Bright lights, thrilling rides, and the distant smell of funnel cakes—for over a century, the Ferris wheel has been an iconic centerpiece of carnivals, fairs, and amusement parks. These giant rotating wheels give riders a bird’s-eye view while they loop the sky.
But have you ever wondered what goes into building one of these whirling giants? If you’ve dreamed of constructing your own gravity-defying Ferris wheel, you probably want to know: how much does it cost?
In this article, we’ll break down the typical price range for custom Ferris wheels. We’ll look at the factors that impact costs. And we’ll spotlight pricing for some of the most famous Ferris wheels around the world.
- Small Ferris wheels typically cost $200k – $400k
- Medium sized wheels run $750k – $2 million
- Large landmark Ferris wheels can cost $5 million to over $20 million
- Indoor wheels offer weatherproofing and theming
- Unique wheel variations like transportable models available
- Work with an experienced custom manufacturer for your build
How Much Does a Ferris Wheel Cost?
It costs between $200,000 and $20,000,000 or more to build a Ferris Wheel, depending on its size, the materials you build it with, where it is installed, and so on. But more about different variations in prices in the sections below:
Cost to Build a Small Ferris Wheel
15-25 meters (49-82 feet)
A small, portable Ferris wheel in this size range can accommodate about 16 riders. It’s suitable for carnivals, boardwalks, and small events.
Small Ferris wheels cost $200,000 to $400,000 on average. Lower-end models from discount manufacturers may cost as little as $100,000. Higher-end wheels with upgraded features run $500,000 to $750,000.
This compact and affordable scale makes small carnival Ferris wheels accessible for many first-time owners. Their transportable design also opens up flexible location options.
Cost for a Medium-Sized Ferris Wheel
30-50 meters (98-164 feet)
Medium-sized Ferris wheels soar higher than their smaller counterparts, though still below record heights. They typically fit 24-40 riders.
The average cost for a medium Ferris wheel is $750,000 to $2 million. More basic 30-meter wheels can cost toward the bottom of this range. Larger 50-meter wheels with more bells and whistles land closer to $2 million.
While not cheap, this mid-range scale remains usable for many fairs, theme parks, and event planners. The awe-inspiring views keep riders coming back.
Cost to Construct a Large Ferris Wheel
80-120 meters (262-394 feet)
Once you get into the Giant Ferris wheel category, costs skyrocket. But so do the sights! With heights rivaling 10-story buildings, these giant wheels make a dramatic statement for any cityscape.
Constructing a big Ferris wheel costs $5 million to $20 million on average. The high price tag is worth it for major amusement parks and tourist destinations looking to draw big crowds.
Let’s look at some record-setting real-world examples in this size range next.
Record-Breaking Ferris Wheels Around the World
Some of the most renowned Ferris wheels give a sense of the big budgets required for mega-sized landmark-worthy structures.
|165 meters (541 feet)
|World’s tallest observation wheel until 2014
|135 meters (443 feet)
|Europe’s tallest Ferris wheel, carrying 32 capsules
|Las Vegas High Roller
|167 meters (550 feet)
|World’s tallest Ferris wheel from 2014-2017
|210 meters (689 feet)
|Current world’s tallest Ferris wheel
As you can see, while large Ferris wheels require serious capital, they also become major attractions. Their construction costs are an investment in decades of tourism.
What Impacts the Cost of a Ferris Wheel Ride?
Several factors determine the price tag for a new Ferris wheel:
- Size – The bigger the wheel, the bigger the price. Larger wheels fitting more riders cost exponentially more.
- Materials – Stainless steel structures are the most expensive. Aluminum or galvanized steel cost less but still ensure safety.
- Design Details – Features like lighting, led lights, theming, and enclosed gondolas add to the overall cost.
- Labor – Constructing and installing a Ferris wheel takes major manpower, which adds cost.
- Location – Where you build impacts transportation fees and local labor expenses.
Next, let’s explore typical prices based on Ferris wheel size.
Popular Indoor Ferris Wheels
While outdoor Ferris wheels are amusement rides that get all the height records, indoor wheels also provide thrills. Let’s look at some of the tallest examples:
- Cosmo Clock 21 – Japan – 112 meters (367 feet) tall
- Mickey’s Fun Wheel – Disney California Adventure – 80 meters (263 feet)
- Da Vinci’s Inferno – Italy – 75 meters (246 feet)
- Giant Wheel – Berlin – 60 meters (197 feet)
Though they can’t match open-air wheels for height, indoor wheels make up for it with immersive theming and climate-controlled comfort. They also avoid seasonal slow periods in colder months.
Ferris Wheel History – Where Did They Originate?
But let’s first look back at the history of the beloved Ferris wheel. This gives context on how these spinning attractions became so popular across the globe.
The original Ferris wheel made its debut at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Engineer George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. designed the massive ride to rival the Eiffel Tower exhibit at the Paris Exposition.
Ferris’ wheel soared 80 meters (264 feet) tall. It featured 36 wooden cars each holding 60 riders. The amazing landmark captured the public’s imagination. Over 1.5 million people rode Ferris’ wheel during the fair.
The success sparked a ferris wheel craze across America and Europe. Hundreds of wheel variations popped up at fairs, carnivals, and parks. Rides like the Grande Roue de Paris Ferris Wheel drew huge crowds.
Early 20th century wheels gave way to even larger observation wheels. In 1989, the 107-meter Cosmo Clock 21 from Japan held the “world’s tallest” title. Later giants like the London Eye and Singapore Flyer surpassed it.
Today you can find this classic ride scaling all sizes – from mini Ferris wheels at county fairs to mega wheels dominating city skylines. Their complex engineering and unobstructed views keep them beloved.
Wheel Variations – Double Wheels, Transportable Wheels & More
Beyond traditional circular Ferris wheels, some novel variations add a fresh twist. Here are a few examples:
Double Ferris Wheels – Riders sit in cars facing both directions on both sides of the wheel. This doubles capacity.
Transportable Wheels – Portable mini Ferris wheels as small as 7 meters (23 feet) can be easily towed to events.
Eccentric Wheels – Shaped like ovals or staggering figure-8s, they provide unexpected dips and turns.
Giant Observation Wheels – Massive wheels that focus on panoramic views with scaled-down rider areas.
Building Your Own Custom Amusement Park Ferris Wheel
If you want to build your own Ferris wheel, specialized manufacturers can turn your vision into reality. Reputable companies like Beston work with you from initial planning to final installation.
The process involves:
- Choosing size, scale, and design details
- Selecting optimal materials for safety, durability, and cost
- Factory production of assembled modules
- Transporting sections to your site
- Full construction, assembly and integration
- Safety inspections and test runs
- Training your operating staff
Be sure to get quotes from multiple manufacturers before deciding on your partner. Prices for custom projects vary greatly based on your exact specifications.
Enjoy the Views from the Top!
Part of the magic of a Ferris wheel is seeing the world from new heights. While building one requires a major investment, the payoff in thrills and memories is immense.
Whether you’re looking to construct a small, portable wheel or a towering permanently fixed wheel, understanding cost factors is key. Keep safety, quality, and long-term durability in mind above just price alone.
With smart planning and a reliable manufacturer, you can open the door for riders to reach the skies on your own spectacular ferris wheel.
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