Navy Pier was closed to the public this week for what officials called “a major step in the construction and assembly of its new Ferris wheel.”
The park will be closed Jan. 19 and 20 as key structural elements of the wheel’s frame will be put in place. The parts will be delivered via boat, train and truck from Europe.
The new wheel will stand 50 feet taller and be the first of its kind in the U.S., with similar wheels currently being used in Hong Kong and Baku, Azerbaijan. It will feature two-sided cars, a structure that can withstand winds of 115 miles per hour, and safety glass capable of weathering intense storms, officials said. New gondolas can also hold up to 10 people-- the current wheel holds six—and will include padded seats, TV screens and speakers.
The 196-foot Ferris wheel is expected to be ready for operation for the 2016 Centennial Celebration this summer and will operate year-round.
"One of our goals was to be sure the new wheel would provide our guests with a significantly enhanced year-round experience," Marilynn K. Gardner, President and CEO, Navy Pier, Inc., said in a statement. "The new wheel will deliver a smoother and more luxurious ride – increasing ride time from seven minutes to twelve minutes, and circling three times, not just once as the current wheel does."