What’s red, white, blue and green? It’s the 20-story Texas Star Ferris wheel, a fixture here for 30 years. At 212-ft, 6-inches, it’s the tallest wheel in Texas.
The State Fair and Dallas icon converted its old 16,000 incandescent turbo lites to a light-emitting diode (LED) system, just in time for opening day of the 2008 Fair. Not only are the LED lights energy-efficient (drawing less than a tenth of previous power consumption), the bulbs shed a different kind of light and colors are “truer.” The saturation of today’s red lights make the old ones look orange in comparison. And, they last longer – a lot longer. The life span of the old bulbs was 2,500 to 5,000 hours; the new white lights are good for 50,000 hours, while the colored LEDs should last 100,000 hours. Regardless of the technology, the wheel still packs a punch with its name written in lights, its Texas flag “hubcap” and its dizzying computer-controlled light shows.
Introduced in 1985, the Texas Star holds 264 riders in 44 multi-color gondolas enclosed with stainless steel tubing. Riders are provided a panoramic view for miles around and, on a clear day, occupants boast of seeing the downtown skyline of Fort Worth, 45 miles away.
The big wheel has impressive stats:
- Its foundation required almost 600 yards of concrete and 35 tons of reinforcing steel.
- Pieces of the ride arrived by sea from Italy and were brought in twenty, 40-foot truckloads for assembly in Dallas.
- Cost of construction in 1985 dollars was $2.2 million.
- Daily operation requires 18 employees.
- The Texas Star is the most popular ride at the State Fair of Texas.