**** Recommended **** If you have kids, you definitely need a family outing to the Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier. Instead of sporting events, trade shows or expose, Festival Hall (170,000 sq. ft.) has been transformed into Winter WonderFest, kind of a summer-time carnival dropped into the North Pole. Everywhere you look, you’ll see sparkly holiday decorations and activities for all ages – everything from a kiddie train to teen-approved rides. There are photo opportunities galore and a full-sized ice rink.
For one reason or another, I’ve never gone to Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier, so when I had an opportunity – and the time – to go recently, I grabbed it. I just wish I’d had a couple of my grandchildren with me, they would have loved it. After all, where else can you ride a Tilt-a-Whirl, indoors, in the winter?
The only drawback from my perspective – the long walk out to the AON Ballroom. Since the east end of Navy Pier is under construction, the indoor walks are closed off, which means walking through the garage. The route is clearly marked and safely barricaded from cars, but it’s still the garage so it’s chilly. A warning: there is a really narrow door with a really narrow ramp (just wide enough for 2 people to pass) in the last garage. This is a bottleneck waiting to happen! If you’re pushing a double stroller, it could be a problem.
Once you reach Festival Hall (and get your wrist band), you’re free to roam. There are things to see and do wherever you look. There are slides and bouncy houses, a frosty mini-golf set up where some players were using shovels instead of putters. The smaller set will love touring Winter WonderTown on the Arctic Express Train, decorating cookies in the Cookie Cottage or visiting with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Food vendors and photo booths/opportunities are interspersed with the activities. Teens and tweens can ride the rides, soar across the 40-foot Cliff Hanger or scale the Polar Ice Peaks Climbing Walls. Further out, is the full-sized indoor ice rink.
On Tuesdays and Sundays, there’ll be Visions of Sugar Plums overhead, as the aerialists of Aerial Ataraxia perform. (Tuesdays at 2:00, 3:00 & 4:00 pm; Sundays at 3:00, 4:00 & 5:00 pm).
The Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier is open every day until January 6th. Parking is available in both the East and West Garages at Navy Pier. Standard parking rate is $30.
• Individual tickets, valid on specific date of buyer’s choice, include one complimentary ride on the Centennial Wheel, valid any day through March 31, 2019.
o General Admission: From $20*
o Children under 42”: From $10*
o Seniors 65+: From $10*
o Children under 36”: Free at gate*
• Family 6-Pack
o 6 tickets to Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest (suitable for all heights/ages) on the specific date of your choice
o 6 Centennial Wheel tickets, valid any day through March 31, 2019
o Total for 6 Guests: $139*
• Groups of 20 or more can save on Group Admission Passes* Contact the Group Sales Department at (312) 595-5331 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Height and other restrictions may apply. Operating hours vary by day. Please see the event calendar for dates and hours of operation.
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