A Guide To Navy Pier's 2019 Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest

Shannon Blum
December 13, 2019 - 10:06 am

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) – Navy Pier's favorite holiday, family tradition - the Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest - returns for another year.

For more than five weeks, visitors can stroll through an indoor winter wonderland as Navy Pier transforms its Festival Hall into a dazzling spectacle with 170,000 square feet of holiday-themed fun. Navy Pier's Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest runs through Sunday, Jan. 12 and guests can enjoy all the wonder the event has to offer from rides and attractions to cookie decorating and visits with the people of Winter Wondertown.

Upon arrival, go up the stairs to the Festival Hall and through the doors to be greeted by tons of winter decorations and a twinkling forest of nearly 500 trees decorated with 25,000 ornaments hung on glittering wire. Then be sure to check out the dozens of classic rides and attractions that fill the space, under shimmering white lights and above a wintery blue carpet, including the Xfinity Ice Skating Rink, Polar Ice Peaks Climbing Walls, Winter WonderWhirl, Kringle Carousel and more. And don't miss out on taking a ride around Winter WonderTown on the Arctic Express Train and decorating holiday cookies at the Aquafina Cookie Cottage. 

Ready to start a new family tradition or continue on an old one? Here’s everything you need to know about Navy Pier's Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest.

Navy Pier Winter WonderFest
Nick Ulivieri Photography

What is Winter WonderFest?

Navy Pier's Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest is described as a "delightful family tradition" featuring 170,000 square feet of attractions, including rides, giant slides, indoor ice skating, and holiday decor that is sure to get you into the holiday spirit! 

"Navy Pier's Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest is an indoor, winter wonderland," said Anna Schapiro, Navy Pier spokesperson. "We have dozens of rides and attractions all over, tons of holiday decorations, trees decortated, and Winter Wondertown - our holiday village."

When is Winter WonderFest?

Navy Pier’s Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest takes place from Friday, Dec. 6 through Sunday, Jan. 12. The indoor winter wonderland is open daily 10 a.m. Closing times vary. Winter WonderFest will be closed Christmas Day (Dec. 25); and on Thursday, Jan. 9 Navy Pier will host sensory friendly hours from 4 – 8 p.m., consisting of discounted tickets, limited lighting, reduced sound, quiet zones and more to accommodate the special needs community. More information on hours.

Where is Winter WonderFest?

Navy Pier’s Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest takes over Navy Pier’s Festival Hall. Navy Pier is located at 600 E. Grand Ave. and the Festival Hall is towards the back of the building.

How much does Winter WonderFest cost?

Tickets to Navy Pier’s Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest can be purchased online or at the on-site box office. Ticket options vary based on date, height/age, time of sale (advance or day of) and location of sale (online or on site). Tickets vary from $10-28.

In addition to access to Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest, every ticket purchase will include a complimentary pass to ride the iconic, 200-foot-tall Centennial Wheel – an $18 value. The attraction features enclosed and temperature-controlled gondolas, offering guests comfortable, enjoyable rides and unparalleled views year round. Centennial Wheel tickets provided with admission are valid from the time of purchase through March 21, 2020.

Navy Pier Winter WonderFest
Nick Ulivieri Photography

Rides, Activities, and Attractions:

  • Aerialists
  • Alpine Slide 
  • Arctic Express Train Ride 
  • Arctic Plunge
  • Aquafina Cookie Cottage
  • Candy Cane Lighthouse
  • Cliff Hanger 
  • Dasher’s Crashers Bumper Cars 
  • Hot Cocoa Cups
  • Ice Palace 
  • Ice Peaks Climbing Walls 
  • Jingle Jym Jr. 
  • Kringle Carousel 
  • Mount Reindeer
  • Polar Extreme 
  • Slippery Snowflake Slide 
  • Snowman Bouncer 
  • Winter Rules Mini Golf 
  • Wintertube
  • Winter Wondertown 
  • Wonder Whirll
  • Zero Gravity 
  • XFinity Ice Skating Rink

Photo Ops:

  • Country Lane
  • Holiday Howdy Horse 

What’s new?

New to Navy Pier's Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest this year, is the ride, The Wind Chill. 

"It is super exciting," Schapiro said. "It goes up to 53 feet in the air. I have been on it twice and it was really, really fun!"

Also new this year is the Winter Wonder Market. On the way to Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest, guests can stroll through Winter Wonder Market near the front entrance of the Pier, where Navy Pier’s Fifth Third Bank Family Pavilion will be transformed into an all-new holiday market featuring meet-and-greet opportunities with Santa and Mrs. Claus on select dates.

The Winter Wonder Market is a one-stop shop for all things holiday, where guests can find unique gifts and enjoy seasonal treats and food specials at onsite dining establishments. Winter Wonder Market will run through Christmas Eve (Tuesday, Dec. 24). More information.

Navy Pier Winter WonderFest
WBBM Newsradio/Shannon Blum

 

The Tradition. Why do people continue to come back?

"I think Chicago families really love it," Schapiro said. "It's at Navy Pier, an iconic Chicago destination, and then it is indoors, so you are able to stay warm, have fun, go ice skating, go on rides, have food, and just get into the holiday spirit all while being comfortable at this iconic destination."

Getting There:

Navy Pier is located between Illinois and Grand Avenue at 600 E. Grand Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60611.

Consider taking public transportation:

CTA: The CTA provides five buses that serve Navy Pier daily. These are #29 State, #65 Grand, #66 Chicago, #124 Navy Pier (from Union/Ogilvie Stations) and the #2 Hyde Park Express (during weekday rush hours only).

Metra: CTA bus #124 connects Navy Pier with Union/Ogilvie Stations and Millennium Station; CTA bus #29 connects Navy Pier with LaSalle Street Station and Millennium Station. Visit www.rtachicago.com to access the RTA trip planner to find your best way to Navy Pier.

Parking:

Parking at Navy Pier is easy and convenient with two on-site parking garages, West Garage and East Garage located at 600 E. Grand Avenue. The garages are connected to the Pier and can accommodate 1,500 vehicles. There is a flat rate parking fee seven days a week. Find more detailed information and current parking rates here.