Believe us, these are not your average carnival rides. From the London Eye to the Singapore Flyer, these eight record-breaking spoked wonders are the coolest Ferris wheels in the world.
1. London Eye
The London Eye, with a circumference of 1,392 feet and a height of 443 feet, currently holds the title of Europe’s biggest wheel. It can accommodate 800 passengers in its 32 pods. According to the website, that’s the equivalent of 11 iconic London double-decker buses. Since it took its inaugural rotation 15 years ago, the wheel has become one of London’s most recognizable attractions. It reportedly receives more annual visitors than the Taj Mahal or the Great Pyramids of Giza.
The world’s first Ferris wheel made its debut at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, so it’s only fitting the city pays homage with a 150-foot-tall replica. Located at Navy Pier and open year round (whether permitting, of course), the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel offers spectacular views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline.
3. Singapore Flyer
Promising a moving experience at every turn, the Singapore Flyer offers a variety of unique themed “flights” from within the Ferris wheel’s air conditioned pods. You can enjoy teatime, sip a Singapore Sling, or dine on a butler-ed meal. When it opened in 2008, the Singapore Flyer was the tallest in the world at 541 feet. Today it is number two behind Las Vegas’ High Roller. Ride it at night when you’ll not only see the wheel lit up, but you can marvel at the illuminated landmarks below, like Merlion Park, Marina Bay, Raffles Hotel and the Esplanade.
4. Pacific Wheel
Santa Monica, California
The brightly-colored Pacific Wheel shines both day and night. By day its rainbow-painted passenger baskets glisten in the California sun and by night the wheel is illuminated by 160,000 LED lights that put on a dizzying show. It also happens to be the only solar-powered Ferris wheel in the world. You can find the 130-feet-tall ride perched near the end of Santa Monica Pier within Pacific Park, a free amusement park.
5. Melbourne Star
The spokes of this massive Ferris wheel form a seven-pointed star as a nod to the Australian flag. A ride on the Melbourne Star will provide you with 30 minutes of 360-degree views of the city’s Docklands and surrounding areas like Philip Bay and the central business district. At 394 feet tall, the wheel’s website claims it’s the Southern Hemisphere’s only giant observation wheel, although the 541-foot-tall Singapore Flyer also claims it’s an observation wheel.
6. High Roller
Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas is home to the aptly named High Roller, which is currently the world’s tallest observation wheel. Located on the Strip across from Caesars Palace, the 550-foot-tall Ferris wheel holds its own against the twinkle of Las Vegas when it’s illuminated by colorful LED lights after dark. Tickets are available day and night, but obviously opt for a post-sunset ride when Las Vegas really bursts to life.
7. Cosmo Clock 21
This Ferris wheel has long lost its title as the world’s tallest, but it remains the world’s largest clock. The Cosmo Clock 21 prominently features the time at the center of its 369-foot-tall wheel. Located within the Cosmo World amusement park, the wheel offers 15-minute rides over Yokohama, Japan.
8. New York Wheel
New York, New York
While construction has yet to begin, the New York Wheel promises to be a landmark attraction once complete. It’s slated to be the tallest observation wheel in the world when it opens in early 2017. Once spinning, this wheel will measure 630 feet tall over Staten Island and will be able to accommodate up to 1,440 passengers during each 38-minute ride. The New York Wheel is part of a larger redevelopment of the borough and was designed by Starneth, B.V., the same engineering firm behind the London Eye.
Lauren Kilberg is a Chicago-based freelance writer and blogger. Her travels have found her camping near the Pakistani border of India, conquering volcanoes in the Philippines and being humbled in Haiti.