Dubai is larger than life, so it's fitting that it's home to both the world's tallest building in the Burj Khalifa and the world's largest Ferris wheel, Ain Dubai. Located on Bluewaters Island, a man-made island and Dubai's premier entertainment hub, it only opened in October 2021 and sits at 250 meters (about 820 feet) high.
From the top of the Ain Dubai, you can take in 360-degree views of Dubai's stunning skyscraper-dense skyline from one of the 48 cabins, which can comfortably fit 40 passengers. Each luxe cabin is equipped with floor-to-ceiling windows, air-conditioning, and a cocktail bar or mini lounge, and for an unforgettable night, you can even book a private cabin. A single trip on Ain Dubai takes 38 minutes, which is plenty of time to soak up the vistas.
While Dubai has the world's largest, the Eye of Bohai in Weifang in China's Shandong Province holds the impressive title of the world's largest spokeless Ferris wheel. It opened in 2017 and sits on the Bailang River Bridge. This marvel needs to be seen to be believed. 4600 tons of steel create the kite grid construction system, which allows the 36 carriages to rotate while the Ferris wheel's body remains stationary. One trip on the 145-meter (476-foot) Ferris wheel takes 30 minutes and the cabins are equipped with Wi-Fi and individual television sets, so if the stunning view doesn't meet your expectations, you can catch up on your favorite television shows instead.
If you're not wary of heights, then Ferris wheels might entice you because of the bird's eye views they offer. With 3 million annual visitors, the London Eye is the United Kingdom's most popular paid tourist attraction and perhaps the world's most famous Ferris wheel. It's easy to see why, as from its location in South Bank on the River Thames you can play eye spy and spot many of London's iconic landmarks, such as the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, St. Paul's Cathedral and Buckingham Palace. If you're only in London for a day or two, this is the best way to see all of London's sights.
Known as the world's largest cantilevered observation wheel, the London Eye is 135 meters (443 feet) tall. You may hear it often referred to as the Millennium Wheel since it opened in 2000. This Ferris wheel was London's highest viewpoint until The Shard's observation deck superseded it in 2013. The London Eye hosts many one-of-a-kind experiences in its pods — there are 32 to represent London's 32 boroughs — like the Champagne Experience, where your 360-degree views come complete with a glass of bubbly.
In Vienna, Wiener Riesenrad, or the Viennese Giant Ferris Wheel, is one of the most famous Ferris wheels around the world and is known as the great-grandad of modern-day Ferris wheels. It's been breaking records since its construction in 1897 to honor Emperor Franz Josef I's 50th Jubilee. It's the world's oldest Ferris wheel and held the title of the world's tallest Ferris wheel from 1920 until 1985 before Japan's Technostar stole the crown.
Located in Vienna's popular Prater amusement park — the world's oldest amusement park — Wiener Riesenrad began with 30 gondolas. However, after suffering significant damage during World War II, it was rebuilt with only 15. Today, the unique old-fashioned cabins complement the city's elegant flair. A Vienna trademark, enjoying a historic ride on the 212-foot Riesenrad is a must-do while in Austria's capital.
As far as recognizable Ferris wheels go, The Wonder Wheel has been the iconic symbol of Coney Island since Memorial Day in 1920. Today, it's an official New York City landmark. The 150-foot tall Wonder Wheel is the namesake attraction inside Deno's Wonder Wheel Park and from the top, you can see across to the breathtaking Manhattan skyline. Fun fact: Over 40 million people have ridden the Wonder Wheel in the last century.
It's known as an eccentric Ferris wheel, which means that not all of the passenger cabins are fixed directly to the reel and instead move back and forth slowly between the larger outer wheel and smaller inner wheel. If you want to go for a swing, ask for a red or blue car and enjoy the whimsical ride.
On the other side of the U.S., you'll find Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier in California. With the gorgeous beach as the backdrop, it's one of California's most iconic destinations providing passengers with Pacific Ocean views from 130 feet (40 meters) above the pier. At night, more than 174,000 energy-efficient LED lights display vibrant computer-generated illuminated entertainment.
It's the world's only solar-powered Ferris wheel — the perks of being located in sunny California — and its predecessor was erected in 1996, while this reincarnation popped up in 2008.
Ferris wheels can give you a new perspective of some of the most incredible natural wonders. Niagara SkyWheel is located in the heart of Clifton Hill on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Soaring 175-feet above the eighth wonder of the world, you get a front-row seat of Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, Niagara River and Niagara Parks from the fully-enclosed, climate-controlled gondolas. A single rotation lasts from eight to 12 minutes, and you can choose to take in the sights during the day or soak up the sparkling Clifton Hill lights in Canada after dark.
An integral part of the Yokohama skyline, Cosmo Clock 12 was one of the world's biggest Ferris wheels when it opened to celebrate the 1989 World Fair. It's 369 feet tall and has 60 passenger cars, which can carry up to eight people. One rotation takes 15 minutes, and there is a tablet inside each car that explains the visible landmarks, though Mt Fuji needs no explanation. If you get lucky and visit on a clear day, prepare yourself for how incredible the view is from this famous Ferris wheel.
While you'll want to take in the vistas during the day, come back at night to see the Ferris wheel beautifully illuminated. Every 15 minutes, the 60 spokes become fireworks, flowers and spirals. Here are two fun facts about Cosmos Clock 12: The clock in the middle is the world's largest clock, and it played an essential role in the 1992 film "Godzilla vs. Mothra."
The United Kingdom has the London Eye, and China has the Tianjin Eye. Officially named The Tientsin Eye, the 394-foot-tall (120-meter) Ferris wheel opened in 2008 and is built above the Yongle Bridge over the Hai River in Tianjin. It has 48 passenger capsules that can each hold eight passengers for a 30-minute single rotation.
One of its most appealing features is that passengers in cars crossing the Yongle Bridge and boats cruising along the river often wave to people on the Ferris wheel. You won't find an experience like this anywhere else in the world. And while it appears to be a standard Ferris wheel by day, return at night to see its illuminations dazzling in the reflection of the river below.
The Big O was the world's first centerless Ferris wheel when it opened in 2006 inside Tokyo Dome City, one of the city's amusement parks. It's 200 feet wide though its most fascinating feature as well as undeniable drawcard has to be that Thunder Dolphin, the largest roller coaster in Tokyo, passes through the wheel's center while reaching speeds of up to 81 miles per hour. This ride is truly calling all thrill-seekers!
If you don't get distracted by the roller coaster zipping by, you can have a little party onboard using the touchscreen music playlists and karaoke machines available. It's safe to sing your heart out from the comfort of the glass-walled pods like you're in the shower because no one can hear you. The Big O might just take the title of the world's most fun Ferris wheel experience.
If you get a thrill from conquering great heights, exploring the world's most exciting Ferris wheels is the ultimate adventure. Defy gravity on the tallest Ferris wheel, witness a city from a new perspective, or indulge in nostalgia at a retro amusement park. There's a Ferris wheel for you, no matter what experience you crave.