- A landmark for the new millennium 5. A family project
- Extra entertainment 6. Lighting up the night
- An international project 7. A favourable location
- Safety rules on the wheel 8. Appropriate for all ages
A. The Merlin Entertainments London Eye is usually called the London Eye. It is the tallest observation wheel in Europe and it was opened on 31st December, 1999. The designers originally planned it to be a part of the great celebration for the coming of the year 2000. Since then it has been a great tourist attraction — more than three million people visit it every year.
B It took more than a year and a half to complete the wheel. Over 1700 tonnes of metal were used in the structure. Several countries contributed to the project. The egg-shaped capsules, which can take up to 25 passengers, were transported from France by train across the English Channel. The central part of the wheel was made in the Czech Republic.
C. The London Eye is situated on the South Bank of the River Thames in London. It lies between Westminster Bridge and Hungerford Bridge, in the very heart of the city. The passengers have a fantastic view over London. They can clearly see many famous landmarks like Buckingham Palace, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Houses of Parliament.
D. The London Eye was designed by two architects, David Marks and Julia Barfield, husband and wife. They took part in a competition for the best millennium landmark and suggested the idea of a large observation wheel. Actually, none of the participants won the competition, but the couple managed to get the financial support of British Airways that sponsored the construction.
E. The observation wheel turns rather slowly. The London Eye is perfect for families with children. Parents can even bring babies on board as the capsule is completely enclosed. The wheel does not usually stop to take on new passengers — the slow motion allows passengers to walk on and off the capsules at ground level. Even elderly tourists find the wheel comfortable.
F. Since 2005, the London Eye has been the main location for New Year celebrations and impressive firework displays. Every coming year is marked by a 10-minute firework show, welcomed by Londoners. Fireworks can also be fired from the wheel itself. Additionally, since 2006, the London Eye has been lit by thousands of lamps, which have made night trips on the wheel extremely popular.
G. The growing popularity of the London Eye makes tourists line up for tickets. In 2009, the owners of the attraction suggested new features, which were included in the price of the tickets. They introduced a new ticket hall where people can watch a 4D film before they get on the wheel.