Why I Hate The Ferris Wheel

My town has a street fair every fall. It’s pretty cool: a typical small suburban affair with a few rides, crab cake sandwiches, kettle corn, funnel cake, zeppoles, and more ways for a kid to spend your money than there are orange jackasses on Jersey Shore.

The first year we lived here, we all went to the street fair together. The kids had only been living with us for a couple of weeks. They didn’t have many friends yet; they didn’t have their stuff from their old house yet. #5 was a small four-year-old and I carried him most of the time. The first thing we did was get cotton candy and I remember being surprised how fast he became covered in blue stick. Luckily, one of the churches had their bathrooms open and we were able to hose him down before he became permanently stuck to a lamppost- or worse, the street. I remember standing in line for ride tickets behind a guy who was wearing a Scissorfight T-shirt. I asked him about it; turned out he was friends with the band. He was there with his kids too. I questioned the wisdom of each of us being involved with children.

This year #5 was the only one with me. The other kids made appearances as they met up with us for money or food and to hang out with their little brother. The two oldest girls were working booths, #1 as an employee and #2 for high school volleyball. I was still a walking wallet, but everyone sought out one-on-one time with #5.

#3 and #5 on something that spins too much for me
#2 and #5 on something else that I won't ride.
#5 blocking me from eating his funnel cake


The Ferris Wheel.

Originally built for the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago by George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr, variations of it have been tormenting amusement-seekers ever since. I don’t like the Ferris Wheel because the first time I ever went on one I was pretty young, maybe about six. I went with my sister and the cars on this particular Ferris Wheel were enclosed and capable of spinning all the way around. You could flip your car independently of (and simultaneously with) the Ferris Wheel spin. Two spins for the price of one.

Due to the inefficient nature of the Ferris Wheel, riders often get stuck at points around the spin as other riders are let off and on. My sister and I had the misfortune of being stuck at the top for an extended period of time while our car was upside down. Yes, both ways we could spin were stuck. We were two little girls by ourselves stuck upside down eight billion feet above sea level. That’s like, a vortex of stuck suck right there.

Sometimes you remember things and then you wonder if you’re really remembering it right or not. While #3 and #5 were waiting in line for and riding the Ferris Wheel, I called my sister to corroborate my memory.

While the kids were on this:

I was looking at this:

My foot, safely on the ground. Right side up.

My sister remembers it the same way. She doesn’t like Ferris Wheels either.

Perhaps this is a good time to lay my X-Files theory on you. The X-Files is hands down my all time favorite TV show. I own all the DVDs (purchased, obviously, before kids). My theory is that for any situation, any occurance, anything that crosses your mind, there’s an X-Files episode about it [I have the same theory regarding Jonathan Richman songs]. Sadly, I’m not enough of a hard-core geek to know all the actual titles of the X-Files episodes, but I can fill in the plots.

Anyway. The rides at the street fair remind me of the X-Files episode with the bad santa at the creepy holiday amusement park where Mulder was sure he would find his sister but instead they found lots and lots of dead children.

On second thought, perhaps this wasn’t a good time to lay my X-Files theory on you. Probably, I could have kept that to myself for at least a while longer. You were bound to find out at some point though.

You tell me, aren’t they kinda creepy?


Eh, maybe it’s just me.

What do you say- carnie rides: creepy or not creepy? Do you do the Ferris Wheel?


23 thoughts on “Why I Hate The Ferris Wheel

  1. Yeh, pretty creepy. But as a kid, it was darkly wonderful, especially at night. And the cotton candy! A spongey miracle you got nowhere else. I was okay with the Ferris Wheel, I guess. Maybe not so much if I’d have gotten stuck like you did. I thought those tea cups were stupid. But I loved those scary houses! They were usually so awful, it made me laugh. Even in adulthood, when near a pier at the shore, I had to go in for the scary house ride. Until I realized the jerkiness of the cars was giving me whiplash. No more scary houses.

    1. I loved the rides (except for the Ferris Wheel) as a kid. The creepiness didn’t set in until I was an adult. I don’t feel the creep at high dollar amusement parks. Must be a snob. Also cotton candy was only awesome as a kid, but boy, was it something!

  2. I don’t do things that spin, so usually the ferris wheel is the only thing I will ride. But now that I know it’s possible to get upside down, I may need to rethink that.

  3. Very creepy! I also get motion sickness just riding in the backseat of a car, so I tend to avoid most rides. But the ferris wheel? Ah! I was dragged onto one just last summer and silently prayed I’d make it out alive, while my kids were laughing and enjoying it. I loved your line, “a vortex of stuck suck right there”. If I had experienced what you did, I’d never even be able to look at a ferris wheel again.

  4. Amusement parks are totally creepy, especially during the day when they’re shut down or in the off-season. I have a sort of fantasy of going back to Ocean City, NJ and taking pictures of the rides in Wonderland Pier in the off-season. Black-and-white, to add to the creepiness. One year when we were there, my cousin and I got stuck on the tippy-top of the Ferris wheel, while a storm moved in from the Atlantic and lightning flashed out to sea. We sang the theme song to “Goonies.” (This would have been circa 1988.) But the Ferris wheel and the merry-go-round and the bumper cars are pretty much all I can ride. Everything else spins and makes me vom my funnel cake (powdered sugar… well-done, you.)

    1. Viewing a storm with lightning over the ocean from a Ferris Wheel while singing the Goonies theme song sounds excellent. For someone else. I would have been freaking out.

  5. Oooh, X-Files! That’s some guilty pleasure gold, right there. I think carnie rides are totally creepy, although in a good way. I’m not sure how I’d feel if I had had your experience, though. My brother was just reminding me how we almost died on a water slide at Dorney Park when we were kids. It’s a wonder we still leave the house. Love these pictures!

  6. There was this horrible story I once heard about a Ferris Wheel, which I’ve never forgotten. It seems this girl with very long hair somehow got her hair would around and caught in the greasy side thingie that attaches the chair to the wheel. Each rotation of the wheel pulled her hair tighter and tighter, and she was screaming at the top of her lungs. The ride operator thought she was having fun, but at the end of the ride, one side of her head was bleeding and bald. Sorry to be a buzzkill, but that story ruined me for any chance of liking Ferris Wheels that I may have had. Side note: I have short hair.

  7. Ahhhh….ferris wheels are the worst for me! No, seriously! I have a terrible fear of heights and had a full-blown panic attack the last time I rode one and got stuck at the top. Man, woman, nor beast do I fear. Ferris wheels? Horrible contraptions!

    1. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s about control issues for me. What do you think? I like roller coasters. Gets the adrenaline rushing and I’m just there for the ride. But there’s no rush with the Wheel. Only panic.

      1. I’m telling ya, it’s the height! I’d rather get on the back of a Harley with a drunken biker that can barely stand, then take my chances in the air on that contraption. True story! If I’m gonna die baby, I wanna do it close to the ground. Not in the water, not from the air. Good ol’ concrete.

  8. I just find ferris wheels boring. Love roller coasters! But I will not ride anything at a fair that travels. To me, nothing good can come of taking things down and setting them up again over and over again. I’m sure that reveals something about my personality – just don’t know what.

    1. I think it reveals a great deal of common sense. As a stagehand, I also really really want to put your phrase “nothing good can come of taking things down and setting them up again over and over again” on a crew t-shirt, because that’s brilliant. Heh!

  9. I…hate…the…ferris…wheel. I am terrified of any ride that leaves me suspended in the sky. I get a panic attack thinking about it!! But I love roller coasters…as long as they’re the kind that shoot you off fast, I can’t handle the slow ascent up the track. I have a weird fear of heights. I love being in airplanes…but I can’t ride a glass elevator past the second floor.

    1. That’s a very specific kind of height fear you have there. Surely there’s a name for that. Mostly I don’t like things that spin because they make me sick, but the Ferris Wheel is a special kind of scary for me.

  10. I can so relate to this! My hubby is deathly afraid of heights. Me, not so much. HOWEVER, I am deathly afraid of this particular ride ESPECIALLY in a carny-put-it-together setting. Needless to say, we just went through the “who’s gonna ride it” moment ourselves two weeks ago. I am a bit of an accidental step mom myself ( 3 of 4 are his) and I so I made him get on it with his daughter. He went kicking and screaming – and came back ghostlike. Normally I take the “big life rides” with the kids. Be it flu puke clean up, nazi bed time negotiations, or fair rides. But not this one. I’m with you on the rollercoaster – even the carny built ones – but not the towering wheel of death. There’s something about sitting at the tip top with the creeking and the swinging rusted out cage that keep me from giving up my tickets. Not to mention I am sure the minute I step on it will go rolling off its axis crushing people who were smart enough not to get on it.

    Love your blog, by the way!

  11. I used to love the Ferris Wheel – it was one of the few things I would ride. Then I got on one as an adult and I didn’t like it at all. Strange how our tastes change.

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