Chicago Ferris wheel gets second life in Branson
It’s not a hoax—Chicago’s Navy Pier Ferris wheel is moving to Branson. The Track Family Fun Parks is paying $2.5 million to install the wheel in the Ozarks tourist town.
Known for its go-carts and bumper boats, CEO Craig Wescott said The Track had been thinking of adding a Ferris wheel for some time, and jumped on the opportunity to buy the Navy Pier wheel.
“It’s been in Chicago for twenty years on Navy Pier. It’s in every picture and it’s just been a staple there. And we feel like Branson is a place that just appreciates stuff like that—nostalgic stuff, stuff that comes with a story. And we felt like it really would be a good fit here,” said Wescott.
The 150-foot tall Ferris wheel has 40 gondolas and 16,000 lights. It’s slated to open on Highway 76 across from Ripley’s Believe it or Not this summer. Wescott said the goal is to open on Memorial Day, The Track’s 35th anniversary.
The Navy Pier dismantled the 21-year-old Ferris wheel last year in order to make way for a new, 196 foot-tall wheel. The pier plans to unveil the taller wheel at its centennial celebration this summer.
Follow Camille Phillips on Twitter: @cmpcamille.