It is the gate to the midway! The Ferris wheel has been a favorite ride among carnival goers for years. It is absolutely one of the most perfect rides. High enough to give a thrilling adrenaline rush to those who are afraid of heights yet gentle enough to be one of baby’s first rides.
Not all Ferris wheels are created equal though. The original Ferris Wheel (designed by George Washington Ferris, Jr. and built in 1893) stood 264 ft (80 meters) high and could carry 2160 people! It had 36 cars, each ready to hold 40 seated people and 20 standing.
Today’s average wheel (at least the ones I have seen) is designed to hold only 2-8 people per gondola. I have seen them as short as about 8 feet high and heard of them being as tall as 541 feet! Some go slow enough to bring smiles to the face of a little baby. Others have the power to churn the stomach of even the toughest adults!
The biggest Ferris Wheel in Texas (also the biggest running wheel in the US) is the Texas Star. It is one of the most popular rides in the state and a must for those who have the opportunity to go to the State Fair of Texas! You can see a list of some of the biggest Ferris Wheels in the world at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferris_wheel and learn more about the upcoming 208 meter (682 ft) Great Wheel of China at http://shanghaiist.com/2007/11/06/coming_soon_the.php .
Ferris Wheel Trivia
Did you know that a ride on the Ferris wheel can signify marriage among carnies? In many carnival cultures, when a couple rides together on the Ferris wheel, they are considered married. — If they decide that it was a mistake, divorce can be achieved by either riding the Ferris wheel backward or by going for a ride on the carousel.
At 213 feet (65 meters) high, the Texas Star is currently the 18th tallest Ferris Wheel on Earth and the 20th tallest Ferris Wheel ever! Even at this impressive height, the Texas Star is a dwarf compared to our planet’s current highest wheel: the Singapore Flyer (541 feet – 165 meters high) and the upcoming Great Beijing Wheel of China (682 feet – 208 meters high, expected to be completed in 2009)
The part of the Ferris wheel that you ride in is called a Gondola.
A Walk Down Memory Lane
The first Ferris wheel ride I remember was when I was about twelve years old. My six year old cousin and I rode with four teenagers. Everybody but me was so scared of the height … It made me feel almost invincible!
And yes, my first (and so far only) marriage took place on a carnival Ferris wheel. I thought he was the man of my dreams. We got hitched on November 22, 2001 (Thanksgiving) in a K-mart parking lot in San Antonio, Texas. I still dream that some day, when I officially get married, it might be in front of a Ferris wheel 🙂