The London Eye and Giant Ferris Wheels of the World

The Singapore Flyer, a giant Ferris wheel in Singapore
The Singapore Flyer, a giant Ferris wheel in Singapore

The giant London Eye Ferris Wheel became an instantly recognisable icon of the London skyline when it opened in March 2000.  After the success of the London Eye over 20 other giant Ferris wheel projects have been initiated around the world, some which have been successful and many which never got further than a concept.

Giant Ferris wheels or giant observation wheels are significantly slower than conventional Ferris wheels.  Typically you will only travel through a single rotation of the wheel which is in constant slow motion. Giant Ferris wheels usually do not stop to allow passengers to disembark and embark.  They move so slowly that passenger changeovers can occur while the wheel is in motion.  The passenger capsules are spacious and you are usually able to walk around to enjoy the panoramic views as you slowly travel around the giant wheel circumference.

1.   Currently Operating Giant Ferris Wheels

The London Eye in London, United Kingdom

The London Eye, a giant Ferris wheel located in London, UK
The London Eye, a giant Ferris wheel located in London, UK

The London Eye is THE iconic giant Ferris wheel as a result of being the first giant observation wheel ever constructed in the world.  The London Eye’s prominent location in central London and the fact that it attracts over 3.5 million visitors every year makes it a star in the world of giant Ferris wheels.

The London Eye provides spectacular views across London in all directions.  The London Eye is currently the fourth highest Ferris wheel in the world with the peak at 135m (443 ft) and a diameter of 120m (394 ft).

The standard ride on the London Eye takes 30 minutes to complete one full rotation.  There are options to book a private capsule or to add drinks and chocolate packages to your ride.

The Singapore Flyer in Singapore

The Singapore Flyer opened in March 2008 and is currently the second highest Ferris wheel (thanks to the High Roller in Las Vegas taking the crown!) in the world with a peak of 165m (541 ft) and a diameter of 150m (492 ft).  The Singapore Flyer provides fantastic views across Singapore including the harbour.

The standard ride on the Singapore Flyer takes 30 minutes to complete one full rotation.  There are options to book a private capsule or to add dining or drinks packages to your ride.

The Singapore Flyer, a giant Ferris wheel in Singapore
The Singapore Flyer, a giant Ferris wheel in Singapore

The Star of Nanchang in Nanchang, Jiangxi Province, China

The Star of Nanchang opened in May 2006 and was briefly the highest Ferris wheel in the world with a peak of 160m (525 ft) and a diameter of 150m (492 ft), before being overtaken by the Singapore Flyer in 2008 and the High Roller in Las Vegas in 2014 so it is now the third highest giant observation wheel in the world.  Nanchang is located approximately half way between Shanghai and Hong Kong

The Star of Nanchang provides views across Nanchang where a lot of construction is underway.  The standard ride on the Star of Nanchang takes 30 minutes to complete one full rotation.

The High Roller Observation Wheel in Las Vegas, USA

The High Roller Observation Wheel (167m, 550 ft) opened on schedule on 31 March 2014 in Las Vegas.  The High Roller Observation Wheel is part of a larger entertainment complex.  The High Roller Observation Wheel is now the highest observation wheel in the world, perhaps only temporarily if other projects such as the New York Wheel and Dubai Eye become reality.

The Southern Star Observation Wheel in Melbourne, Australia

The Melbourne Star Observation Wheel in Melbourne reopened on 12 March 2014 and is now fully operational after a challenging rebuild.

The Southern Star initially opened in January 2009 and operated for 40 days before being closed after a significant technical issue was identified.  It has taken almost five years to fully deconstruct and rebuild the wheel before being reopened in 2014.

2.   Currently Active Giant Ferris Wheel Projects

The High Roller Observation Wheel in Las Vegas, USA (under construction)
The High Roller Observation Wheel in Las Vegas, USA (under construction)

The following projects are currently either actively being constructed or are in the proposal development phase.

The New York Wheel in New York, USA

The New York Wheel (192m, 625 ft) is proposed to be constructed on Staten Island from early 2014 and is planned to open in 2015.  The New York Wheel could become the highest observation wheel in the world.

1 Nov 13 Update:  The New York Wheel project was approved by New York City at a cost of $US320M.  Work is expected to commence in early 2014 with the opening in 2016.

The Dubai Eye in Dubai

The Dubai Eye in Dubai (210m, 689ft) is proposed to commence construction in late 2013.  The Dubai Eye will be part of the new Bluewaters Resort.  The Dubai Eye will become the highest observation wheel in the world if successfully constructed.

After a flurry of media activity in Feb 13 this project has gone strangely silent so perhaps it will need to be shifted to ‘Cancelled’ or ‘Indefinitely Postponed’ list below in the not too distant future.

3.   At Risk Giant Ferris Wheel Projects

There is one giant observation wheels projects which have commenced construction but are at risk of never coming to fruition.

The Skyvue Las Vegas Super Wheel in Las Vegas, USA

The Skyvue Las Vegas Super Wheel (145m, 476ft) commenced construction in May 2011 and was originally intended to open by the end of 2012.  Since then the project was progressively descoped to carry less passengers and construction finally ceased in late 2012.  In Feb 13 a news report provides a statement from the Skyvue CEO Howard Bullock advising that construction should resume in May/Jun 2013.  In March 2014 the only sign of activity is the progressive removal of the scaffolding around the lonely looking foundation.  We will see what happens…

4.   Cancelled or Infinitely Postponed Giant Ferris Wheel Projects

There have previously been 14 other giant Ferris wheel projects which have been either cancelled or infinitely postponed

  • The Great Beijing Wheel
  • The Great Berlin Wheel
  • The Great Orlando Wheel
  • The Eye of Malaysia
  • The Moscow View
  • The Baghdad Eye
  • The Great Dubai Wheel
  • The Las Vegas Voyager
  • The Bangkok Eye
  • The Jeddah Eye
  • The Wheel of Manchester
  • The Kolkata Eye
  • The Shanghai Star
  • Rus-3000

As you can see there are more failures than successes in the giant Ferris wheel business.  Having been on the London Eye myself I can confirm that going for a ride on a giant Ferris wheel is a great activity where you have the opportunity.

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Have you experienced the giant Ferris wheels of the world?  Please share your experience in the comments below.

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4 Comments

  • Wow, I didn’t realise there were that many “Eyes”, Ferris wheels in the world.. particularly ones that may never be completed.

    They certainly are a great attraction though, especially in big cities.

    • Andy, thanks for your comment. Once I began researching I was also surprised to see how many giant ferris wheels actually exist. But I also found it fascinating to see how many potential projects did not come to fruition…

      • Yes, it is a shame really as these types of structures not only attract tourism, they help generate money so in time they would make their investment back.

        You never know.. some may get finished at some point. It’s like that giant water park that was half built and then just abandoned for years. Google it.

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