Merlin in talks to build 425-foot Orlando Eye observation wheel on I-Drive

March 2, 2011, 3:09 PM · Merlin Entertainments confirmed today that it is in "advanced" talks to build a version of the famous London Eye in Orlando.

London Eye
The London Eye

Merlin, which is building Legoland Florida in Winter Haven for a planned October opening, would be a participant in the planned I-Walk Orlando development, slated for the old Mercado location on Orlando's International Drive.

At 425 feet, the Orlando Eye would be a smidge smaller than the London Eye, which stands at 440 feet. The world's largest observation wheel is the Singapore Flyer, which stands 540 feet. The Orlando Eye would be about the same height as the new Peabody Hotel tower. (TPI reader and commentator TH Creative, this is where you jump in with a comment, I believe?)

Circle Entertainment, Inc. and Unicorp are developing the I-Walk Orlando project, which is scheduled to open in 2013. According to a joint press release e-mailed today, they want to bring Merlin on board to provide the observation wheel, as well as possibly a Madame Tussaud's wax museum and another, unnamed indoor attraction for the site.


Replies (14)

March 2, 2011 at 3:19 PM · I really don't get this. In London there are plenty of sights to see. On I Drive what are you going to see, swamps? Sound like a loser idea to me.
March 2, 2011 at 3:49 PM · At that height and position, you should be able to see SeaWorld and Universal Orlando, shouldn't you?
March 2, 2011 at 4:09 PM · Robert, you should be able to, however, from Sea World's Sky Tower you'll see the same views, from about the same height for only about 5-7 dollars. The London Eye charges appx 20 dollars for the ride, I can't imagine the Florida version being much cheaper. I'm not sold.
I'll put it out there. If it opens, it will close within 3 years.
The London Eye has consistently struggled to remain profitable for the owners, at least according to the articles I've read over the last decade.
March 2, 2011 at 5:11 PM · i think the best business analogy here is not SeaWorld's tower (which requires theme park admission), but Downtown Disney's Characters in Flight. That gets you a 400-foot view for $18 ($12 for kids under 10). I think that sets the market price for this sort of thing in Orlando.
March 2, 2011 at 5:16 PM · It was time to bring Madame Tussaud's wax museum to Orlando. To see Seaworld and Universal from the wheel is not very interesting; it's more interesting to see the Disneyworld resort from the Characters in Flight balloon at Downtown Disney.
March 3, 2011 at 4:42 AM · They better have a restroom in those ride vehicles! And some really good, fresh air circulation! As long as it takes to load and unload a traditional Ferris Wheel, riders are going to be cycling on this behemoth for a good long time before they are finally free again!

Might be something you do once, just to say, "I did that".

March 3, 2011 at 5:29 AM · I am curious to see if this actually happens. This is the 2nd time they have announced this project. The first time, it was a huge deal and then nothing. I can hope that it actually happens this time.
March 3, 2011 at 6:16 AM · Stationary observation wheels are the future of entertainment. Not some overpiced tourist trap. Someone should start a company that builds such wheels all arround the world and sell the shares as closed fund through Deutsche bank which will manage to collect 200 million Euro with such a nice sales story and the right incentive, say 10% of the invested sum upfront to Deutsche.

Oh wait, someone already did that.

March 3, 2011 at 9:19 AM · Funny
March 3, 2011 at 10:20 AM · James, the London Eye loads continuously as the cars move through the station area, the loading process features air gates and lasts a matter of seconds, not delaying the wheel's motion. I am sure Orlando's wheel will work the same.
March 3, 2011 at 8:58 PM · Thanks for the info, but how long is the cycle? Long enough to need bathrooms? And what if someone stinks? Ugh! Like being trapped in one of the Finding Nemo subs with a swarm of unwashed teenagers!

I think it would be more fun if the wheel spun continuously and people had to time it just right then...LEAP onto a passing car.

Indiana Jones music could play in the background during the leap!

Still, ride it once, then get back to the theme parks, I say!

March 4, 2011 at 10:59 AM · The London Eye lasts approximately 25 minutes
March 4, 2011 at 12:48 PM · Can you really compare this to the London Eye? It does not have large spacious capsules that hold 25 or more people comfortably or accommodate events such as weddings. It has instead small gondolas with just a few people that move along a circular track on a "chain drive". It does not seem to be in the same class.

March 4, 2011 at 1:10 PM · Great location!

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