Today, we recognize the Ferris wheel as the first and tallest sign from afar that a carnival has come to town, but history tells us the story of the ride’s namesake, George W.G. Ferris Jr. He first introduced the giant revolving wheel made of steel at the 1893 World’s Fair as an answer to the Eiffel Tower and a tribute to America’s ingenuity.
Fast forward to today—when you’re looking for ways to entertain the whole family or out-of-town guests, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Just look up at these three Ferris wheels within arms reach here in Dallas-Fort Worth. Two are open year-round that you can visit any time you feel inclined, and another wheel returns during the annual State Fair of Texas.
Where: 5740 Grandscape Blvd., Suite 300, The Colony
When: The wheel is open year-round Wednesday and Thursday 6–10pm; Friday 5–10pm; Saturday and Sunday noon–10pm; closed Monday and Tuesday.
Contact: 972/410-0298; email@example.com
How much: Regular tickets run about $16 for adults, $12 for children, and free for 3 and younger.
What to know: This new, permanent attraction now open at Grandscape in The Colony. The latest addition to the ever-expanding entertainment district is the a 180-foot-tall Ferris wheel—nay, observation wheel—with 42 glass gondolas designed for riders to experience panoramic views of the North Texas prairie below.
It’s got the feel of the famed London Eye and other mega-sized Ferris wheels around the world. Each gondola is fully-enclosed, air-conditioned and even wheelchair accessible, which means it’s safe, comfortable and open to all ages and abilities to slide in for an unforgettable ride.
Every family gets their own private gondola, seating up to eight people at a time. For a more intimate experience, ask for the luxury gondola with a glass-bottom floor and four Ferrari-style leather seats from which to take in the sights.
If your height-averse kids struggle to understand the appeal, offer to take them up at sunset for the most gorgeous views that shift every moment of rotation, or go after dark when the Grandscape Wheel is lit up like Christmas.
Where: Scheel’s at Grandscape, 4450 Destination Drive, The Colony
When: Open during regular store hours. Holiday hours vary by day but are generally 11am–7pm on Sunday and 9:30am–9pm Monday through Saturday.
Contact: 469/854-7500; email the store
How much: $1 per ride.
What to know: Interestingly enough, this is other Ferris wheel at Grandscape. You’ll find a smaller, 65-footer inside the multi-story sporting goods store Scheels. This less-vertigo-inducing ride, available anytime during store hours and is open to everyone at least 36 inches tall.
Where: The carnival midway at Fair Park, 3921 Martin Luther King Jr., Boulevard, Dallas
When: You can see the Texas Star up all year but it only operates during the State Fair, returning September 30–October 23, 2022
Contact: 214/565-9931; firstname.lastname@example.org
How much: State Fair admission starts at $15 for adults, $10 for children, and free for 2 and younger. Use promo code 22childCOMBO for discounted ticket bundles. Ride coupons are $1 each, and in recent years, the Texas Star has cost 20 coupons per ride.
What to know: First introduced in 1985, this iconic Ferris wheel at Fair Park is the largest in Texas. This icon in the Dallas skyline stands 212 feet 6 inches (that’s about 20 stories) and holds up to 264 passengers at once in multi-colored gondolas that are enclosed with stainless steel tubing. From here you’ll get the best view of the entire park. The Texas Star’s original 16,000 incandescent bulbs have been replaced with most energy efficient LEDs, which make for a dizzying view of the light show from the ground. Take a ride up and you’ll be tempted to ride the State Fair’s other attraction: the 500-foot Top O’ Texas Tower.
This article was originally published in December 2021.
Photos courtesy of Robert Soos, Danny Bollinger, Scheels, and Kevin Brown, State Fair of Texas