Every year on Aug. 1, we celebrate a little. It’s a day affectionately known in our house as the Top of the Ferris Wheel Day.
In the children’s story Tuck Everlasting, author Natalie Babbett describes the beginning of August this way.
From the top of the Ferris wheel, you can look behind you and see all the good summer times you’ve had so far. And you can see the whole month of hot, lazy fun still ahead. The best times are yet to come.
With a nod to Boston Globe columnist Beverly Beckham, and in honor of another rotation around the sun, we give you the best Ferris wheels we’ve been on—and a few we are crossing off our life list very soon.
Great Balloon Chase
Story Land, Glen, NH
This is a fantastic starter Ferris wheel—just to test your little one’s tolerance of heights. It’s a slow mover, and at 40 feet tall, the smallest wheel on our list. When Radar was 2, she thought this was totally magical. Adults, play along: Childhood is short. Do the baby rides.
Giant Sky Wheel
Canobie Lake, Salem NH
This one gets up there! It’s got a beautiful view of the park’s namesake lake from 90 feet above, and I’m pretty sure I got my first kiss here. Parents, don’t miss your chance to steal one from your partner. Do your job here and time it nicely at the peak. You’ll make each other’s day.
Fiesta Ferris Wheel
Topsfield Fair, Topsfield, Mass.
I’d be remiss without this beauty on the list. We’ve taken this ride more than 10 times, on the Midway of one the oldest county fairs, celebrating 200 years this fall. This was one of the first dates I took the Adventurer on, early in our courtship, and the fortune teller yelled after us: “Wait, come back, I want to tell you about your son…” WEIRD BUT TRUE. We ran for the 55-foot Ferris wheel, stealing side glances at each other to gauge whether we were freaking out or OK with the idea. Thank you, Madame Gypsy—you were right.
Pacific Park, Santa Monica, Calif.
This famous Ferris wheel was a delightful surprise the first time we saw it—just like in the movies. Planted on its perch right on the edge of the Santa Monica pier, this solar-powered wheel is like an oasis for children, its neon lights calling from far away. Overlooking the ocean, at 130 feet tall, it’s beautiful in the daytime, irresistible at night.
Ferris Wheel Inside Toys R Us
Toys R Us, Times Square, NY
We were lucky, we made it to this 60-foot indoor icon before it shuttered in 2015—and now even Toys R Us has closed its doors (good job, greedy investment bankers). But before we get too sad that we can’t ride with Geoffrey and be Toys R Us kids anymore, you should know, the famous cars were donated to nonprofit resort Give Kids the World Village, in Orlando, Fla., where sick children and their families go to meet Santa. These characters from My Little Pony to Toy Story make the parade for these kids. And the story continues.
The London Eye
Westminster Bridge Road, London, England
Launched in 2000, the Eye has been the No. 1 visitor attraction in the U.K. for more than a decade. Situated on the south bank of the Thames, opposite the Houses of Parliament, the ride on this 135-meter (443-foot) wheel gives a full view of the best London has to offer. Radar especially loved this on her three-week tour of the U.K. with ISCA. The large, cantilevered cars accommodate up to 25 people each. And here’s how you can make it a thrill ride: Rent one car out for a romantic, 30-minute ride for two (Champagne and chocolates included). Dads and moms, get on board with this—bonus points for a little romantic time out in London. If you don’t want champagne, the ride is now fully sponsored by Coca-Cola. So you won’t go thirsty.
Now here’s our short list for Ferris wheels we’re on board with in the near future.
Disney California Adventure, Anaheim, Calif.
We can’t wait to hop aboard this renovated revolving ride. What was once Mickey’s Fun Wheel (and before that, the Sun Wheel) has now been given another makeover, Pixar style. The 160-foot wheel reopened in June, and we’re headed straight for it, day 1 of our upcoming West Coast adventure. This will be the Captain’s first Ferris wheel. (No fortune teller required here.)
High Roller Observation Wheel
The Linq, Las Vegas
High Roller is the apex of Ferris wheels, the tallest in the world at 550 feet above the ground. Of course, it’s Vegas, so they host “happy half hour in the sky” every day from noon to 1 a.m. But we’re going family style, and they offer this package, which is a great deal. Plus, children younger than 6 ride free. This will be the final stop of our trip out West, so we get one last view of summer behind us, overlooking the glitter and gold of the Las Vegas Strip. The Adventurer, for all of his adventuring, has yet to check Sin City off of his life list, so stay tuned. Because what happens in Vegas this time probably won’t stay in Vegas.
Whatever you do with this last beautiful month of North American summer, before the wheel finishes its revolution and it’s time to jump off, be sure to take the time at the top to appreciate where you’ve been.
And take a moment to be excited about where you’re going.
Shelagh Braley is a Boston-based luxury/adventure travel journalist. She and her life-listing husband, teen and preschooler share their REAL tales of finding the awesome as they travel together. Come along with us. #mylifelist #findwhatmatters
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