One of the newest and most popular tourist attractions located in London is a Ferris wheel aptly named the London Eye. When it was opened at the turn of the century, it was larger than any other Ferris wheel ever built. Providing ith a scenic view over the River Thames, the London Eye is 135 meters tall. If you hear people talking about the British Airways London Eye, the EDF Energy London Eye, the Merlin Entertainments London Eye, or the Millennium Wheel, you should know that they are simply using one of the many names for the London Eye.
What makes the London Eye such a popular attraction is that it spins very slowly in a rich tourist area. You get breathtaking scenic views of London as you rotate. You begin your trip in a tourist part of the town but slowly rise up for better views of such sites as the Hungerford Bridge, Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Bridge. Visitors can now see London in a way that was never possible before.
Because it weighs about 1,800 tons and is so tall, it took many days just to position the London Eye vertically. Up to 25 passengers can ride in each of the 32 capsules that are securely fastened around the wheel. These air-conditioned capsules make excellent observation vehicles, with passengers allowed to roam around freely looking out the 360 degree windows. This is made possible by the slow rate at which the wheel spins. The ride around the wheel takes about thirty minutes. In fact, the rate of motion is so slow that the wheel must only be stopped for entering and exiting passengers who are disabled.
The London Eye was a joint project of British Airways, the Marks Barfield family, and The Tussauds Group. The architects responsible for the design of the London Eye were Nic Bailey, Julia Barfield, Malcolm Cook, David Marks, Steven Chilton, and Mark Sparrowhawk. On December 31, 1999, it was ceremonially opened by Tony Blair while he was the prime minister of Britain. However, it wasn’tput into service until March 2000. In 2006, British Airways and the Marks Barfield family were bought out by The Tussauds Group. Merlin Entertainments then bought out The Tussauds Group. The many names associated with the London eye are the result of these ownership changes, political factors, and various paid sponsorship agreements.