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The Centennial Wheel is the most recognizable attraction at Navy Pier in Chicago. It has become an iconic part of the Chicago skyline and a treasured part of the landmarks of the Windy City. The Navy Pier is one of Chicago's most famous attractions and one that families can enjoy all-day fun at.

Like the London Eye, Chicago's Centennial Wheel is a great observation platform from which to view the city. The largest Ferris Wheel in the world today is the Ain Dubai, that only just opened in 2021. The Ain Dubai rises to a dizzying height of 820 feet or 250 meters.

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Centennial Wheel - A Great Way To See Chicago

The Centennial Wheel is one of the best ways to enjoy stunning 360-degree views of the city of Chicago and Lake Michigan stretching out before it. On this massive Ferris wheel, one will soar to heights of almost 200 feet.

  • Height: Almost 200 Feet

While Chicago has a reputation for being very cold in the winter, its enclosed gondolas provide a comfortable ride throughout the year. So it doesn't matter if one comes to Chicago in the depth of winter; it is still a great attraction to enjoy.

The Navy Pier is located on the shores of Lake Michigan and over an area of over 50 acres of parks, gardens, shops, restaurants, family attractions, and exhibition facilities. It is one of the most popular destinations in the entire Midwest, drawing around 9 million visitors every year.

Related: Singapore Flyer vs. London Eye: Which Ferris Wheel Is Better?

Cost And Ticket Options Of The Centennial Wheel

If one is looking to buy individual tickets, then the normal price for an adult is almost $20.00 and $16.50 for a child.

Centennial Wheel Ticket Price:

  • Adult: $19.75 (Aged 12+)
  • Child: $16.50 (Aged 3-11)
  • Baby: Free (Under Three)

There are also some group and special tickets one can buy.

VIP Gondola

There are different ticketing options for those riding the Centennial Wheel. The Centennial Wheel VIP Group Buy-out includes admission for up to four guests in its VIP gondola. The VIP gondola boasts plush seating and a thrilling glass bottom, as well as other premium perks.

The VIP Gondola is perfect for special occasions and can be reserved online in advance.

Group Tickets & Field Trips

If one has a group, then the Centennial Wheel also offers group tickets - these are for groups of 20 or more. The Group tickets include special rates for a wide range of attractions and activities on Navy Pier, including the Pepsi Wave Swinger, Light Tower Ride, Carousel, and Climbing Walls.

  • Group Size: 20 Or More
  • Offers: Discounts On Rides And Food
  • Price: Inquire For A Quote

Group tickets also include discounts on dining with Food Court Certificates that offer a selection of meal options at different eateries within the Navy Pier.

Navy Pier offers special rates on a wide variety of attractions and activities, as well as dining packages, for groups of 20 or more guests. To learn more about all group options, contact Group Sales.

Related: Las Vegas Boasts The Largest Ferris Wheel In The United States

Chicago's First Ferris Wheel & The Centennial Wheel

It was before the turn of the century, back in 1893, that Chicago first got a Ferris wheel. One was built for the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. It was named after the designer George Washington Gale Ferris Jr., an engineer from Pittsburgh who came up with the idea.

This was a time when the Eiffel Tower had just been completed in Paris, and so the 264-foot tall Ferris wheel was meant as a rival. It was also illuminated by 2,500 Edison incandescent lights.

Original Ferris Wheel:

  • Built: In 1893, For The World's Columbian Exposition
  • Designer: George Washington Gale Ferris Jr.
  • Height: 264 Feet

The first Ferris wheel to be built on Navy Pier was built in 1995 and was inspired by Ferris' first Ferris wheel in Chicago. It was much smaller, only having a height of 150 feet. The current Ferris wheel was built in 2016 to commemorate Navy Pier's 100th anniversary. This wheel is almost 200 feet tall (or 50 feet taller than the 1995 one).

Current Ferris Wheel:

  • Built: 2016
  • Height: Almost 200 Feet
  • Gondolas: Climate Controlled

Fortunately, the modern one (unlike the 1995 Wheel) has climate-control gondolas making it a year-round attraction.