Construction underway for new sky-high Chicago tour at Navy Pier

Construction began in October for FlyOver Chicago, which will open in spring 2024, in the pier’s former IMAX theater.

SHARE Construction underway for new sky-high Chicago tour at Navy Pier
FlyOver, a multi-sensory ride and cinematic experience that is slated to open in Spring 2024 at Navy Pier, undergoes construction, Thursday, April 27, 2023.

Construction is underway for FlyOver Chicago at Navy Pier. The multisensory ride and cinematic experience will open next spring.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Soon the millions of annual visitors to Navy Pier will have a new attraction to try — FlyOver Chicago.

The multisensory cinematic experience will open next spring, providing an “immersive flyover journey” through Chicago’s neighborhoods, downtown and waterfront, said Lisa Adams, vice president of FlyOver Attractions.

Construction has been underway since October 2022 in the space that once housed Navy Pier’s IMAX theater. Like an IMAX movie, the FlyOver experience features a 65-foot movie screen. But, Adams said, the similarities end there.

The main difference is that FlyOver is not just a movie, Adams said. It’s a three-part experience that culminates in a flight simulation surrounded by a spherical screen. The flight portion will feature a documentary about Chicago, as well as moving seats, wind, mist, sounds and smells to create the feeling of flying outdoors.

The ride can seat up to 62 people, Adams said.

Vice President of FlyOver Attractions Lisa Adams speaks to Marilynn Gardner, Navy Pier president and CEO, during a media preview of FlyOver, a multi-sensory ride and cinematic experience that is slated to open in Spring 2024 at Navy Pier, Thursday, April 27, 2023. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Lisa Adams (left), vice president of FlyOver Attractions, and Navy Pier president and CEO Marilynn Gardner discuss the coming attraction at Navy Pier on Thursday. Gardner said she is “thrilled” FlyOver is coming to the pier.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

FlyOver has rides in four locations: Vancouver, Mall of America in Minnesota, Reykjavik in Iceland and Las Vegas. Adams said FlyOver plans to open an attraction in Toronto, but the company has not set an opening date.

Prices for a single adult ticket at existing locations range from around $20 at Mall of America to around $40 in Reykjavik. Marilynn Gardner, president and CEO of Navy Pier, said she does not know how much tickets will cost at Navy Pier.

Adams said FlyOver hopes to capture the “epic places and captivating stories” of Chicago. This is the first FlyOver location to focus on one city, instead of a country or region, she added.

FlyOver Chicago will show off the city’s “urban canyons,” Adams said, the same way the Las Vegas attraction takes riders through the Grand Canyon.

Gardner said she is “really excited” that Chicago will be the first city FlyOver devotes an entire attraction to. Focusing on the city of Chicago was important to her as they developed this attraction, she added.

“It’s really a unique experience and something that we think will be embraced by Chicagoans and millions of visitors,” Gardner said.

Workers construct FlyOver, a multi-sensory ride and cinematic experience that is slated to open in Spring 2024 at Navy Pier, Thursday, April 27, 2023.

The space that once housed the IMAX theater at Navy Pier will become FlyOver Chicago, a new attraction featuring a flight simulation. Construction began in October 2022 and the ride is set to open next spring.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

The pier is “always looking” to add new attractions, Gardner said, and she was “thrilled” when FlyOver proposed opening at Navy Pier. When the IMAX movie theater space opened up, “it was just obviously the perfect fit.”

Following the pandemic, Gardner said people are “rediscovering the pier,” which will continue to “evolve into the future.”

She added that as the “people’s pier” and a “cultural hub,” Navy Pier’s goal is to show off the best Chicago has to offer. Gardner said she believes this attraction will do just that.

The documentary shown during the flight simulation will highlight individual Chicagoans’ stories, as well as the sights of the city, Adams said. The movie will be filmed from June to October in neighborhoods around Chicago.

Adams said the documentary will showcase “community, resilience, grit” and “the personality of Chicago.”

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