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The Track plans to open a 150-foot tall Ferris wheel on the Highway 76 strip by Memorial Day.Photo provided by THE TRACK
The Track plans to open a 150-foot tall Ferris wheel on the Highway 76 strip by Memorial Day.

Photo provided by THE TRACK

The Track buys Chicago Ferris wheel for Branson strip

Posted online
Branson go-kart operator The Track Family Fun Parks this summer plans to bring Chicago’s Navy Pier Ferris wheel to the Highway 76 strip.

President and CEO Craig Wescott said the company closed mid-January on the purchase of the 150-foot tall Ferris wheel. On Jan. 28, the city of Branson’s board of adjustment approved a variance for the attraction to be added to the company’s Track 4, 3345 W. 76 Country Blvd.

The Track is investing $2.5 million on the attraction, which includes the price of the wheel, installation and the addition of needed infrastructure. The Track purchased the wheel - which was dismantled in September after a 20-year run at Chicago’s Navy Pier - for less than $2 million from Dutch Wheels, a manufacturer from the Netherlands that also is installing a new 196-foot Ferris wheel in conjunction with the Navy Pier’s 100th anniversary.

Wescott said an industry connection led to The Track learning the wheel was for sale. Though it did not go through a bidding process, he said at one point multiple destination operators were interested.

“It’s a neat story that Chicago’s had, and it was based off of the original Ferris wheel by George Ferris,” Wescott said. “We love the historical aspect and definitely are going to pay honor to that as we get it into Branson.”

The Track is targeting a Memorial Day opening date for the attraction, which would be installed where Track 4’s Gator Golf course is now.

He said the company anticipates seeing the wheel roll into town within the next two weeks.

“We don’t know what that looks like yet,” Wescott said. “My guess is it would be one major shipment.”

The attraction would mark the only large Ferris wheel in Branson, Wescott said, noting The Track and another company operate smaller wheels for children. Celebration City previously operated one in town.

The 40-gondola wheel can hold up to 240 people. It also has around 16,000 lights.

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