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Other Giant Wheels Of The World

Benjamin Sheares Bridge and the Singapore Flyer. Photo Credit:  AranhoFollowing the successful launch of the London Eye in 2000, other cities have planned and in some cases built giant observation wheels of their own. Indeed the Eye’s architects, David Marks and Julia Barfield initially envisaged having duplicates of their iconic London landmark dotted in famous cities across the globe. That idea appears to have been dropped amid the complications that arose during the construction and ongoing financing of the London version.

Asian Revolutions

Despite this setback, the dream of replicating the Eye’s bold new revolving way of seeing a city has finally reached fruition in cities across Asia.

First to open to the public was China’s Star of Nanchang in May 2006, which at 160 metres (525 feet), is 25m (82ft) taller than the London Eye. It carries up to 480 people in sixty enclosed gondolas, each of which is climate-controlled and can carry eight passengers.

1 March 2008 saw the unveiling of a fresh record breaker, The Singapore Flyer, a 165m (541ft) wheel capable of carrying 784 passengers.

Top of the world Ma

Soaring high above both of these new arrivals will be the Great Beijing Wheel, which at 208m (682ft) – more than half as high again as the London Eye – is set to comfortably steal the crown of ‘world’s tallest observation wheel’.

Capable of carrying 1,920 passengers in 48 capsules, this wheel was originally due to be launched alongside the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, but first technical , then financial issues have postponed the opening date indefinitely. Shame they haven’t labeled it the Great Wheel of China though.

Beware the Rhino

Originally scheduled to open in 2009, Germany planned to have Europe’s largest wheel in its capital Berlin. However, this project has for now been stalled due to financial problems. The Great Berlin Wheel will be 185m (606ft) – 50m higher than the London Eye – and capable of carrying up to 1,500 passengers in 36 gondolas. Located in the Zoogarten area of the city, there are fears that the lights and movement of the structure will prejudice the sleeping patterns of nearby Berlin zoo’s rhinoceros community.

The Big Orange

Originally forecast to arrive at the tail end of 2009, but now suspended (not cancelled), is The Great Orlando Wheel. The 122 metre (400 foot) goliath will take up to 960 visitors at a time on a half-hour ride in air-conditioned pods over the nearby Orange County Convention Center. A convention-oriented, Venetian-themed hotel is also due as part of the development to help provide visitor traffic to the attraction.

Middle Earth

In the summer of 2008 the Greenwich Observation Wheel, a 55 metre (180 foot) temporary ride opened to the public. Situated near the Greenwich Meridian Line, it afforded passengers the chance to glance simultaneously across both the Western and Eastern Hemispheres. The Wheel was constructed over a two-week period and was open daily for a total of fourteen weeks from 21 June to 28 September.

So, who’s the daddy?

China's Star of Nanchang. Photo Credit:  SaganagaBy Height:
1) Great Beijing Wheel* – 208 metres (682 feet)
2) Great Berlin Wheel* – 185 metres (606ft)
3) The Singapore Flyer – 165m (541ft)
4) Star of Nanchang – 160m (525ft)
5) London Eye – 135m (443ft)
6) Great Orlando Wheel* – 122m (400ft)
* Unfinished, suspended or abandoned
For comparison the world’s tallest building is currently Taipei 101 in Taiwan at 509m (1,670ft). This will be eclipsed by the Burj Dubai, which will be 818m (2,684ft) on completion in 2009.

By Capacity:
1) Great Beijing Wheel* – 1,920 passengers
2) Great Berlin Wheel* – 1,500 passengers
3) Great Orlando Wheel* – 960 passengers
4) London Eye – 800 passengers
5) The Singapore Flyer – 784 passengers
6) Star of Nanchang – 480 passengers
* Unfinished, suspended or abandoned
For comparison the world’s largest airliner, the Airbus A380, typically carries 525 passengers.

First Arrivals:
1) London Eye – March 2000
2) Star of Nanchang – May 2006
3) The Singapore Flyer – March 2008
4) Great Beijing Wheel* – (Originally planned to open, 2009)
5) Great Berlin Wheel* – (Originally planned to open, Autumn 2009)
6) Great Orlando Wheel* – (Originally planned to open, Late 2009)
* Unfinished, suspended or abandoned
George Ferris’s original Big Wheel premiered at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893.

China begins world-record wheel (BBC)
The Great Wheel Corporation
World’s tallest buildings (Wikipedia)
Berlin set to build Europe’s biggest giant wheel (Earthtimes)
Old Royal Naval College
Great Wheel buys land for $38 million (Orlando Business Journal)