London Eye - Information, History, Experience & More
What is the London Eye?
Located on the South Bank of the River Thames in London, the London Eye, is a cantilever observation in the UK. It can carry up to 800 people at a time over a complete rotation of 30 minutes. From its apex at 443 ft, you can see up to 25 miles of London’s glorious skyline. The London Eye, initially called The Millenium Wheel was inaugurated on 31 December 1999. Today, it welcomes over 3.75M visitors annually, and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in London.
Why was the London Eye built?
- The London Eye, formally known as the Millennium Wheel, was built between 1998 to 1999.
- The idea was chosen from a host of entries into a competition held in 1993 to suggest a new landmark to signify the new millennium.
- The London Eye was inaugurated on 31st December, 1999 by then PM, Tony Blair. Later on 9th March 2000, the observation wheel opened to the general public.
London Eye History In 1 Minute
The Great Wheel
- A predecessor of the London Eye was a similar structure known as the Great Wheel.
- This was built for the Empire of India exhibition and opened in 1895. The Great Wheel was 308 feet tall.
- Over the next 12 years, the Great Wheel carried around 2.5 million passengers, before being demolished in 1907.
Formation of the London Eye
- The London Eye was built by a husband-wife duo - Julia Barfield and David Marks - who ran the Marks Barfield Architects.
- In 1993, the concept of this giant Ferris Wheel originated as a submission to a contest by The Sunday Times and Great Britain’s Architecture Foundation, to mark the beginning of the new millennium. Though the competition was redundant with no winners declared, the couple decided to construct their masterpiece with the bulk of the funding that came in from British Airways.
- In 1998 the construction of the wheel began with an aim to launch the wheel on New Years’ Eve of 1999. Separate parts were built and transported from around the UK and Europe to the site where they were assembled. 17,000 professionals worked hard to turn this dream into a reality and as planned, the Millennium Wheel was inaugurated in December 1999.
- The wheel was designed to constitute 32 ovoid capsules representative of the 32 boroughs of London.
London Eye Criticism and Recognition
- Though the London Eye received criticism during its early days for the site that it stood on, it still continues to be amongst the top attractions worldwide.
- Believe it or not, at first, the plan was to keep the London Eye for a period of 5 years. However, an application to grant the structure permanent status was approved in July 2002. Since then, the London Eye has gone through a number of changes of hands in terms of ownership, while maintaining its operation uninterrupted.
- When first opened, the London Eye was the tallest Ferris wheel in the world. Today, it still remains Europe's tallest Ferris wheel. It was the highest viewing point in London until the 804-feet observation deck on the 72nd floor of The Shard opened in 2013.
Inside the London Eye
Plan your visit to the London Eye in advance to make the most of your experience.
London Skyline View
From a height of 135 meters, the entire city gets a new perspective, a rather gorgeous one. Hop on one of the 32 capsules and get a chance to see the city’s skyline and other distinguished landmarks from a bird’s point of view. Spot the Thames River, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Tower Bridge and lots more for an unforgettable experience.
You can opt for the standard admission tickets to enjoy the breathtaking views of the city. Alternatively, choose from Champagne Experience, Private Experience or Pub Pod Experience to take your 360-degree view to a whole new level. Be it enjoying complimentary Pommery Brut Royal Champagne, hosting events for your loved ones in a private capsule or gaining an ultimate pub experience - The London Eye has got it all.
If you’re a budding photographer, no better place for you to play with the shutters and get the perfect click. With the slow movement of the wheel, you’ll have plenty of time to click gorgeous pictures of the London skyline. Witness as far as up to 40 kilometres on a clear day to witness some of the eye-catching buildings including, St. Paul's Cathedral, Thames Rives, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, The Shard and more.
Adults and kids, both love Ferris Wheel rides alike. All the more when the Ferris Wheel is set right in the middle of all the city’s action. Overlooking the River Thames and its many scurrying boats, iconic landmarks everywhere you look and the London skyline panning for over 25 miles - there’s plenty to keep your eyes and mind entertained through the 30 minutes of a London Eye ride.
London Eye Capsule
The London Eye has a total of 32 capsules, one to represent each of London’s 32 boroughs. The temperature-controlled ovoidal capsule can hold up to 25 people in each pod. The wheel rotates at 26 cm per second covering one revolution in 30 minutes. The speed of the wheel is slow enough for passengers to walk on and off the moving capsule at ground level. It is, however, stopped to allow disabled or elderly passengers to enter or exit the capsule.
On 2nd June 2013, a passenger capsule was named the Coronation Capsule to mark the 16th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
London Eye FAQs
A. Yes the London Eye reopened its doors on 17th May 2021, in line with the Government’s latest safety guidelines.
A. The London Eye was inaugurated on 31st December, 1999 by then PM, Tony Blair. On 9th March 2000, the observation wheel opened to the general public.
A. The London Eye was built between 1998 to 1999 as a landmark to celebrate the new century. When opened the London Eye was the tallest Ferris wheel in the world. Today, it still remains Europe's tallest Ferris wheel.
A. The London Eye takes 30 minutes to cover a single rotation.
Visitors can enjoy a 360 degree view of the city to witness breathtaking landmarks including, the Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, The Shard, London Bridge, Thames River and lots more.
A. The best time to visit London Eye is between 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM from November to March, or between 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM from April to October.
A. There are a total of 32 pods, each representing the city’s 32 boroughs.
A. The London Eye capsule can hold up to 25 people in each capsule. Visitors can move around freely inside the pod, though seating is provided.
A. Yes, visitors have the option to book an entire capsule to host events with their close family and friends.
A. The wheel rotates at 26 cm per second covering one revolution in 30 minutes. The speed of the wheel is slow enough for passengers to walk on and off the moving capsule at ground level. Exceptions are made for disabled and senior citizens.
A. No, Coca-Cola sponsored the London Eye from January 2015 to November 2019. Today it is simply known as the London Eye.