South African revolutionary Robert Sobukwe once said, “The wheel of progress revolves relentlessly…” There is perhaps no better (or more literal) representation of this thought than Ferris wheels. Since George Ferris’ original “Great Wheel” debuted in 1893, these rotating wonders have been emblematic of human ingenuity and sign of an optimistic future. For the exciting conclusion of Wheel Works with ICON Park, we’re excited to take a look at some of the amazing innovative Ferris wheel technology as well as one of Central Florida’s very own wheel wizards!
Rolling Into the Future
1. Ain Dubai
In the greatest tradition of Ferris wheels, the gargantuan Ain Dubai is slated to open in October 2021 as the uncontested star of Expo 2020 (a modern-day World’s Fair). Standing a dizzying 688-ft., this sky-scraping spinner will smash Las Vegas’ High Roller as the tallest observation wheel in the world. Each of the Ain Dubai’s 192 spokes are longer than a football field and its rim alone weighs as much The Wheel at ICON Park. Fitted with 48 double-glazed luxury capsules, the Ain Dubai rotates its passengers above Bluewaters Island over the course of 45 minutes. No doubt about, George Ferris would be proud!
2. The Slidewheel
When was the last time you saw a Ferris wheel at a water park? Unless you’ve ridden the Slidewheel at Chimelong Water Park in Guangzhou, China, you probably haven’t! This whimsical water wheel puts a new “spin” on the traditional tube slide with its rotating flumes that send guests on a gravity-defying raft ride. Okay… so it’s not technically a “Ferris wheel,” but the Slidewheel uses some of the same principles of gravity and momentum to leave its guest dizzy, soaked, and smiling. We don’t know about you, but we’d love one for our backyard pools!
3. The Green Wheel
Ever wanted a Ferris wheel in your own home? Well, while you might be a little big to ride the experimental Green Wheel, it uses tried and true Ferris wheel engineering along with NASA-inspired hydroponic technology to grow a revolving garden. Once conceived as a way to cultivate vegetables in space, the Green Wheel rotates the bed of plants around the central light source. A reservoir at the base of the wheel waters plant roots along their circuitous journey. This space-age use of the Ferris wheel was developed by the award-winning DesignLibero studio in Milan. It’s perfect indoor garden for anyone that ever wanted to toss a salad while growing it!
4. Ferris Wheel Lifts
There are few more exciting ways to experience the sights of a city than an observation wheel. But if these rotating wonders could actually take us to new heights as a form of transportation! A proposal by architect Tsang KingChun suggests that the Ferris wheel might make an ideal replacement for the traditional elevator, capable of lifting more people with greater efficiency while occupying less space than a typical elevator system. One thing’s for sure, it would sure make that trip to the top floor a lot more fun!
5. The Dutch Windwheel
Since their inception, observation wheels have been built as architectural statements of innovation and wonder. However, Rotterdam’s proposed Dutch Windwheel looks to turn the framework of a Ferris wheel into an entertainment, residential, and power-generating structure of the future. The Windwheel’s plans propose an ultra-modern, glass-enclosed Ferris wheel that rotates around a circular multi-use complex, home to apartments, hotel suites, restaurants, a shopping center, and even a cruise ship terminal! The open center will serve as a sort of windmill, harnessing energy along with building’s solar façade and rainwater collection system to power the Windwheel’s facilities. Talk about wheels of progress!
When George Ferris saw the first anxious guests take flight aboard the Chicago Wheel, it’s unlikely that even his genius could conceive the generations of innovators his World’ Fair amusement would inspire. The Ferris wheels of tomorrow are poised to roll us into new frontiers from entertainment all the way through agriculture and even sustainable energy! No matter where these wheels of progress take us, we at ICON Park are proud to be a part of the legacy of these mechanical monuments to human creativity.
Winning at Wheels!
Speaking of creativity, we at ICON Park are proud to share with you the work of one a true mechanical master. Major congratulations go to @wedhead1952, who built this incredible popsicle stick interpretation of The Wheel at ICON Park as part of our #iconwheelworks challenge. You are a real wheel wizard! To all those still building along at home, be sure to keep sharing your homemade wheels with us on social media. You might just earn yourself a chance to be featured!
We hope you’ve had as much fun as we have exploring the stories, science, and significance behind The Wheel and its sky-scraping siblings. Of course, our favorite way to experience how The Wheel works is taking flight aboard this Central Florida icon. We can’t wait to invite all of you back to play, party, and own the sky here at Orlando’s Hometown Playground!