The London Eye is one of London’s most famous landmarks, and you’ll see images of it almost everywhere you go. These days, it is sponsored by Coca Cola, but in previous years it’s been sponsored by British Airways and Energie De France. It used to be the world’s largest Ferris wheel, and although it’s now been beaten by ones in Las Vegas and Singapore, it’s still an impressive sight (and it’s still Europe’s tallest!). It’s almost 500 feet tall, but if you’re afraid of heights, don’t worry – it’s very, very safe! If you’re afraid it’ll go a bit fast and will be like a fairground ride, don’t worry about that either – it goes at snail’s pace so everybody can get great pictures of London.
The London Eye is supported by huge steel cables, which stretch some way back from the River Thames. It was opened by Tony Blair on New Year’s Eve, 1999. The project was very European, as major parts of the Eye come from countries like France, Italy and Germany. The eye has 32 capsules, and the passengers jump in and out at the bottom. You have to hurry – the capsule doesn’t stop moving, unless a disabled person wants to get on. They change position as the wheel moves round and round, so that passengers don’t end up upside down! Each capsule represents a London Borough. Each trip on the Eye takes about half an hour, so it’s a nice place to rest with some snacks during a busy day in London.
Inside the capsule, there is a touch screen information point which tells you about the buildings and landmarks you can see. On the walls, there are also signs which show which direction you’re facing – North, South, East or West. If you wanted to learn more about the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, the Shard or even Wembley Stadium, just tap the screen and you’ll find lots of information about it!
Over 40 million people have visited the London Eye since it opened. It costs £21.50 for an adult ticket now, and £15.50 for a child. However, under 4’s go free, and if you buy your tickets in advance from the website then they are about 10% cheaper. The price of the ticket includes admission to the eye, and also a “4D experience”. This is a short film about what you can see from the Eye, and it uses 3D screening so the famous landmarks appear to stick out at the audience. Because it’s 4D, the part in the film when it starts to snow means that white foam rains down on the audience in the cinema! Cool, right? You can get there really easily, as there are lots of underground stations nearby. The nearest is Waterloo, and from here you can catch trains to the South and South West of England. Other stations across the river like Embankment and Westminster are also within easy reach of the Eye.
Even if you live in London, the London Eye is something you have to do at least once in your lifetime.
Image from: http://hdimagegallery.net/london+eye+at+night