Brookfield Zoo Chicago's Anniversary Ferris Wheel features 24 gondolas that each seat up to six people. The attraction will be at the Zoo through Dec. 31, 2024. (Photo by Jim Schulz/Brookfield Zoo Chicago)

Brookfield Zoo Chicago's Anniversary Ferris Wheel features 24 gondolas that each seat up to six people. The attraction will be at the Zoo through Dec. 31, 2024. (Photo by Jim Schulz/Brookfield Zoo Chicago)

Brookfield Zoo Anniversary Ferris Wheel now open

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By Bob Bong

Brookfield Zoo has been attracting visitors for 90 years. To celebrate the anniversary, the zoo has opened a new attraction that has nothing to do with animals.

Last Friday, the zoo opened its Anniversary Ferris Wheel.

The towering 110-foot Ferris wheel offers guests unique bird’s-eye views of the park’s gardens, animal habitats, and Chicago skyline. The massive 125-ton Ferris wheel, located just east of the zoo’s newly landscaped Roosevelt Fountain, features 24 gondolas that each seat up to six people. During evening hours and events, it will illuminate brightly with 350,000 multicolored LED lights. A ride on the attraction is between 7 and 8 minautes long. Riders need to be at least 3 feet tall with a supervised adult or 3½ feet tall with no supervision. The cost is $8 per person (zoo members pay $6).

The attraction took a year to manufacture in the Netherlands by Lamberink B.V. It was shipped in seven 40-foot containers to the United States, which took about a month. The Kissel Entertainment Company of Okeana, Ohio, installed it at the zoo.

The original Ferris wheel, an engineering marvel for its time, was designed by George Washington Gale Ferris Jr., and was unveiled as the popular centerpiece during the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, also known as the Chicago’s World Fair. It measured 264 feet high, rotated on a 71-ton, 45½-foot axle, and featured 36 gondolas, with a total capacity of 2,160.

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