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The Giant Wheel at Maple Leaf Village Amusement Park

The Wheel

The Giant Wheel was opened at Maple Leaf Village in 1979. Built by J. Bakker Denies of Apeldoorn Holland, it was the tallest Ferris Wheel in the Western Hemisphere, up until its demise in 1992/93. When the MLVP Wheel was removed, the next tallest was at Darien Lake Park in New York State. The Wheel stood 53 meters high, and gave a great veiw of the Falls, and the City. Passengers rode in 40, 8 passenger open gondolas. One ride was 5 times around, and took approx. 12 minutes, including loading and unloading.

During the early years of the Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights, the Giant Wheel was made to resemble a giant Christmas Wreath.
(Niagara Falls Ontario Library)

Similar to the Giant Wheel ticket below, this postcard was also used as a ticket, but is missing the ticket part. The Giant Wheel, all lit up, is the background for this postcard view of the park. The Lighthouse Slip slide is visible in the foreground, and the Fascination game building is at the left..
(APHAN Collection)

One of the ticket/postcards for the Giant Wheel.
(Collection of Ken Jones Jr.)

The Giant Wheel, as seen from the Kodak Tower.
(Niagara Falls Ontario Library)

The Giant Wheel, taken from Clifton Hill. The old archway entrance to the park is visible at the base of the wheel. Compare that to the archway on the main page of this site.
(Niagara Falls Ontario Library)

The ride was staffed by 2 people in the off season, one operator, and one attendant (although both traded off the operators position). At peak times, there were 3-5 workers one usually handling tickets, at least one person on each side for loading/unloading, and an operator. When the wheel first opened, the gondolas were painted different colors (blue, red, green and yellow). In later years, the colors were traded for straight red. The wheel had a giant red maple leaf in the center as well. The circumference of the wheel had clear light bulbs, which were traded for red and green in the wintertime during the Festival of Lights. The wheel itself was supported by 8 tubular steel legs.


The Giant Wheel, taken from the loading deck, looking up towards the center of the wheel.
(Photo by David Torbett)


The control panel for the Giant Wheel. The joystick in the center controlled the forward & reverse movement of the Wheel. The switches at the bottom left were for the pumps & motors, while the majority of the knobs at the right were for nothing, but most ride operators used them to keep track of how many times the wheel went around (on a per ride basis).
(Photo by David Torbett)

The Giant Wheel, being disassembled, and nearing the end of its Canadian life.
(Photo by David Torbett)


The only photo I ever got of a train passing behind the Giant Wheel was after the park closed, and the wheel was being removed. Not only is the wheel now gone, but the tracks are as well.
(Photo by Ken Jones Jr.)

The following photos show the final demise of the Maple Leaf Village Giant Wheel.

All the gondolas have been removed, leaving the wheel looking like just a steel skeleton. This shot was taken from the parking lot, which allowed for a good clear photo.
(Photo by Ken Jones Jr.)

The cranes are in position, where the deck used to be. Thier job, is to old the wheel, and move it along to the next work location. In this photo, the wheel is still in one piece.
(Photo by Ken Jones Jr.)

The first bite has been taken out of the wheel. Piece by piece, the wheel starts to come down.
(Photo by Ken Jones Jr.)

More than 1/4 of the wheel is gone. It is now being held in place by come alongs and cranes.
(Photo by Ken Jones Jr.)

The Giant Wheel, as seen from Clifton hill, overtop of the Burger King. The Wheel is half gone by this point. Also visible at the left side is the Houdini Museum, which burned down a few years later and is now home to the Ripleys Moving Theatre attraction.
(Photo by Ken Jones Jr.)

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