New and Old Rides Debut at the Columbus Zoo for Summer 2023
This Saturday marked the beginning of the season for two noteworthy rides at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium – the new Adventure Sky Wheel and the return of the classic Dinosaur Island boat ride.
Columbus Zoo’s New Ferris Wheel
For this year only, adventure seekers at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium will soon have a unique bird’s eye view of the park. At 110 feet tall, the Columbus Zoo’s new Ferris Wheel addition—Adventure Sky Wheel—opened on Saturday, May 27, 2023. Featuring 24 gondolas, a rotation velocity of 2.6 revolutions per minute, a wheel diameter of 96 feet, and multicolored LED lights that will be visible during evening events, Adventure Sky Wheel will offer the first opportunity for guests to ride a Ferris wheel near the Zoo since the former waterpark, Wyandot Lake, was purchased in 2006. It is also one of only three giant Ferris wheels in Ohio.
Lamberink B.V. manufactured this Ferris wheel in the Netherlands, and it was brought to the Zoo by the Kissel Entertainment Company of Okeana, Ohio. Guests will find Adventure Sky Wheel in the Zoo’s Adventure Cove region next to the Tidal Twist roller coaster, where it will be available for rides through the last day of the Boo at the Zoo on October 29.
“Each year, we look for new ways to engage our guests to help ensure that every experience is exciting, memorable and meaningful. Adventure Sky Wheel provides a fun opportunity to help create a family experience that brings people together while offering an incredible view of our Zoo and animal habitats. One of the best parts of all is that revenue from the rides and attractions helps to support the Zoo’s operating budget, which also benefits the Zoo’s animal care and conservation efforts as we carry out of our mission of empowering people and saving wildlife,” said Anthony Sabo, Vice President of Zoombezi Bay & Guest Services.
“Our company is thrilled to book this spectacular ride at the Columbus Zoo,” said R.A. Kissel, president of Kissel Entertainment. “When we bought the Lamberink 33M Ferris Wheel, our goal was to locate it in a popular family attraction. The Columbus Zoo provides a superior location for the Ferris wheel and Zoo management shares our values on ride safety, quality, and maintenance.”
Each ride on Adventure Sky Wheel is $5 for non-members and $4 for Columbus Zoo members. Rides are free for Columbus Zoo Gold members and are included in the price of a ZooMore ride wristband. These wristbands also include other rides and attractions such as Tidal Twist, the Sea Dragon roller coaster, Grand Carousel, North America Train, 4-D Theater, and more. The minimum height requirements for Adventure Sky Wheel are 36 inches accompanied by supervising companions, and 42 inches without a supervising companion. Each gondola holds a maximum of six riders, and no single riders are permitted. Bags are also not permitted on the ride.
Return of Dinosaur Island
Guest-favorite Dinosaur Island is returning to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium on Memorial Day weekend starting Saturday, May 27, 2023, and will run through the end of October. Guests can expect returning favorites, including the Triceratops and Stegosaurus among many other new dinosaurs. This prehistoric adventure transports guests 251 million years back in time to the start of the Paleozoic Era, when the Rhynchosaurs and Cynodonts first appeared. Guests will be able to experience this expedition that features a walking path and boat ride in the Zoo’s Australia and the Islands region.
During this experience, guests will discover over 20 animatronic dinosaurs. Made of steel with urethane waterproof skin, the dinosaurs have eyes that shift and blink, tails that move, bodies that breathe, and electronic “brains” that activate and control their movements and sounds. The dinosaurs were acquired from Billings Productions in Allen, Texas. As the leading provider of animatronic dinosaurs for zoos, museums and theme parks in North America, they specialize in producing large, life-size animatronic dinosaurs that can withstand outdoor weather for traveling or permanent exhibits. The largest dinosaur featured is the Brachiosaurus, standing 30 feet tall and 65 feet long.
New Dinosaurs for 2023:
Acrocanthosaurus – Large theropod from the early Cretaceous period. Its name means high-spined lizard and refers to the high spines on many of its vertebrae.
Amargasaurus – Sauropod dinosaur from the early Cretaceous epoch. Known for two parallel rows of tall spines that ran down its neck and back. The spines might have been used for display, combat, or defense.
Deltadromeus – Theropod from the mid-Cretaceous period found in Northern Africa. The name Deltadromeus means “agile runner.”
Diabloceratops – Ceratopsian dinosaur that lived during the Cretaceous period. The Diabloceratops is known for its long, curved spikes that rise up from its frill. The name Diabloceratops means “devil-horned face.”
Edmontonia – Lived during the late Cretaceous period and named after the Edmonton Formation in Canada where it was first found.
Troodon – Relatively small, bird-like dinosaur from the late Cretaceous period. The name Troodon is Ancient Greek for “wounding tooth.”
Brachiosaurus – Lived in the late Jurassic period (145 million years ago). One of the tallest dinosaurs that ever lived!
Stegosaurus – Lived in the late Jurassic period (155 to 145 million years ago). Spikes on their tails were used for self-defense.
Tyrannosaurus rex – Lived in the late Cretaceous period (approximately 65 million years ago). Name means “tyrant lizard king.”
Triceratops – Lived in the late Cretaceous period (approximately 68 million years ago). Name means “three-horned face”
A special admission ticket is required for entrance and is not included with Zoo admission. Admission to Dinosaur Island is $3 for general admission, $2 for Columbus Zoo members, and free for Columbus Zoo Gold members, as well as included in the price of a ZooMore Wristband.
Dinosaur Island POV 2023
My family has made it a tradition to ride the boat every year. Below is this year’s version. It’s never exactly the same each year. In fact, you can see for yourself as I’ve embedded all the videos of the last six versions of Dinosaur Island.
Dinosaur Island 2022
Dinosaur Island 2021
After a year hiatus due to the global pandemic, Dinosaur Island returned to the Columbus Zoo.
2020 – none due to pandemic
Dinosaur Island 2019
This might be my favorite iteration of the attraction. What’s yours?
Dinosaur Island 2018
Dinosaur Island 2017
After two years of pirates, the dinosaurs made their way back to the zoo. Do you prefer pirates or dinosaurs?
Pirate Island 2016
Pirates returned to the zoo for the second year of their two year run. I wonder if we’ll ever see them again? I feel like some of the props were used for the Zombiezi Bay haunted attraction.
Pirate Island 2015
I believe the first dinosaur overlay of the boat ride was in 2013, but I don’t have any video from 2013 or 2014. Pirates replaced the dinosaurs for the 2015 season.
For additional updates about the Columbus Zoo, rides and attractions, events, and more, be sure to follow the Zoo’s social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, and visit us at ColumbusZoo.org.