Blog

New Ferris Wheel: History in the Making

By Ryan Strayhorn | January 2, 2022

Ferris wheels are an iconic attraction of festivals and fairs, in fact it’s the most iconic carnival ride in the world. Ferris wheels are also the backdrop, centerpiece and/or most iconic moments in any movie featuring a carnival which only adds to the popularity of ferris wheels. Due to the popularity, we at ACP Entertainment have decided to purchase a brand new ferris wheel to add to our lineup of attractions. What makes it historic? First, a little history.

Stock Montage / Getty Images / Smithsonian Magazine

The very first ferris wheel opened at the Worlds Columbian Exposition in Chicago in June of 1983 and was invented by George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. As you may have guessed, the name Ferris wheel comes from his last name and has stuck as the generic name of all attractions like his original 250 foot Giant Wheel ride.

While Ferris’ wheel was the first of its kind, the first portable ferris wheel attraction was built in 1900 by William Sullivan called “Big Eli.” This 45 foot ferris wheel was completely broken down and moved inside of a trailer which meant every piece had to come apart. The company that formed out of Sullivan’s innovation was called the Eli Bridge Company and is still in operation today.

Today, portable ferris wheels are trailer mounted which is much different than the original “Big Eli” wheel that had to be taken apart and transported in a trailer. Jerry Wisdom is who we have to thank for that incredible invention. In 1957, Jerry dismantled the family carnivals ferris wheel and mounted it to a trailer, a tank hauler trailer to be exact. And thus, the trailer mounted ferris wheel was born.

Today, all portable ferris wheels are trailer mounted in some fashion or another with the largest portable wheel called the “Midway Sky Eye Wheel” and stands 155 feet tall. This wheel takes 12 trailers to move and is operated by “Biggest Wheel, LLC” in Florida.

Prototype of the “Rental Wheel” at Wisdom Rides manufacturing plant

The manufacturer that we chose to build our Ferris Wheel is Wisdom Rides, ironically founded by Jerry Wisdom who first mounted a ferris wheel on a trailer. Wisdom is making history once again with the creation of the “Rental Wheel,” a portable ferris wheel specifically designed for the ride rental industry. ACP Entertainment will be the first company with this ride in the country and we’re incredibly excited to bring it to the Midwest market. Wisdom has designed this ferris wheel to setup and tear down within 2 hours with 2 people and can be transported with a 5500 pickup truck. This 10 seat ferris wheel can accommodate up to 30 riders and stands 40’ tall. It will feature a beautiful LED light show and even have pre-built sign channels for branding overlays.

ACP Entertainment has been in the carnival ride market for 6 years and have heard countless requests for ferris wheels. These requests led to the decision to buy not just a regular ferris wheel, but a ride that would perfectly match the demands of our business model and beyond. Unlike the rest of our attractions, our Ferris Wheel will be available for rent not only in Michigan but also Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Virginia and New York. Other locations may be considered upon request.

We are incredibly excited to bring this new ride to the market and look forward to continue to create Memorable Events across the Midwest! Contact our team to learn more and get a quote for your event by calling us at 616-826-8220 or emailing us.

Sources:

Smithsonian Magazine; https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/history-ferris-wheel-180955300/

Northern Public Radio; https://www.northernpublicradio.org/illinois/2021-05-24/this-week-in-illinois-history-big-eli-the-first-portable-ferris-wheel-may-23-1900

Carnival Warehouse; https://carnivalwarehouse.com/newsserver-print/wisdom-rides-welcomes-new-generation-of-leadership-1541548800

The Southern Weekend; http://thesouthernweekend.com/biggest-mobile-ferris-wheel-america/

Book Today!