World's Tallest Ferris Wheels

By Emily H. Bratcher, ContributorSept. 13, 2012
By Emily H. Bratcher, ContributorSept. 13, 2012, at 1:11 p.m.
U.S. News & World Report

World's Tallest Ferris Wheels

Do you remember going to carnivals as a kid? You'd buy some sticky cotton candy; you'd win an ugly stuffed animal at the beanbag toss. And when night fell, you'd board the Ferris wheel for a romantic ride with your latest crush. There was nothing quite like it.

But as an adult, cotton candy may seem nauseating and carnival games less than amusing. Ferris wheels, on the other hand, are still in style. World-class cities, like Beijing and Las Vegas, are currently building ones that will rival some of the globe's greatest architectural masterpieces. It looks like this popular fad is on a roll in Asia, which boasts nine of the 10 wheels on this list.

U.S. News Travel has made a list of the world's tallest Ferris wheels. But if you're tempted to ride, here's fair warning: You shouldn't be scared of heights.

How tall: 115 meters (about 377.3 feet)

Of all the Ferris wheels listed, Daikaransha in Tokyo is perhaps the one that looks most like a typical carnival ride. It feels more like one, too: The wheel's capsules are enclosed, but they're very small. Of course, Daikanransha is no ordinary Ferris wheel because it's more than 350 feet tall. From start to finish, a ride on the wheel takes 16 minutes, and you'll view everything from Rainbow Bridge to Tokyo Tower. On a clear day, you might even be able to see the peak of Mount Fuji. The cost for adults is 900 JPY (about $11 USD).

How tall: 117 meters (about 383.8 feet)

The Diamond and Flower Ferris Wheel in Tokyo is named for its brilliant light shows, which are reminiscent of sparkling gems and blossoms. Measuring just over 380 feet tall and 364 feet in diameter, the Diamond and Flower is the second-tallest Ferris wheel ever built in Japan. (The tallest, at 390 feet, was the Sky Dream Fukuoka in Fukuoka, Japan, which closed in 2009. Rumor has it that the Sky Dream is being rebuilt in Taiwan.) The Diamond and Flower's 68 capsules can hold up to six passengers, and the ride takes a total of 17 minutes. On clear days, you might be able to see Mount Fuji and the Boso Peninsula from the top.

How tall: 120 meters (about 393.7 feet)

The Zhengzhou Ferris Wheel was China's first almost-400-foot-high wheel. Since its debut in 2003, several more giants have risen to match its height in the sky. This one features a star shape, which lights up at night.

The Suzhou Ferris Wheel sits along Jinji Lake in China's Jiangsu Province. This Ferris wheel reaches nearly 400 feet into the sky and can carry up to 356 people in its 60 cabins. If you decide to ride, take a look at your ticket: Suzhou Ferris Wheel tickets read, "Let's get high." We're assuming that statement is in regards to the wheel's 394 feet. One revolution takes 20 minutes from start to finish.

The Tianjin Eye, in the eastern Chinese province of Tianjin, is unique for its placement over the top of the Yongle Bridge. This electrically powered wheel holds 48 capsules, which can each fit a maximum of eight people. Each rotation takes 30 minutes, and you should see some of the city's top attractions, like the Ancient Culture Street and Jinwan Square, during the ride.

The Changsha Ferris Wheel, located in southeastern China, is yet another giant wheel, measuring close to 400 feet in height and an expansive 325 feet in diameter. This one opened to the public in 2004. One TripAdvisor user says the best time to ride is after dark.

How tall: 135 meters (about 442.9 feet)

The EDF Energy London Eye seems to cut through Londontown's foggy atmosphere, giving guests an arresting view of everything along the River Thames, including Big Ben. On a clear day, you can even glimpse Windsor Castle, which is 25 miles away. The Eye can hold up to 800 passengers, and each rotation takes about 30 minutes. An adult ticket costs 18.90 GBP (about $30 USD), although you can score a small discount by reserving your ticket in advance on the London Eye's website.

How tall: 160 meters (about 524.9 feet)

The Star of Nanchang, located in China, about halfway between Hong Kong and Shanghai, held the title of world's tallest Ferris wheel for almost two years until 2008. This one features 60 capsules or "gondolas," but these can only hold eight people each. Still, the occupancy limits mean the views of Nanchang during the 30-minute rotation are unobstructed by fellow passengers.

How tall: 165 meters (about 541.3 feet)

Rising just over 540 feet, the Singapore Flyer is the world's tallest operating Ferris wheel. A couple of other, loftier wheels (like the Beijing Great Wheel) are currently under construction, but for now, the Flyer holds the record. Its rotation takes 30 minutes from start to finish, and each of its 28 capsules can contain up to 28 people. (By the way, "28" is a good Feng Shui figure: It means "double prosperity" in Cantonese.) So, even though you'll spend at least 29.50 SGD (about $23.50 USD) to ride, perhaps the experience will somehow bring you back some prosperity.

The Southern Star Observation Wheel in Melbourne, Australia opened in 2008, but shut down a month later due to structural concerns. A new wheel is currently under construction and will rise 120 meters above the ground.

When finished, the 550-foot (about 168 meters) Las Vegas High Roller will stand taller than even the Singapore Flyer. But if Beijing finishes its observation wheel first, Sin City will fall into second place.

When completed, The Great Observation Wheel, Beijing will be the world's tallest Ferris wheel at 208 meters.

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