Visitor tips for the London Eye
The giant Ferris wheel of London is simply unmistakable. It is situated on the South Bank of the River Thames, in the London Borough of Lambeth, between Westminster Bridge and Hungerford Bridge. Measuring a height of 135 meters with a diameter of 120 meters, it is the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe. The most popular paid tourist attraction in London is visited by more than 3,5 million tourists every year. It was erected in 1999 and was officially called the British Airways London Eye, because the construction project was sponsored by British Airways. If you spend your holiday in London, you just can not miss to at least take a photograph of the giant structure, but I advise you to buy a ticket and spend that breathtaking half-hour ride comfortably in one of the space age capsules.
Construction and design
The wheel was designed by a team formed by 7 architects, while the ovoidal capsules were designed and supplied by Leitner-Poma of America. There are 32 capsules which are attached to the external circumference of the wheel that is rotated by electric motors. It took more than a year and a half to construct the wheel, using more than 1700 tonnes of steel during the process. Every capsule is 8 meters long and accommodates up to 25 passengers. The wheel rotates at 26 cm per second and the revolution takes about half an hour. It rotates relatively slow, this is why it doesn’t usually stop to take on passengers, they can get on and off the capsules at ground level. In case of elderly or disabled passengers the wheel is stopped to allow the safety embarkation or disembarkation.
Visiting the Ferris wheel
The London Eye stands right opposite to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament and provides stunning views over central London. Passengers are allowed to walk around inside the capsules during the revolution, though seating is provided. If you decide to visit the Eye, I suggest you do this at evening. The view is the most romantic at this time. It is well worth booking tickets in advance, because they are not always available on the day and even if there are, the queues are not so incentive. There is a new online booking service, so you can reserve your ticket in a few seconds and there is no booking fee. During the year opening hours change. In the period January to March it can be visited daily from 10:00 am to 8:30 pm, April to June: daily from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm, July to August: daily from 10:00 am to 9:30 pm and September to December: daily from 10:00 am to 8:30 pm. The London Eye is closed Christmas Day and for some days in January for maintenance purpose. The ticket prices are: for adults UKP 18.50, for children (4-14 years old) UKP 9.50 and for children under 4 it is free.