10 of the World's Craziest Ferris Wheels

By Spencer Hart on at

Tonight the London Eye will be lit up with hundreds of fireworks as cold, uncomfortable revellers sing Auld Lang Syne along the banks of the Thames. If the London Eye isn't enough Ferris wheel for you, we've collected nine other weird and wonderful wheels to feed your Ferris addiction.

1.) London Eye (UK)

As it’s the Ferris wheel we’ll all be focusing on tonight (assuming you’re sad like me and spend New Year’s in front of the television), the London Eye is a good place to start. The Eye tops out at 135 metres, making it the world’s largest Ferris wheel when it was completed in 1999. The London Eye held this record until 2006, but has since been beaten by three taller wheels.

The Eye was erected as a celebration of the millennium and originally called the Millennium Eye, although some other (less well-known) official names include the British Airways London Eye, Merlin Entertainments London Eye and EDF Energy London Eye. As of February 2015 the Eye will be sponsored by Coca Cola.

The wheel moves slowly at 0.6 miles per hour and a full rotation takes around 30 minutes. The London Eye makes around 8000 revolutions per year and carries more than 10,000 passengers a day. [Image Credit: Wikipedia]

2.) The Original Ferris Wheel (Chicago, 1893)

The world’s first Ferris Wheel was unveiled in the summer of 1893 at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The attraction was in commemoration of four hundred years since Christopher Columbus first discovered the Americas.

The structure was designed by George Washington Gale Ferris (hence the name) a steel engineer who designed and built the wheel as a rival to the Eiffel Tower. The Ferris Wheel rotated on a 71 ton steel axle which was powered by thousand-horsepower steam engines.

As no cabs were attached on the first run, the workmen jumped aboard and clung onto the steel spokes as the wheel rotated. The attraction originally cost 50 cents to ride and was demolished in 1906. [Image Credit: Wikipedia]

3.) Singapore Flyer (Singapore)

Standing at 165 metres tall, the Singapore Flyer was the world’s tallest Ferris wheel from 2008 to 2014. Construction of the wheel took two and a half years, and was criticised heavily for resembling the London Eye.

Initially the wheel rotated in a counter-clockwise direction when viewed from the Marina Centre, but in August 2008, the rotation of the wheel was reversed on the advice of Feng Shui ‘Masters’. [Image Credit: Wikipedia]

4.) Pacific Wheel (Santa Monica, California)

The Pacific Wheel in Santa Monica’s Pacific Park is the first solar-powered Ferris wheel in the world. The wheel sports 160,000 low-power LED lights to illuminate it at night.

In 2008 the original wheel was sold on eBay with a minimum bid of $50,000. After five days of bidding the winning offer was made by a property developer from Oklahoma, who paid $132,500 for the attraction. The wheel on Santa Monica pier was replaced with an identical (but newer) model less than a month after it was sold. [Image Credit: Wikimedia]

5.) Tianjin Eye (Tianjin, China)

The Tianjin Eye in China is unique in the world of Ferris wheels all due to its location -- it’s sandwiched between a dual carriageway. The 120 metre tall wheel is perched on a bridge which carries traffic and pedestrians across the Hai River. [Image Credit: Wikipedia]

6.) Big O (Tokyo, Japan)

The 'Big O' in the Tokyo Dome City theme park is the first ever Ferris wheel to forgo the centre axle. Located in the centre of Tokyo, this wheel only measures 60 metres tall but still offers spectacular views of the city.

To top it off Japan’s tallest roller coaster, the Thunder Dolphin, speeds through the centre of the wheel at around 80 miles per hour. [Image Credit: Observation Wheel Directory]

7.) The Star Wheel

Now it’s time for something completely different; the Star Wheel is a ‘kinetic sculpture’ from artist Paul Cesewski. The wheel is a mobile, human-powered contraption which is driven by three people seated on bicycles around the centre axle. As they pedal the wheel begins to rotate and is propelled forward.

The Star Wheel was created for Utah’s Burning Man Festival in 2005 and has been touring similar festivals ever since. [Image Credit: BBC]

8.) Wiener Riesenrad (Vienna, Austria)

The oldest surviving Ferris wheel still in operation today is the Wiener Riesenrad in Vienna. The 65 metre tall wheel was constructed in 1897, it narrowly survived the Second World War with 15 of its original 30 carriages in tact.

The wheel resides in Prater amusement park, and held the ‘world’s tallest Ferris wheel’ title for 65 years (which is longer than any other wheel). [Image Credit: Wikimedia]

9.) The High Roller (Las Vegas, USA)

It’s surprising Las Vegas didn’t have a Ferris wheel before 2014 as the two seem to be a match made in Heaven. However when Sin City finally got its act together, it proved everything is bigger in America with The High Roller -- currently holding the title of tallest Ferris wheel in the world.

Completed in March 2014 and measuring 167.6 metres, The High Roller is 2.6 metres taller than the second place Singapore Flyer. The wheel is part of the Linq, a giant shopping and entertainment complex. Each cabin features eight flatscreen televisions and an iPod dock -- so visitors need’t even bother looking out the windows. [Image Credit: Groupon]

10.) Batumi Technical University Tower (Batumi, Georgia)

You’d be forgiven for thinking a skyscraper mounted Ferris wheel is pure science fiction, but you’d be wrong.

The Batumi Technical University Tower in Georgia is a 35 story office block, with an eight-cabined functional Ferris wheel bolted to the side 100 metres above the ground. It was completed despite significant engineering difficulties, and created as a tourist attraction for Turkish gamblers. [Image Credit: SkyScraperCity]

[Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock]