|One of the many "world's largest" attractions featured in Great Adventure's Enchanted Forest theme park was the Giant Wheel which was designed to serve as an icon at the end of Dream Street drawing guests into the park. The Giant Wheel was designed to be visually stunning both by day and by night as well as offering stunning views of the forest below.|
Like many of the rides in the Enchanted Forest, the Giant Wheel was
designed for portability so setting it up was relatively simple for the
crews. The Schwarzkopf Ferris wheel was originally the centerpiece of
the Holland Tulip Festival in the Netherlands and was purchased by Great
Adventure and shipped to America.
Construction of the ride began with laying the ride's steel framework base on the ground. The base spanned between the four legs of the wheel, and at each end large steel frame boxes stabilized the wheel. When used as a portable ride these steel frame boxes were used as water tanks which provided weight to aid the stability of the ride. As part of the installation at Great Adventure, the water tanks were converted into planters and surrounded by concrete walls clad in stone.
With the base of the ride assembled, the legs of the wheel could be erected. Prior to raising, the two halves of the legs were bolted together. They were designed to be manageable sized pieces for easy transport and for quick and easy assembly. One leg was placed on the front side of the wheel and then the second.
|With the two legs placed, a crane pulled them up until the two halves of the central platform came together. Once the two halves met, they were bolted together, creating a solid frame to support the wheel.|
|With the two legs bolted together at the top, the bolts at the base of the legs were placed. Lining up the bolts and the holes was one of the trickiest parts of the assembly as well as the most dangerous.|
|Once the frame was up on the front of the Giant Wheel the two back legs were assembled in the same manner in preparation for the hub.|
Installing the hub of the wheel was another big challenge due to the
weight of the piece as well as aligning the two sets of legs. The hub
serves many purposes including unifying the support structure,
supporting the spokes of the wheel and providing the electric power to
the ride's lighting.
Once the hub was placed, the spokes were added one by one along with the flange. The delicate steel framework was designed to be light but strong and the pieces could be assembled quickly and easily like a giant Erector Set. As each section was added the wheel was rotated and the next section was added to the bottom.
|Once all the sections of the wheel were assembled, the four drive wheels were installed on the legs. The ride operator booth was placed along with the electrical control room below it. With the motors in place and wired, the decorative lighting was placed on the framework. A scaffold was setup allowing workers easy access as they attached the floral lighting strips. Beneath the wheel the steps for loading and unloading the cars were installed.|
As opening day approached, the thirty six cars were finally attached to
the wheel in preparation for the arrival of guests.