|Orlando Eye - Opened 2015|
|Lulu with Convention Center -|
Note her Orlando Eye necklace.
|London Eye suspended from one side.|
Spokes are just cables. Opened 2000.
|A wedding in the London Eye gondola.|
It is more contained
Today a series of super wheels have become popular. They are called observation wheels. They are gigantic and they spin slowly - about once every 30 minutes. They seldom stop - you even step onto the cars while they are moving.
Neither the London Eye nor the Orlando Eye is the biggest in the world. That claim belongs to another wheel in Las Vegas - 550 feet high - probably called the Casino Wheel or Trump Wheel.
The 440 foot high London Eye opened in 2000 was at first called the Millennium Wheel. It has evolved through many namings by different owners - it is currently called the Coca Cola London Eye. The Orlando Eye started spinning in 2015. It is 400 feet tall.
In both rides - you stand or sit in an air conditioned gondola - that is stabilized by shock absorbers - you barely feel the motion. The cars in Orlando can hold 15 people - London's pods can hold 30. Yesterday when we rode the wheel here - we had a car to ourselves. One can dance - or do all sorts of things - the tinted glass hides most activity. We danced because of the piped in mood music - we danced like no one was watching - because no one was.
The best part of an observation wheel is having something to observe. In Orlando you get to see tourist sprawl - it is still fun to see - but Disney is far away - you can just see the EPCOT ball. In London - location is everything. The London Eye is suspended out over the Thames River. You are close to Parliament - Big Ben - Buckingham Palace - Tower of London - the Tower Bridge - the boats - and the streets full of people.
Construction of the wheels at first glance look the same - but the devil is in the details. Here in Orlando - the wheel is free standing. The spokes look more rigid. There are 8 big posts in the stand. Giant tires rub against the wheel powered by several electric motors. There is virtually no swinging parts - the gondolas are stable.
In London - the wheels has supports on only one side - all support comes form the south shore side. The wheels rides on an axle extending out from the south side - it is almost like you could change the tire on a car. It is supported by a myriad of cables. They should call it the Suspension Wheel. The London wheel itself is made of thin cables - they look like bicycle spokes - this gives the English wheel a much airier view - less obstructed venues.
Both wheels cost about $25 for a half hour ride. Here in Orlando you can buy combination tickets that include the Wax Museum and Sea Life Museum for a few dollars more. Those attractions are housed in the shopping complex at the base.
Our hotel is close to the base of the Orlando Eye. We simply could not visit here and at least try it. Standing - sitting - or walking around in a glass room about 15 x 15 can be disconcerting. They have a rail around the edge to give you a little boundary - and something to lean on if you get tipsy.
Who decides to build things like this? Where do they get the money? If I owned this wheel - I would be very concerned if there were hot sunny days in June - peak season - when only 2 people are getting into a car. I must remind myself not to judge something on only the moment I am there - but sometimes I wonder what government tourist trough was emptied to build a thing like this. Katrina money? Oil spill money? TARP money?
It is a great place to take pictures - if you want to see the Fairfield Inn - a giant missile factory - or tourists milling on International Drive. We are here for a Librarians Convention - and I am sure next to some of the meetings there - this is extremely exciting and frightening.
|I guess Legoland gave money for promotion|
|Orlando Eye more free standing -|
less airy looking
|Our Fairfield Hotel - see me waving |
out of top middle window :-)
|Lockheed Missile factory|
|It is all glass except for that tiny rail.|
We had car to ourselves
|You get off while the wheel keeps turning|
|I held onto the rail a lot.|