One of the top family attractions in London is a relative recent newcomer which started life as a temporary monument. Now the most popular tourist attraction in London, its hard to believe the London Eye hasn’t always been around. In honor of the London Eye turning 20 years old, here are 10 fun facts about the London Eye you probably didn’t know!
10 Fun Facts About The London Eye
- The London Eye weighs 1700 tons and is 443 feet high. Each of the 32 capsules weighs 10 tons in itself!!
- The London Eye took years to build and a whole bevy of architects (not to mention tons of steel and concrete). Although then-Prime Minister Blair formally opened the London Eye on New Year’s Eve 1999, the London Eye was only operational on March 9, 2000. In a city as centuries old as London, a few months is neither here nor there.
- Similar to the original history of the Eiffel Tower, the London Eye was only supposed to be a temporary exhibit for a few years to celebrate the Millennium. In 2002, it was agreed that the London Eye could be a permanent fixture on the London landmark scene.
Unlike other top paid attractions in London, the London Eye pays its way by being a giant billboard. The London Eye has been sponsored by many different companies along the years. The sponsors started off with British Airways and have included EDF Energy, Coca Cola and LastMinute.com.
- There are 32 capsules on the London Eye which is one capsule per London Borough. But they are numbers up to 33 because capsule number 13 is skipped for reasons of superstition.
- As one of the top family attractions in London, people have taken the London Eye multiple times. My son loves the London Eye and has taken it 4 times. That’s nowhere near Kate Moss who is reputed to have taken it 25 times.
- Unlike most other ferris wheels, the London Eye is cantilevered – i.e., it is supported on only one side of the wheel. The spindle that holds up the cantilevered wheel weighs 300 tons and over 75 feet high. The pods hang outside of the wheel frame instead of underneath like in ferris wheels.
- On a clear day in London (which is rare!) you can see for miles. You may not get to see as far as the Queen’s favourite residence, Windsor Castle (about 25 miles away) but you will get to see Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s official residence. Usually we only ever have seen as far as our home near Hampstead Heath.
- One of the London Eye fun facts you may not be aware of is that the London Eye has been used to highlight aspects of London. For example, events at the London Eye have celebrated its club culture (where well known musicians performed in the pods) or its restaurant scene (where well known chefs served up food in the pods). On New Year’s Eve, the London Eye is the focal point for the fireworks over the Thames sponsored by the Mayor of London.
- The London Eye gets more visitors than many other attractions in the world – such as Tokyo Tower in Japan or the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. It attracts about 3.5 million visitors a year so similar numbers as the Empire State Building in New York City but less than the Eiffel Tower in Paris which gets about 7 million visitors annually.
The London Eye is the top paid attraction in London. (The British Museum is the top free attraction in London).
- In one year the London Eye rotates 2300 miles so in its 20 years thus far, the London Eye has travelled 46,000 miles!! That is nearly the distance of going 2x around the world!
Book Tickets For The London Eye
The London Eye is super slow going at a rate of 10 inches per second. So it isn’t scary fast and you have plenty of time to observe the London skyline and spot landmarks.
As one of the most popular tourist attractions in London with millions of visitors every year, you should book tickets for London Eye well in advance of your visit. There are a variety of tickets available from standard to a family pass and a fast-track.
The lines for the London Eye can be huge, especially during the peak summer holidays. There are so many other attractions in London to visit that you don’t want to waste your precious time standing in line.
Definitely book tickets for the London Eye in advance of your visit. If you book London Eye tickets, you will get a time slot during which to arrive which will save you time, money and hassle.
How To Find the London Eye
The London Eye is located near the South Bank Center. The easiest way to reach the London Eye is from Waterloo Station using exit 6. Alternatively, get off at Embankment Station and walk across Westminster Bridge.
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