In the UK, we love our Ferris wheels almost as much as we enjoy our casino games. In fact, an entire day has been put aside on 14 February to celebrate this entertaining invention – National Ferris Wheel Day. Keep reading to get all the info about this important event and the most famous Ferris wheel rides in the UK. We’ve also gathered a selection of online slots and Slingo games with a big wheel theme that will get you into the spirit of the day. Let’s get spinning!
Most of us have at least one happy memory of riding on a Ferris wheel. They symbolise good times, bravery and excitement, and family and friends. But where exactly did it all start?
In 1890, architect Daniel Burnham was given the job of turning a muddy square mile in Chicago in the USA, into a showpiece that would dazzle visitors to the 1893 Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition. The world was still all agog after the unveiling of the Eiffel Tower in Paris the year before, so Burnham gathered a group of accomplished designers and told them, “Make no little plans!”
One of the team, 33-year-old George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. was the civil engineer in charge of inspecting the steel that would be used at the fair. He soon had the idea to construct a giant revolving wheel of steel. Burnham, however, was not happy at the thought of people being lifted to a greater height than the recently-opened Statue of Liberty by groupings of slender steel rods. But Ferris was inspired by his invention, so he paid out of his own pocket and sourced investors to carry out safety studies and hire additional engineers.
In December 1892, Ferris’s wheel was given the go-ahead. Measuring 250 feet in diameter, it had 36 cars that could carry 60 people 140 feet in the air. Following its launch in June 1893, it was a wild success.
Tragically, Ferris died at age 37 from typhoid. The most famous of all Ferris wheels was sold to the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis then blown up for scrap two years later.
Ferris was born on 14 February 1859; the reason National Ferris Wheel Day is celebrated each year on this date.
To mark Ferris’s legacy, we’re having a look at some of the most famous Ferris wheels in the UK, so strap in and hold on tight!
Since its unveiling in 1999, the London Eye, originally called the Millennium Wheel, has become an iconic feature of the London landscape, and skyline. It stands at 443 feet and was the tallest Ferris wheel in the world until 2006, when the Star of Nanchang was unveiled in China.
The wheel is 394 feet wide and is connected to its hub by 64 cables that look and function similarly to bicycle spokes. This Ferris wheel has 32 passenger cabins (the number 32 was chosen to represent the 32 boroughs (along with the City of London) that make up Greater London). A total of 832 passengers can be accommodated at any given time.
The wheel moves slowly (just two revolutions every hour) but this gives visitors plenty of time to get a bird’s eye view of London and its many attractions.
The seafront observation wheel at Scarborough is 105 feet high and can carry a maximum of 144 passengers with six people seated in each of its 24 enclosed gondolas.
As the largest holiday resort on the Yorkshire coast, Scarborough has, over the years, offered generous entertainment to holidaymakers in the form of traditional carousel rides. Hence, the Ferris wheel, erected on the site of the former Futurist Theatre, was a welcome addition in 2019, giving visitors glorious views of the seaside town.
You’ll find Blackpool’s iconic big wheel on the Central Pier of the Promenade. The Ferris wheel stands 108 feet tall and gives those who have a head for heights, panoramic views of the Golden Mile and Blackpool Tower.
Plans are afoot to construct a new Ferris wheel that will be bigger and taller than the current one. The wheel will be built on Blackpool Central Pier and is set to open in the summer of 2023. It will have partially-closed carriages and the latest technologies will be used to reduce energy consumption.
While some will, no doubt, miss the original wheel (a half-scale version of the Victorian attraction that was part of the Winter Gardens complex a century earlier) that has entertained so many since 1990, many are looking forward to a new and improved era for the much-loved Ferris wheel.
Get into the spirit of National Ferris Wheel Day with these big wheel-inspired casino games:
If you’ve never been on a Ferris wheel before, we hope you’ve been inspired to give it a go. If you’re a fan of the big wheel, we’ve no doubt brought back a few happy memories and you’re raring to book your seat again!
In the meantime, you can find plenty of happy moments and excellent entertainment at Mecca Games. We’re home to the best games, the most fun, and the biggest wins. Whether your bag is Slingo, thrill-a-minute Megaways slots or a variety of online slot games, you’ll find it all on our site. All you need to do is register to start playing!
/ 18 February 2022