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 now. When you’re looking for ways to entertain the whole family and out-of-town guests for the holidays, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Just look up at these three Ferris wheels within arms reach here in Dallas-Fort Worth. One is open just during the holidays, as part of many more winter carnival activities in Frisco.
Another is brand new observation wheel of a different caliber and at an impressive height (that nearly rivals the iconic 212-foot Texas Star at the State Fair of Texas). Plus, it’s open year-round so you can go any time you feel inclined.
Where: 5740 Grandscape Blvd., Suite 300, The Colony; 972/410-0298
When: The wheel is open year-round, Wednesday through Friday 4–10pm, Saturday and Sunday noon–10pm; closed Monday and Tuesday.
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.
Thanks to COVID-19 safety protocols, 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 district and the wheel itself are literally lit up like Christmas.
Plus: You’ll get the best “Santa’s sleigh-eye view” during some of the entertainment district’s holiday events, such as the Grinchmas Family Festival on Saturday, Dec. 11, when the Grinch hosts kids activities and meet and greets, followed by a movie-watching party on the lawn in front of the concert stage.
Where: 4450 Destination Drive, The Colony; 469/854-7500
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.
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: Riders Field, 7300 Roughriders Trail, Frisco
When: Through January 1, 2022
How much: Get the $14.99 fast pass option for more treats and perks in addition to regular admission, which starts at $29.99 for adults and $19.99 for children—a small price to pay for the memories to rotate in your head all year.
What to know: In the event that this news prompts your more adventurous kids to declare they want to “ride every Ferris wheel in the city!” (true words that have actually been spoken), check out Radiance! Frozen in Frisco, open through New Year’s Day. This year, Radiance! has expanded from a drive-thru light show to a full-on Christmas carnival with an 85-foot Ferris wheel towering over it all. You’ll want to stay for hours thanks to the ice skating, ice hill tubing, snowball toss, and even bumper cars on ice.
Photos courtesy of Robert Soos, Danny Bollinger, Scheels, and Peerless Production Group, LLC