When I started listing things I wanted to do during our visit to England, riding the London Eye didn’t even crack the top ten. It just seemed extremely touristy, and I’m really not a fan of Ferris wheels. As in I may have a slight fear of them. I blame Steven Spielberg.
As it turns out, the Eye was only a mile from our flat. And when I thought about the fact that it would offer an incredible view of the city, I decided to move past my irrational fear. So one afternoon we strolled down the the Thames riverfront to give it a whirl.
For starters, the London Eye is not a Ferris wheel, not really. The operators actually call it “the world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel.” I like that. I also like that rather than sitting on an open air bench rotating over the river, riders are ushered into an enclosed glass pod that can hold up to 25 people. Much more comfy than your average Ferris wheel, especially on a rainy day.
The wheel moves slowly enough that people can walk on and off without stopping the rotation. But for wheelchairs and other riders who may need assistance, they bring the Eye to a complete stop. Benches in the center of the air-conditioned capsule leave plenty of room for a wheelchair to move around, and several digital map screens help point out the landmarks that you can see from each end of the pod.
And what an amazing view you get from 443 feet in the air! Big Ben and Westminster Abbey sit just across the river, the Tower of London, the Shard and the Gherkin can be seen to the south, and that’s just the beginning. Even with rain and clouds it was a great way to look over the city.
Can’t get to London? You can still appreciate the skyline from above because now they have an app for that. Of course. The London Eye Guide gives you facts and other information about the many landmarks, as well as sharing the incredible views.
Accessibility: 5 out of 5. Ramps lead up to the loading dock and the spacious pods leave plenty of room for a wheelchair to get around. No transferring is necessary and they bring the Eye to a complete stop for loading and unloading passengers in wheelchairs.
Fun Fact: The wheel moves at a speed of .6 mph so one revolution takes about 30 minutes. During the first eight years of operation (200 to 2008), the London Eye had more than 30 million riders. It is still one of London’s most popular attractions. Read more on their Wikipedia page.