BRANSON, Mo. – Another multi-million dollar attraction has been announced in Branson.
The owner of the Track Family Fun Parks in Branson unveiled plans Friday, to bring a 150-foot tall Ferris wheel from the “windy city” to the “city on the strip.”
“They’re very happy to see it go to a place like Branson,” says Tracks Family Fun Park’s owner, Craig Wescott, “that appreciates history and appreciates icons.”
He says the Ferris wheel was a staple at Chicago’s Navy Pier for more than two decades, before it was replaced last year.
Wescott says he pulled the trigger on the $2.5 million dollar price tag because of the attraction’s rich history, and because it was kept in excellent condition after being retired.
In addition to being 15 stories tall, the Ferris wheel has 40 gondolas and can hold upwards of 240 riders at a time.
It’s new home will be located at the Track Family Fun Park site located across from Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, on Highway 76.
“It’s just going to be totally different [experience],” Wescott says, “and allow us to kind of start the new chapter of this wheel.”
City leaders are hopeful they can keep the momentum building in Branson: Friday’s announcements follows several others in the last six months.
“The wheel, Bigfoot [on the Strip], Fritz’s Adventure, the Mountain Adventure Resort,” listed Taney County Partnership executive director, Jonas Arjes.
“I always said, ‘development breeds development,’” he says. “We’ve had numerous calls of people that were interested in the past that are now saying, ‘hey what’s going on?’”
In addition to helping spur future development, new attractions, like the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel, are expected to help Branson reach new markets.
“I think it’s going to open the doors to a lot of marketing and public relations,” says Chamber and CVB Chair, William Mahoney.
“People from Chicago, who have maybe never even been here before,” he says, “and are interested in, ‘where is this Ferris wheel going?’”
Which is why Wescott says he will work to preserve the wheel’s history, while adding a few new touches, like LED lighting, to go along with the ride’s new home.
“Something that comes with a story,” Wescott says, “is worth even more than something brand new is, in certain cases.”
Wescott hasn’t named the Ferris wheel yet, but he plans to have it open to the public by the Summer of 2016.