Engineers have been intriguing the world with Ferris wheels since the late 1800s, originally dreamed up by a guy with the last name of Ferris, of course. While the very first from Chicago no longer stands, destinations from Austria to Dubai, now hold some of the most captivating renditions. Forget bench seats and dangling legs, these marvelous contraptions feature fully enclosed vessels that are carried hundreds of feet into the sky. These are the best Ferris wheels in the world.
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Big O in Japan
With a roller coaster roaring through its open center, the Big O in a Tokyo, Japan theme park defied gravity and records when it went into operation in the early 2000s. Almost like an optical illusion, the tech-y wheel appears to be rotating in mid-air. The city below can be clearly viewed from the panoramic glass gondolas, and touch screens allow you to select from a variation of Japanese tunes.
Niagara SkyWheel in Canada
Did you know you could view Niagara Falls from somewhere other than an overlook or sopping wet boat? On the Canada side of the falls resides the Niagara SkyWheel, which may not compare to others height-wise, as it measures up at 175 feet, but is the largest wheel in Canada. Viewing the monstrous cascade from the air-conditioned gondolas is more visually rewarding than one could imagine, as you can take in the entire spectacle at once.
Eye of the Emirates in Sharjah
Eye of the Emirates, a wheel that towers 200 feet into the sky, has recently relocated from one Sharjah location to another in the same city, known as Al Montazah Parks. Designed to be a tourist haven, the new location offers views of water parks and amusement rides, in addition to a drove of diverse and well-known markets. Dubai’s top attractions are mere minutes away, making the Eye a cool detour.
Melbourne Star in Australia
If you thought our last one was tall, wait until you get a load of the 393-foot wheel in the Docklands of Melbourne. Australia’s Melbourne Star, in fact, does have a beautifully illuminated star center, and comfortable observation gondolas which funnel information about the city to passengers throughout the half-hour ride. Grab a coffee from the cafe before boarding, and have the most spectacular views while sipping and relaxing. A small gift shop with a pretty neat LEGO replica of the wheel is part of the experience.
Wiener Riesenrad in Austria
Wiener Riesenrad, in Vienna, Austria, is the oldest Ferris wheel in the world, dating back to 1897. Back in the day, the intricately constructed, 212-foot metal giant was the tallest in the world. The red wooden carts set it apart from others anywhere on the planet, and you can have a full meal while riding, making for continually changing views. You may also see Wiener Riesenrad referred to by its English translated name, Vienna Giant Wheel.
HEP Five in Japan
HEP Five in Osaka looks genuinely intimidating, with its countless branches of red metal sprawling outward to cling to 52 enclosed capsules. Protruding from a massive mall with shopping, dining and other amusement, the wheel can be boarded on the 7th floor.
Cosmo Clock 21 in Japan
It does seem like many of our favorites reside in Japan. They do a phenomenal job delivering popping, mesmerizing attractions and structures. Cosmo Clock 21 is set within a Yokohama amusement park and can carry up to eight people in each of its 60 small gondolas. At nearly 400 feet, passengers can see beyond Yokohama Bay, and on clear days, possibly all the way to Mount Fuji and Shinjuku. Two completely clear cabins are available, while the others come in a variation of colors with large windows. Wheelchair accessible units are purple.
Singapore Flyer in Singapore
Standing at a staggering 541 feet, the Singapore Flyer is like a luxury hotel from the future. Each capsule is enormous and can even house special events, but if you’re feeling low key you could just go with the butler service. Stunning views of the South China Sea and surrounding city make this the ultimate place to snap your photos. Sunset is a particularly stunning time to ride.
London Eye in England
Iconic, and a technological masterpiece, the London Eye is about as cool as it gets and is a top attraction in London. A part of the famous London landscape for nearly 20 years, the gondolas are more like individual observation decks, as they can spaciously house up to 25 people on its 30-minute rotations. There are 32 cabins, or rather bubbles, that each has optimal viewing angles from the transparent shell.
Tianjin Eye in China
Tianjin Eye is in Hebei China, and straddles the Hai River, creating a pretty awesome bridge accent. It’s fun to watch the boats chug underneath as you make the 30-minute trip around, but it can be equally as stunning to view the wheel from the boat!
Eurowheel in Italy
With much simpler, yet still enclosed, gondolas, Emilia-Romagna, Italy is home to the Eurowheel. Don’t let the old school vibes fool you—this is still one of the tallest in Europe, and possibly the brightest in the world with its 50,000 bulb lights that twinkle in the night. Nearby Ravenna cannot be seen from a better spot.
Amber Sky in Poland
Amber Sky in Gdańska, Poland overlooks the historic city and complex, age-old architecture. Shipyards and water views add to the scenery, which is amazing both day or night. You’ll have about 15 minutes to soak it all in, but you might decide to purchase another round as the views are so unique and rich with the past.
High Roller in America
High Roller in Las Vegas is the world’s tallest Ferris wheel at 550 feet, obviously securing its title as one of the best in the world. Only the outer edges of the wheel are lit up, creating the illusion of a lone circle floating in the sky. Sleek orbs carry passengers far into the sky, for the ultimate view of the sparkling strip. This may be the best way to see the top sites in Las Vegas.