What do you do if you’re the (very proud) owner of London’s most popular paid-for tourist attraction and one of the UK’s most iconic landmarks and want to celebrate its 10th anniversary in style?
This was the question facing London Eye owners Merlin Entertainments, Europe’s largest operator of visitor attractions and second globally only to Disney. Their answer has been to spend more than £5m on a state of the art 4D cinema experience and then include access in the cost of a standard ticket.
This not only adds value to the attraction for new visitors but, Merlin hopes, offers past visitors a genuinely new reason to treat themselves to a return trip.
Inside the cinema visitors are treated to spectacular flight around the eye from viewpoint of a bird. Set against a soundtrack comprising the work of Coldplay and Goldfrapp, striking images of London are blended with ‘rain’, bubbles, smoke, lights and even the smell of fireworks to create a thrilling experience.
Merlin, who bought the Eye in 2007, are keen to ramp up the public’s awareness of their involvement so the 10th anniversary also sees the attraction becoming The Merlin Entertainments London Eye.
David Sharpe, Divisional Director at Merlin says the attraction’s success and status as one of the group’s top attractions means it makes “perfect sense at this time to underline this by incorporating the Merlin name into our branding.”
The team behind the film and cinema are rightfully pleased with their efforts, preview audiences have enthused about the end product and even the press audiences overcame their usual professional detachment to offer a round of applause.
Julian Napier who directed and the film says the work incorporates “cutting edge cinematic techniques and technology” to create an immersive experience.
The 4D Film Experience is part of a £17m commitment by Merlin which also includes a refitting of the Eye’s capsules
Sharpe says the film “will take our visitor experience at the London Eye to another dimension, and will not only delight first time visitors but also encourage many people to come back and ‘fly’ with us again.”
The London Eye 4D Film Experience opens Wednesday 12th August. For bookings and more information visit: londoneye.com
London Eye Facts
- You can see around 40KM (25 miles) from the top on a clear day, as far as Windsor Castle
- The London Eye welcomes an average of 3.5 million customers every year. You would need 6,680 fully booked Boeing 747-400 jumbo jets to move that number of fliers!
- There are 32 capsules in total, one for each of the London boroughs. For superstitious reasons they are numbered up to 33, with capsule 13 left out for good luck
- The London Eye can carry 800 passengers per rotation – equivalent to 11 London red double-decker buses
- It took seven years and the skills of hundreds of people from five different counties to make London’s icon a reality for both Britons and tourists alike
- The circumference of the wheel is 424m (1.392ft) – meaning that if it were unravelled, it would be 1.75 times longer than the UK’s tallest building – One Canada Square in Canary Wharf
- The total weight of the wheel and capsules is 2,100 tonnes – or as much as 1,272 London black cabs!
- The spindle holds the wheel structure and the hub rotates it around the spindle. At 23 meters tall, the spindle is around the size of a church spire and, together with the hub, weighs in at 330 tonnes: over 20 times heavier than Big Ben