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The London Eye
March 2014 update: checked and updated ticket prices, added new photo
For me this Millennium addition to the London skyline and to the tourist map is a great success, and a "must-see" attraction. OK it may sound a little scary to some to be 135 metres above the ground, but trust me, it's worth overcoming any fear you may feel. Our friend Dominik did just that when we visited with him a few years ago, and as soon as our 30 minute "flight" had finished he was talking about how soon we could go again!
You travel in an enclosed capsule with a small bench in the centre and 360 degree panoramic views (40km on a clear day). Unless you've booked a private flight you won't get the capsule to yourselves though, and this is perhaps the only downside as on a busy day there could be around 20 other people in there with you, all eager for the best views. But be patient and take your time - once the initial excitement has died down you'll find there's plenty of time for everyone to get the photos they want and spot all the famous landmarks below.
I have to admit though that this isn't a cheap attraction. Adults prices start at £17.96 if you book ahead online, more if you just turn up on the day. Children (4-15 years) are charged £12.60 (though under-fours go for free and there's a family ticket that saves you a bit), senior citizens (60+) £16.50. Online booking not only saves you money, but also guarantees you a place on the busiest days - but of course you'll be taking a gamble on the weather. The best thing to do is to book online on the morning of your planned visit.
There are also a variety of more expensive "added extra" tickets including fast track ones that let you bypass the queue (£26.55 for adults), flexi fast track that let you visit at any time during the day of your booking (so you could wait until a shower past or morning mist lifted perhaps - £32.05) and a flexi standard (no queue skipping but you can pick your time of day - £22.96). Personally I wouldn't pay the extra to skip the queue - it's not a major hardship to stand in line and it's a lot extra. But the flexi standard might be worth considering if you need flexibility or want to maximise your chance of decent weather conditions. However the best added extra is probably the "Night and Day Experience" which for £24.03 lets you have two rides - one in the day and one after dark.
All prices are correct as of March 2014 and relate to an adult ticket bought in advance online. You can see all the options on the relevant section of the website.
Oh and in case you're wondering, a private capsule will cost you £500 and upwards! Or if you're planning to "pop the question" (an English slang term for proposing) you could consider a so-called "Cupid's Capsule" - a private capsule for two with champagne and chocolate truffles for £350. But remember, you'll only have 30 minutes in which to do it!
At a leisurely speed of 0.9 km/hr (or 0.6 mph) the Eye takes about 30 minutes to make a complete revolution. This speed is slow enough that, unlike a typical ferris wheel ride, it does not need to come to a stop to unload and load passengers. Ushers encourage passengers to quickly exit the pod through a door on the end and the empty pod continues to slowly move along to a line of waiting passengers, who board through the same door. Note the yellow line painted beneath the pod and part of a net visible next to it - just in case a bumbling passenger somehow falls over and tries to land in the Thames! The usher told me to get moving into our pod, never mind the photo!
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- Family Travel
Around We Go
We had a beautifully clear, but chilly, day for our ride in the London sky. As we slowly and quietly rose up, the views were great in all directions from our glass walled pod! Here, in this North looking view, the shadow of the Eye falls on the River Thames and the Golden Jubilee Bridge as it leads into Charing Cross train and tube station.
The second photo shows one of the 32 capsules, each capable of holding up to 25 passengers. A long bench is located in the centre of each capsule and passengers can either sit there or roam around the circumference taking in whatever view strikes their fancy. Still looking North in the 2nd photo, our capsule has climbed a bit higher and the Waterloo Bridge is now visible. The viewing range is up to 40 km (25 miles) at the highest point.
- Family Travel
Eye on Big Ben (A view from the London Eye)
Amazing views in all directions, but I just couldn't keep my eyes off "Big Ben." Notice the two tiny red dots? Those are two double decker buses, one right behind the other.
How would you like to see "Big Ben" LIVE, right this very minute? Or perhaps the London Eye? I often watch the London sunrise from Memphis, Tennessee! I just love Big Ben, and sometimes, I click on the web cam, shrink it to a suitable size, keep it in the background, and every now and again, see what the weather is like for myself, instead of just asking about it. There is even a shark cam in the London Aquarium, and once I waited nearly 15 minutes just to see one swim close by. You may save the pics to your computer, but be aware they are copyrighted, so you won't see any here. I have a spectacular shark photo, along with a sunrise pic of the London Eye that is incredible!
See for yourself, what London looks like, right here and now. Click on the links below or copy/paste URL into browser.
England Live Cams
Please see my "Eye on London" tip for additional information on The London Eye.
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Flying over the City
We skipped the Eye on our first trip due to the hordes of people (over Easter break). This time, the masses weren't there, so we did it! I highly recommend this flight! The view was spectacular. We waited in line for a few minutes for a ticket and had a flight time of 15 minutes later. I've found that if you book on-line you can save 5 percent....and go straight to a reservation machine, swipe your card, and get your ticket. There is also a deal on-line through Porter's English Restaurant (Covent Garden)....dinner and a flight on the London Eye for 25 GBP per adult and 12 GBP for children. You get a two course traditional English Meal and when you are done, take a ten minute walk to the Eye for your trip.
Adult (16+) 11.50 GBP
Child (5-15) 5.75 GBP
Children under 5 FREE
Senior (60+) 9.00 GBP
- Family Travel
Once we arrived in downtown London at the Waterloo train station it was not difficult to figure out what our first attraction was going to be. As we stepped outside the station, we were greeted by this view of the now famous London Eye, officially called the Millenneum Wheel, standing on the south bank of the River Thames. This tallest in the world viewing wheel, at 135 m (443 ft) was built to celebrate the incoming 21st Century and officially opened on Dec. 31, 1999 (although it was not open to the public until March, 2000).
A recent public opinion poll voted the Eye as the best tourist attraction in the world, and I would have to say that I really enjoyed our 'flight' on it! We soon hoofed it over to their very efficient ticketing area where the long lines moved along quickly as we picked up our 12.5 pound (US$22) tickets. The second photo shows a view of the Wheel hub and the rotating 'pods' directly above our heads as we then stood in a second line to actually board the Eye (the entire structure weighs 2100 tonnes).
- Family Travel
I have been on the Lonon Eye twice now and I think it is a great addition to the South Bank. The first time was a couple of years ago and the view was not that great as it was overcast that day. The second time was last week and the views were fantastic. You could see all the way to Wembley! The flight lasts about 30 minutes and you are in large pods which hold about thirty people.
It did not feel cramped though. You are able to move about and see all round.
We booked on the morning but I would advise to book in advance to avoid disappoinment.
THE LONDON EYE
You shouldn't miss London's big wheel !!
The Eye takes you on a 30 minute "flight", each capsule holding up to 25 people.
You'll enjoy a fantastic and panoramic view of the city and its landmarks. On a clear day you'll be able to see as far as 25 miles (40 kms).
You should book in advance and get there early to avoid queuing to board.
Admission: 11 Pounds (adults)
Open at 9.30 am.
Ride the "Eye"
The London Eye is one of the best tourist attractions in the capital - I have been on it 3 or 4 times! (Different times of day - with different people! ) It offers magnificent views over London (but best on a clear and sunny day )
Tickets are now 12.50GBP per adult.
It's a good idea to know what you are looking at when you are up there - so buy one of those panoramic view cards before you take your trip -that way you will recognise some landmarks and get more out of it. The queues are horrendous on Summer Saturdays but... if you can... do a winter night "flight."... at 8pm in November you can just walk on and if the evening is clear and starry.... you can almost see heaven from your own private pod! :))
When you come down... take a stroll along the South Bank to the secondhand book market.... you might find a treasure! Then you can get a nice cup of coffee and watch the boats along the Thames.... isn't London great ???
London Eye - fly above the city :)
The British Airways London Eye offers the greatest view of London, and definitely the best view of the Parliament and the Big Ben.
I couldn't get in in 2000 (way too many people), but now it's a little better and in off peak seasons, like nov in November you might get as lucky as we were: we got to our cabin in less then 10 minutes.
The "flight" takes about 30 minutes, and all of them are worth to live through! :)
Tickets are for sale (11.50 for an adult, 9 for senior citizens above 60 and for students...) and you can also book online (the ticket office is inside the County Hall, the building just in front of the Eye).
From October until December the opening times are: 9:30am-8:00pm daily.
The London Eye stops for no-one. It moves continuously around its axis at 26 centimeters per second - enough time to fill its 25 passenger capsules as it makes its way around on its 30 minute rotation. Well it does stop for the disabled and elderly, but generally you need to prepare yourself to get on and get ready. If, like a friend of mine, you make a last minute decision to freak out: DO NOT GET ON. You will be locked in and you will force your fellow passengers to endure 30 minutes of screaming. Be careful if you suffer from vertigo, the glass ovoid capsules and the fragile appearance of the wheel can trigger bad reactions in otherwise calm people.
The London Eye is functional and minimalist in its design. It creates a circumference solid enough to lift 32 ten ton capsules and all 800 passengers, the 135 meters to its apex, and yet there hardly seems any more to it than the rim of a very large bicycle wheel. Unlike most Ferris Wheels its propped up on only one side, allowing it to hang over the river Thames. And despite its lightweight appearance its designed to withstand the battering of the worst storms of the last half a century.
When it was built there was nothing like it in London. Amazingly for one of the most visited cities in the world, there was no Eiffel Tower - no vantage point of any kind to view the centre of the city. When it was built to commemorate the new century, it seemed the most obvious thing to build. It is only with the building of the Shard nearby has its height been eclipsed by another observation deck. Nothing else had previously come close.
Eye on London
The London Eye, formerly known as The Millennium Wheel is definitely a "must see" and experience of a lifetime. This structure cost an impressive £75 million and took almost 16 months to build, with attention to every detail, including allowances to cope with the wind. There are 32 capsules with each one capable of carrying up to 25 people. It is the tallest observation wheel in the world, at 135 metres tall. (443 ft.) It travels at 0.26 metres per second, equivalent to 1/4 of the average walking speed. (really S L O W) You do not even realize that you are moving, except for the fact that Big Ben keeps getting smaller. Although "Big Ben" is actually the huge bell hung inside, not the clock tower, hopefully, you can see the point I am attempting to illustrate. On a clear day, you can see up to 25 mile panoramic views.
I highly recommend buying the tour book (£5) because it is filled with every detail from design, construction, awards, etc. It even shows the raising of "The Eye" from horizontally afloat the River Thames to it's current position. Worth it! The idea for the London Eye originated as a husband and wife entered a competition in the Sunday Times newspaper, to mark the dawning of the new millennium in the city. Ironically, all of the entries were rejected, and the competition was withdrawn. The couple then formed a company to further develop their idea. London's daily paper, the Evening Standard printed a story about their dream, British Airways came aboard, a partnership was formed, and the dream became reality.
The rotation takes approximately 30minutes and the announcement before "take-off" actually says that British Airways hopes you enjoy your flight. There is also a photograph taken at some point during the "flight", where you are instructed to smile for the camera, and for an astronomical amount of money, you can purchase a photo, upon "landing." The next time I visit London, I will experience an incredible night view of the city lights from what seems like a mile high in the sky.
- Adventure Travel
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Appreciate London from a whole new perspective!
The London Eye has been a very welcome addition to London's extensive list of tourist attractions, as it provides an entirely new perspective on Central London. It situated on the South Bank, next to the London aquarium and opposite the Houses of Parliament, and at 135m high, it is Europe's largest Ferris wheel.
It was opened on the eve of the New Millenium (31 December 1999) and is now apparently Britain's most popular tourist attraction for which you have to pay an entrance fee, so crowds are obviously an issue. I was lucky enough to have an hour to kill late one autumn afternoon, and was literally able to wander into the next departing cabin, but I think that it would be realistic to plan on quite a wait, especially if you're visiting in high season (unless you're willing to pay a premium for a 'fast track' ticket - see the website below).
The wheel rotates very slowly, and the ride lasts half an hour - which is great as it gives you plenty of time to appreciate the view and work out what's where, but if you're expecting a white knuckle ride you'll be disappointed!
To my mind, there is no point whatsoever in doing this if the weather is bad. The wheel rotates so slowly that it isn't a wonderful fairground experience, and the great attraction is the view, which you can obviously only appreciate when the visibility is good. I was lucky enough to do the ride about 1700 on a September evening, so the late afternoon light was lovely and the sunset was gorgeous - sadly as I was coming from a business meeting, I didn't have my camera with me. London's twinkling lights stretching down below you at night would also be very pretty, although you obviously wouldn't be able to make out the same level of detail.
I am not sure that I would recommend this ride for small children, as I think that they would get bored long before the end of 30 minutes. Also, to get most out of it, you need to have an appreciation of what you're looking at, so bring along a map so that you can orient yourself.
It has to be said that this is not a cheap experience. At the time of writing (January 2011), the standard cost per person was a hefty £18, although online booking (which has to be done at least a day ahead) can result in a 10% saving. There are also many other options available, including family tickets (for two adults and two children) and a range of 'fast track' tickets, private cabin tickets and combination tickets (for example, with a river cruise or the Aquarium), so best to consult the website below and decide which alternative suits you best.
London Eye "Champagne Experience".
The full name, since January 2011, is "EDF Energy London Eye". EDF Energy is Britain’s largest producer of low carbon electricity and EDF is Électricité de France S.A. the world’s largest utility company. Headquartered in Paris!
Oh my God, the London Eye belongs now to the French! Do they know that at Buckingham?
Is this the Tour Eiffel of London? It seems indeed with nearly 4 millions visitors per year. But it is more expensive (19.95 £ - standard ticket 2014) than the Tour Eiffel (lift to top at 324 meters costs 15,00 €. - 2014).
Actually this is another Ferris wheel of which examples exist elsewhere. This one is bigger, 135m high, than the others at least in Europe. It has been surpassed by the 160 m "Star of Nanchang" in 2006, and then the 165 m "Singapore Flyer" in 2008.
When I looked at the wheel from the river Thames I was surprised it moved so slowly, a full turn in 30 minutes, and I wondered if I would like to be confined with 25 other persons in a capsule during such long period.
But fortunately I read that it is possible with the "Champagne Tasting Capsule" to enjoy five Pommery champagnes "served by your host while you take in amazing views of the capital" at a cost (2014) of 48.50 £. This during two 30-minute rotations
The price includes priority boarding.
How did I miss all that?
the famous London Eye
The London Eye is one of the most successful millenium projects.
I ve heard that on a clear day you can see as far as 35-40km.
I ve never been on it as i think it s a little expensive for what it is (£11.5, i d rather see some beautiful scenery elsewhere), i also think i would ve seen enough after 10mn (the ride is about 1/2h) and i m really not sure i would like to queue so long to go on it but it s probably because i live here.
The day i took this picture, the Eye was closed as there was a guy who had climbed all the way to the top to protest about fathers rights (the Eye is about 130m high, best he hasnt got vertigo!!!!!)
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