World's Best Ferris Wheels

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10. Navy Pier

Navy Pier on Chicago's Lake Michigan coast (which once harbored fresh-water submarines and WWII carriers) is a great place to begin our countdown. There, close to the site of the first Ferris Wheel, and surrounded by a variety of museums and theatres, proudly stands a majestic white Ferris wheel that represents everything a classic Ferris Wheel ought to be, providing breathtaking views of the city—from the wheel—and vice versa.

9. Singapore Flyer

On February 11, 2008, the 541 ft. (165 m) Singapore Flyer began to rotate and officially commenced its reign as the world's tallest ever Ferris Wheel, only the ninth wheel to hold that title, and its current holder. The modern marvel boasts 28 air-conditioned capsules, accommodating 28 passengers each, with full handicap accessibility, including restrooms, ramps and champagne and cocktail service. The public was first admitted at a ticket price (in Singapore dollars) of $ 8,888 – a lucky Asian number. Later that year, at the urgent behest of feng shui experts, the direction of the wheel's rotation was reversed and it now spins clockwise facing the marina.

8. Santa Monica Pier

Located at the west end of Highway 10 in Los Angeles, at the unofficial finish-line of Route 66 in California, the Santa Monica Pier has been the home of two great Ferris Wheels, beginning in 1996. The original "Pacific Wheel" featured 5,392 light bulbs (2,392 white, 1,500 red and 1,500 blue) and appeared in at least 71 television commercials, 28 films and 13 music videos during it's 12-year run. The wheel was then sold on eBay for $ 132,400 with half of the winning bid being donated to the Special Olympics, with an additional donation of $ 1 per rider on it's last day (4 May, 2008) being given to the Los Angeles chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

7. Big-O

The Big-O Ferris Wheel is part of Tokyo Dome City, a massive, state-of-the-art entertainment and shopping complex in Tokyo, Japan. It is special among world Ferris Wheels for having no center axel, no spokes, and no internal support structure at all. Instead, the wheel is held up by two arrow-shaped side supports that honestly look like pairs of chopsticks. To emphasize this hublessness, a roller coaster track (the Thunder Dolphin, Japan's tallest and fastest) runs directly through the middle of its open 200 ft. rim.

6. Texas Star

The Texas Star in Dallas, Texas, is North America's tallest Ferris Wheel and has been the centerpiece of the Texas State Fair since 1985, when it was built for Texas's sesquicentennial. The 21-stories-high wheel contains 44 gondolas, capable of carrying six each, and requires a operation staff of 18. Prior to 2008, the wheel was illuminated by 16,000 incandescent lights, but like the wheel at Santa Monica, the Texas Star underwent an energy-efficient upgrade and now implements an LED system.

5. Wonder Wheel

It is 150 ft. (46 m) tall, with 24 passenger cars (16 of which move positions and 8 which remain stationary on the wheel) and a total rider capacity of 144. The other notable Ferris Wheel of this variety, a carbon copy essentially, is Mickey's Fun Wheel at Disney's California Adventure in Anaheim, built in 2001.

4. Riesenrad

At the Wurstelprater amusement park in Vienna, Austria, stands a 100-plus-year-old Ferris wheel (one of the first, in fact) that held the title of world's tallest for over sixty of those years. It is called the Wiener Riesenrad (literally, "Viennese Big Wheel") and was built for the 1897 Golden Jubilee of Franz Josef I of Austria, in celebration for his fifty years as Emperor of the Austrian realm. It seems as though one enduringly majestic figure deserved another.

3. Cosmo Clock 21

Cosmo Clock 21 is an enormous Ferris Wheel clock in Yokohama, Japan, that, at 353 ft. (107 m), was the world's tallest Ferris Wheel for eight years, from it's construction in 1989 (for the '89 Yokohama Exposition) to 1997, and has been the world's largest clock from 1989 to the present. The wheel, or clock, is the crowning jewel of Minato Mirai 21 (literally, "Future Harbor 21"), the downtown seaside district of Yokohama.

2. London Eye

Presently the third tallest Ferris Wheel in the world, at 443 ft. (135 m), and the largest in the western hemisphere, is the renowned London Eye on the Thames, which is a masterpiece for several reasons. The wheel moves slowly, at about 0.6 mph; slow enough for passengers to board and disembark at ground level without the wheel stopping. One full rotation takes about 30 minutes, with about 8,000 rotations being made in one year, carrying more than 10,000 passengers a day, and more than 3 million annually. One adult ticket costs £14.50.

1. Tianjin Eye

The Tianjin Eye is a 390 ft. (120 m) tall Ferris Wheel built on a bridge that crosses the Hai River in Tianjin, China. Constructed in 2007, the Tianjin Eye is the only Ferris Wheel in the world, and in history, to stand on a bridge. Instantly recognizable, it is supported by huge upside-down "Y" buttresses and at night is gloriously bathed in fluorescent two-tone colors (gold and pink, for example, or turquoise and lime), the reflection of which is even prettier. Elegant and yet, accommodating up to 770 passengers per hour in 48 capsules, she belongs to the same heavyweight class as London Eye and Cosmo Clock. Creating something so dizzyingly enormous, and at the same time so attractive, is a feat worthy of much admiration.

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World's Best Ferris Wheels

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