“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta
Remember your first experience on a Ferris wheel? They have been creating memories for all ages around the world and remain popular for several reasons. Some passengers ride for the unparalleled views and the thrill of being high above, while others prefer the wind in their face while going around and around on a wheel.
In 2014, I wrote an editorial in Destinations Travel Magazine titled Worlds Best Ferris Wheels with Scenic Views. The London Eye was featured in my article, but at that time I had only researched the observation wheel. I am happy to say, 7 months later I had the opportunity to ride the London Eye myself!!
How did it all begin? The Ferris wheel is named after George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr., who designed the first wheel for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago standing at 264 feet tall. The Ferris wheel is usually the first object that catches your eye when approaching a carnival, fairgrounds or amusement park due to its height.
Ferris wheels may be referred to as observation wheels, big wheels or giant wheels, which are basically one in the same. The term “observation wheel” refers to the phenomenal, panoramic views which can be seen while riding the wheel. The Ferris wheel turns at a fairly slow speed to allow passengers the ability to get on and off at the bottom, take in the view and snap pictures while riding. The modern observation wheels tend to be much larger and more sophisticated than Ferris wheels. Ferris wheels usually include the classic, two passenger, open air seating while most observation wheels offer enclosed, air conditioned seating for groups called capsules or pods. The picture below provides a sneak peak inside the capsule with hardly anyone in it- besides my mom! December is a great time to tour Europe as most people are no longer on holiday. We pretty much had the capsule to ourselves!
Inside the capsule
The London Eye stands at 443 feet tall and is located in the heart of London on the South Bank of the River Thames. Since the opening in 2000, the wheel has had several names to include British Airways London Eye, Merlin Entertainments London Eye and the Energy London Eye. Also known as the Millennium Wheel, it is the tallest in all of Europe attracting 3.5 million people annually. Take a 30 minute ride with panoramic views of the London skyline highlighting the Palace of Westminster, Charing Cross railway station centre, Waterloo railway station and Big Ben. On a clear day, you can see as far as the Windsor Castle. The London Eye has 32 capsules which hold 25 passengers each. Interested in reserving a private capsule? The London Eye offers an array of options, choose from the Champagne Tasting Capsule, Hotel Chocolat Capsule, Cupid’s Capsule, Wine Tasting Capsule, Children’s Birthday Party Capsule or create your own!
Riding the wheel is all about a view from the top! The anticipation of riding slowly, higher and higher until you reach the very top to take in the view is worth the wait in line. The picture below is from the top of the observation wheel on a cold, December day in London. Bliss
View from above
Ferris wheels are a great way to view cities from high above. They are fun for all ages and just keep getting bigger and better. On Labor Day Weekend 2016 The New York Wheel on Staten Island is expected to open at a height of 630 feet! In 2013, Dubai announced plans to construct The Dubai Eye, inspired by the London Eye, expected to reach 689 feet on the new Bluewaters Island.
Get ready, we’re going up!