At 135 meters (or about 443 feet), the London Eye was the tallest Ferris wheel in the world when it opened in 2000. Since then, a few others claimed that title, but the attraction’s website still bills itself as the “world’s largest cantilevered observation wheel”, so there’s that. It’s also currently sponsored by Coca-Cola, because everything needs a name-brand sponsor these days.
You could save time and money buying your ticket on their website. A standard adult ticket costs £23 (~$35.45 USD) on the day of, but only £19.35 (~$29.83 USD) if you purchase online. That’s still not exactly cheap, but it’s cheaper. All tickets include entry into a 4D cinema experience, which I barely even remember watching. I think you followed a bird or something? And then it snowed? Anyway, on to the actual attraction.
There are 32 capsules and it takes about 30 minutes to complete a full rotation. Due to superstition, they are numbered 1 to 33, skipping the number 13. When I visited, each capsule was decorated for the 2015 Rugby World Cup hosted by England. I ended up in a capsule that highlighted South Africa, one of the four teams that are still currently competing in the tournament. Also, I just learned that this is the first Rugby World Cup in which no team from the northern hemisphere made it past the quarter finals. The more you know~!
The biggest draw is exactly what it should be: you get spectacular views of London from such high up. It was a nice day with blue skies when I rode the London Eye. Each capsule carries up to 25 people and it didn’t feel incredibly crowded, though there were times it was a little difficult to find a new space to look out. With some patience, people usually move around allowing you to take your turn at the window.
I do get some slight vertigo when I’m looking down from such great heights (cue The Postal Service) and I was starting to feel a little nauseated, but it was manageable, even though I also had images of the capsule just falling off and sinking down into the Thames below.
When I got out, I decided to just sit on a bench nearby and watch an oboe player perform while I ate my first Kinder egg ever. Kinder eggs are banned in the US because you’re not allowed to hide objects in food since it’s a choking hazard, though it doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem anywhere else. I ended up getting a little car inside.
It’s a little interesting to think that the London Eye is still relatively new (fifteen years is relatively new when the things around you have been around for centuries), but it has become one of the major icons of London already. I’m curious to see what its status will be like decades from now or even what other attractions may eclipse it in the future. How do certain places earn their significance and how long can they retain it? Hmm.