/stop system. The old wheel used the continuous rotation system, but the start/stop system is more efficient. The start/stop system stops the wheel seven times to load six gondolas which then lets the wheel operator set a number of rotations for the wheel. Typically, three rotations is the accepted number. This system creates a better experience during the loading sequence because the wheel stops, giving riders time to experience the height and the view.
  12. The approximate weight of the new wheel is 992,080 pounds. The old wheel weighed 485,000 pounds.
  13. The wheel contains more than 10,000 bolts to connect all components.
  14. The Navy Pier Ferris Wheel is in the top six tallest Ferris wheels in the United States.

Updated on October 3, 2023

Written By Amber Holst

Amber Holst is Vice President & Editorial Director at Concierge Preferred. A native Chicagoan, she’ll happily bend your ear about why Top Notch burgers are a must (as is an Original Rainbow Cone) and can often be found procuring milk candy in Chinatown after dim sum with her partner in crime or rooting on her beloved Green Bay Packers (yes, that’s right) at Will’s Northwoods Inn. Lover of cured meats, prosecco, and good old fashioned “slashies” she considers herself fortunate to be able to promote her hometown for a living. Fun fact? She can play the accordion.

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Tim O'Malley
2 years ago

Navy Pier is a great place to visit!

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