Navy Pier Centennial Wheel Tickets | Tribute to the Original Ferris Wheel

(3 customer reviews)


Last updated on May 26, 2024 4:58 pm
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The original Ferris wheel was built in Chicago in the 1800s. Over a hundred years later, a tribute to the original was built called the Navy Pier Centennial Wheel. With modern heated gondolas and an interactive screen that allows you to learn fun facts about the wheel, this ride is such a fun way to see Chicago in all its glory.

A beautiful part of the Chicago skyline and culturally significant to the city’s history, the Navy Pier Centennial Wheel is a masterpiece attraction. When you look at the history of the Ferris wheel itself, you’ll find it’s pretty interesting how this specific one came to be.

Designed by engineer George Washington Gale Ferris Jr in 1893, the Ferris wheel was built to rival the newly constructed Eiffel Tower in Paris. You might be wondering where George decided to place this modern marvel? In Chicago, of course.

A hundred years later, in 1995, the first Ferris wheel was constructed at the Navy Pier and was built to resemble the original from 1893. Finally, in 2016, on the centennial anniversary of the Navy Pier, the stunning ode to the original was opened.

From the first ever Ferris wheel to the giant centennial wheel located there today, Chicago’s history is intertwined with one of the most fun attractions to participate in.

So the next time you’re in Chicago, there is no question about a visit to the Navy Pier Centennial Wheel. Being at the top, nearly 200 feet in the air, you’ll have the most fantastic unobstructed view of Chicago and Lake Michigan from your little gondola.

If you’ve grown weary of the classic Chicago lake tours and you’re in the mood for some new fun, then the absolute stunner that is the Navy Pier Centennial Wheel is a must.


  • The gondolas are heated so that you can enjoy the view at any time of the year.
  • You’ll have three complete revolutions of the wheel, which gives you more than enough time to take in the views.
  • Of course, the 360° panoramic view of Chicago.

Know before you book:

  • Children aged 2 and under ride for free.
  • Because the wheel cannot be run in bad weather such as lightning and windy conditions, your ticket will usually allow flexible dates so you can plan around it.
  • Service animals are permitted.

Navy Pier with Chicago city in the background

The gondolas of the Navy Pier Centennial Wheel allow you to partake in the ride during any season, as they can be heated and have air conditioning. So there’s no excuse other than bad weather not to go visit this majestic wheel.

And if you visit between Memorial Day and Labor Day, you can catch fireworks shows from the gondolas on Wednesdays and Sundays. You can only imagine the beauty of the fireworks lighting up the sky as you have the perfect front row seat at the top of the wheel.

Each ride lasts around thirteen minutes, which gives you ample time to enjoy the ride and views. And since this Ferris wheel is among the top ten tallest Ferris wheels in the United States, you can see almost the entirety of Chicago from the top. Each gondola has space for eight adults and two children. This makes a trip on the Ferris wheel a great choice for you to bring the whole family along for the ride.

Must-haves for Navy Pier Centennial Wheel ride:

  • Camera
  • Sunscreen (you can still get a sunburn in the gondola)
  • A fun and excited vibe

Each gondola has a multimedia entertainment system that shows exciting facts about the Navy Pier wheel during the ride on interactive video screens. They also have individual seats, which differs from most Ferris wheels in the world that use bench seating.

Navy Pier Centennial Ferris Wheel with Merry Go Round in front of it

So if you love adventure and have an appreciation for the beauty of natural scenery, architecture, and timeless fun, you definitely need to go on a Navy Pier Centennial Wheel ride.

Navy Pier Ferris Wheel Tickets 2023

The Navy Pier Centennial Wheel tickets differ according to age, status, and whether or not you purchase a package. Regular tickets for adults are $18, while active military personnel and children between 3 and 11 pay $15. Fast pass tickets for adults are $28 and for the military and children between 3 and 11 are $25.

There are also play-the-park tickets that include unlimited rides of every attraction at the Navy Pier, including the wheel. These range from $50 to $100, depending on how many days your purchased ticket is valid.

Some packages include the entrance ticket, a fast pass ticket, and one ride on the Centennial Wheel.

Navy Pier Ferris Wheel Hours

Navy Pier entrance with Ferris wheel in the background

The hours of the Navy Pier Centennial Wheel coincide with the park’s hours of operation. You can go on a ride between 11 am and 8 pm from Sunday to Thursday. On Fridays and Saturdays, you have more time as they open at 11 am and close at 10 pm.

Best Time to Visit the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel, Chicago

There is no absolute best time to go as it’s always the best time to go. With the temperature-controlled gondolas, you can enjoy the Centennial Wheel 365 days of the year, seven days a week. Please note that during rough weather, such as lightning and wind, the wheel cannot run.

But if we’re being realistic, this popular Chicago Ferris wheel garners a lot of attraction from tourists. So the tourist season, usually spring and summer (March to August), will be the busiest.

Tip: If you don’t want to wait in line for hours or don’t want to buy a fast pass ticket, avoiding these months will be the best.

Navy Pier Ferris wheel with another ride in front of it

  • Time of Year: The winter and fall months (September to February) will be the best time to go if you want to avoid the busy tourist season.
  • Time of Week: Since most people will be at the pier during the weekend due to work, going on a weekday will give you the best chance of a short line.
  • Time of Day: If you want to experience the absolute best views, we recommend going between noon and sunset (depending on whether sunset happens before they close). Imagine riding in a gondola, 200 feet in the air while the sun sets. Absolute bliss.

Navy Pier Centennial Wheel, Chicago Rides

With different tickets and many packages, you’re probably confused about which one to get. We have found the best inclusive packages for you to spend time at Navy Pier and ride the popular Navy Pier Chicago Wheel.

Chicago: Navy Pier Centennial Wheel Regular & Express Ticket

Chicago skyline with Navy Pier Centennial Ferris wheel

This ticket ranges from around $20, depending on which options you choose.

Experience the gorgeous views from the Navy Pier Centennial Wheel at the historic Navy Pier in Chicago. On this ride, you’ll be suspended over Lake Michigan, one of the five Great Lakes, where you can gaze out over the beautiful Chicago skyline and take in the lake’s sparkling waters.

With this package, you can choose between two options. The Regular Barcoded ticket allows you to skip the ticket line and go straight for the wheel. The Fastpass Express ticket will enable you to skip both lines and jump straight on the ride with VIP access. Both options allow you to decide when you want to go on the wheel, as long as it is within seven days of buying the ticket.

Aerial view of Navy Pier and the Ferris wheel

What we liked: The Fastpass access, which allowed us to skip the ticket and wait lines.

  • Centennial Pier entrance ticket (if option selected)
  • Fastpass Express Centennial Pier entrance ticket (if option selected)
  • 1 ride on the Centennial Wheel (3 revolutions)

  • Parking fees
  • Lockers
  • Transportation to and from Navy Pier

If you don’t want to wait in line all day, this package is perfect. Enjoy the wonderful experience of a Navy Pier Centennial Wheel ride without all the fuss. And then, when you’ve ridden the Navy Pier Centennial Wheel at least ten times, have a look at this guide to some more activities all over the USA for your next destination.

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Navy Pier Centennial Wheel Tickets | Tribute to the Original Ferris Wheel
Navy Pier Centennial Wheel, Chicago
With gorgeous views and a fun ride to boot, the Navy Pier Centennial Wheel is an experience that cannot be missed. As one of the six tallest Ferris wheels in the United States, you’ll have a great time looking out over the Chicago skyline and the water of Lake Michigan. And with Fastpass tickets and VIP access, you don’t even have to wait in line.
Value for Money
Level of Activity
  • The fantastic 360° view of the Chicago skyline
  • Fastpass access which allows you to skip the ticket and ride lines
  • The heated gondolas that allow you to be comfortable even in cold weather.
  • There’s no transportation included to and from the Navy Pier
  • You'll also have to pay separately for lunch, parking fees, lockers, and other park rides
  • The wheel can be shut down on short notice due to bad weather

Specification: Navy Pier Centennial Wheel Tickets | Tribute to the Original Ferris Wheel


The gondolas are not accessible to wheelchair users


Between 12 and 15 minutes per ride


Fastpass access, entrance ticket, one ride on the wheel


Parking fees, lockers, other park rides, transportation


Not included


Not included

Suited for

Families, couples, groups

3 reviews for Navy Pier Centennial Wheel Tickets | Tribute to the Original Ferris Wheel

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    GetYourGuide traveler

    Es hat sich total gelohnt. Ich war anfangs etwas zögerlich, da das Wetter kalt war. Aber sie hatten eine gemütliche, klimatisierte Einrichtung unter Deck, was hilfreich war. Der Führer war sehr kompetent. Sie hat uns alle mit ein paar guten Witzen zwischendurch beschäftigt. Wir haben nicht einmal bemerkt, dass 90 Minuten wie ein Kinderspiel vergingen.

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    GetYourGuide traveler

    The wait wasn't long. Line moved pretty quickly. The car we were in was nicely airconditioned, and clean on the inside. The ride was most enjoyable, smooth, and very beautiful. My only complaint, the windows were dirty! 99.9% of the reason that ANYONE gets on this thing is to take photos. The windows were rain stained, and just dirty. It's not like you need a crane to clean these. They could be wiped off regularly. That's all. Very scenic, very pretty. Just wish the windows were cleaner.

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    GetYourGuide traveler

    Wasn’t for sure were the location was with gps taking me to another location with in the actual loading area. When getting on the boat seating was fairly easy the view was amazing. Very calming. Bar was closed when i went to get a drink. Wasn’t overly crowed with people. Definitely recommend the boat ride.

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    Navy Pier Centennial Wheel Tickets | Tribute to the Original Ferris Wheel
    Navy Pier Centennial Wheel Tickets | Tribute to the Original Ferris Wheel
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