February 2001 – present
Paradise Pier – You can see the Fun Wheel from anywhere in Paradise Pier, but the entrance can be tricky to find. The easiest path to follow is the one on the right hand side; head toward the Silly Symphony Swings, and keep going. You’ll see the sunken waiting area to the wheel on your left, before Toy Story Midway Mania.
When California Adventure first opened in 2001, the wheel was known as the “Sunshine Wheel” and towered over the boardwalk in the same location as it does today. But during the park’s major renovation and expansion, Mickey became the focal point of the wheel, and its name officially changed to Mickey’s Fun Wheel.
- Single Rider Line – no
- Fast Pass – no
- Height Requirement – none
- Duration – 9:00
Visitors can choose between two dramatically different ride experiences on the Fun Wheel. Adventurous visitors can brave the swinging cars, which slide on tracks as the wheel rotates, and rock when the wheel is still. Then there are the tamer cars, which provide a standard ferris wheel experience. Either way, Fun Wheel riders get a birds-eye view of Paradise Bay and much of California Adventure, whether in the sunshine or the park’s evening glow.
MY RATING: ★★★☆☆
I am more afraid of ferris wheels than any roller coaster (maybe it’s the suspension combined with major height?), so I may not be a fair judge of the Fun Wheel. However, I find myself somewhat frustrated when I do brave this ride. Since the wheel is so massive, it takes a while to load all of the cars, and riders spend a lot of time sitting still in the cars. That wouldn’t bother me if the wheel actually rotated a few times before offloading begins, but Mickey’s Fun Wheel only does one rotation before offloading. So for all the time you spend waiting in line and waiting for the wheel to finally move, the payoff seems disappointing. If the wheel spun two or three times – as opposed to the one – I would give this ride five stars.
In my experience, the Fun Wheel is the least predictable wait in Paradise Pier. The crowds seem to come in waves, so the lines can be quite long on relatively slow days, or short on very crowded days. With that in mind, my advice is to periodically check the wait time as you make your way through the rear of California Adventure (Paradise Pier, Cars Land, Grizzly Peak). Unfortunately, the wheel does not have fast pass, so if the line never dies down you’ll have to wait. If you find yourself in that position, visit the wheel after dark. California Adventure is absolutely beautiful at night, so the view is worth the wait.
Imagineers took inspiration from Coney Island’s 1927 Wonder Wheel.
Mickey’s Fun Wheel is 160 feet tall at its highest point.
All of the swinging cars come equipped with sick bags; those cars really whip you around!