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Wednesday, January 11, 2017


The Coca Cola London Eye (aka The Millennium Wheel is located on the South Bank of River Thames.                                                                Photo: Phyllis Shess

Editor’s note: The following is the seventh in a yearlong monthly series on the world’s mega-sized Ferris wheels.

If you’re reading this at my favorite London hotel, The Mandeville, which is near Oxford Street and steps from Selfridge’s and today is the day you set aside to ride the fabulous London Eye, then forgive the bad news.  The Coca-Cola London Eye is closed today and tomorrow and for the next two weeks to accommodate annual sprucing up.

But, carry on if you’re still in the planning stages to visit to Great Britain, as it will reopen mid-month.  No visit to London can be considered complete without a spin on this now iconic wheel.

Located on the south bank of River Thames (across from Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament), the London Eye (now sponsored by Coca Cola) is a 443-foot tall metaphor to the turning of time.  The gradual rotation in one of the 32 high-tech glass capsules takes approximately 30 minutes and gives you an ever-changing perspective of London.

On a clear day, the spin will accomplish two things:  (1.) Marvel that it is indeed a clear day and (2.) the 360-degree view is estimated to be 25 miles.  Inside each capsule has an interactive guide system available in several languages.

Completed in time for its grand opening as the Millennium Wheel in March 2000 and with almost 4 million visitors per annum, it has become the leading tourist attraction in London. 

Top of the London Eye on a rainy day
At one time, it was billed as the world’s tallest Ferris wheel until recent taller spinners have been built. It does, however, remain as the world’s tallest “cantilevered” observation wheel.  That means an A-frame on one side supports the entire structure.
Other mega wheels have two supports holding up the axis.  It remains the tallest in Europe and its public viewing height is only surpassed by London’s 72-story “Shard” skyscraper.

Marks Barfield Architects is a London-based architectural firm founded by husband and wife David Marks and Julia Barfield, who designed the London Eye.  Other works by Marks Barfield include, the treetop walkway in Kew Gardens and the recently dedicated British Airways’ i360 observation tower on the English Channel in Brighton, England.

Like time immemorial, the Eye is in constant rotation (except when time out is called for its yearly maintenance program).  Passengers must “Mind the Rotation” to enter each of the 25 person capacity capsules.

Other Ferris Wheel postings on
July, 20, 2016—Staten Island, New York
August 17, 2016—Las Vegas
September 21, 2016—Japan
October 19, 2016—Nanchang, China
November 9, 2016—Dubai
December 14, 2016—Melbourne
January 11, 2017—London Eye

February—Chicago’s Centennial Wheel
March--Singapore Flyer
April—Suzhou, Jiangsu, China

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