Tag: ferris wheel

Event Planning, Fun Story, funfair events, Funfair Rides

“Work From Home…If You Can”

23 May 2021

‘Work from home if you can’, has been the echoing call, since the first lock down in march. The call from Boris Johnson and his team.

Due to the current pandemic many businesses have been closed and working from home has been of paramount importance. With many people turning rooms in their homes, or escaping to the garage to put together a make shift office.

One you probably wouldn’t think of is a work from theme park set up. In Japan they have announced a new initiative in order to encourage working from home. The initiative being to utilize their theme parks. A large theme park in Tokyo is offering ‘workcation’ packages. Giving employees across Japan the opportunity to work next to a beautiful pool or even on a Ferris wheel! yes that’s right you can work from a Ferris wheel.

The park charges 1,900 yen which is roughly around £14 for a weeks ticket pass. The pass includes a booth located at the pool and an hour in a private carriage on the Ferris Wheel. WIFI services are located throughout ready for you to connect your laptop or tablet to.

The Yomiuriland theme park

Japans, Work From Home Management

Japan, although a large country has managed the pandemic very well and is currently near normality with the rest of the theme park also open, which means that after a hard days work you can pay a little bit extra and purchase a park ticket allowing you to chill and unwind on all the fairground rides available…although remember you cant scream on the scary rides because that is against the covid rules.

Japan has primarily moved their businesses to being based at home. The government requested companies to have around 70% of their employees working from home. With this in mind they have been coming up with new inventive ways to encourage staff to take this option, Firstly they introduced the Theme park scheme, and then secondly they placed workstatiosn around National parks that people could rent and visit in a hope that people would reconnect with nature.

An  IT solutions firm FLEQ was among one of the first companies to encourage employees to work from the theme park. In the first week around 10 employees used the amusement park as their new office. Feedback from the employees was all very positive! however some said it was hard to concentrate at first as once on the Ferris wheel they just wanted to admire the view!.

An employee working from inside the Ferris Wheel carriage.
Event Planning, funfair events, Funfair Rides

6 Tips For Hiring A Ferris Wheel

24 March 2021

A Ferris wheel is one of those iconic funfair rides that everyone remembers. They not only make regular appearances at funfairs up and down the country, but you can also hire them for private events. Here are 6 tips for hiring a Ferris wheel to make sure you get the best for your money.

1 What Size Wheel

There are two basic wheels you will see in the UK. What we tend to term a traditional wheel, which in actual fact is more than likely to be American in origin, more specifically from the Eli Bridge company of Jacksonville Illinois.

This is the type of wheel that was in the final scene of Grease, the movie. They are also what you most probably rode as a child, and they are what is usually hired for private events.

Ferris Wheel Hire
Ferris Wheel Hire

The other big wheel type, is big, really big. They have been christened Continental Wheels in the UK, but are generally referred to as giant wheels on the continent. They come in a multitude of sizes, the travelling models tending to be 50-60 metres in height, with some fixed models of 100m up over. These can be hired privately, however keep in mind that a typical 50m wheel would come on 5-6 trailers, with each one being towed by a vehicle averaging perhaps 6-7 MPG. They would take a number of days to set up and similar to take back down, using a crew of perhaps 6-8 staff members. So unless you are Elon Musk or the likes, you aren’t going to hire one for a 5 year olds birthday party in your back garden.

Giant Continental Wheel
Giant Continental Wheel

2 Where Will The Wheel Be Built

We will proceed under the assumption that you aren’t Elon Musk and wish to hire the smaller Eli Bridge type wheel. For the other type, much of what we advise is equally valid, but you would need a specialist survey to ensure the ground can take the weight and stress of a true giant wheel.

Ideally a perfectly flat tarmac or concrete surface such as a car park is what we like for a wheel. Realistically, this isn’t always possible. Grass is fine, as long as it isn’t too soft. This is more for the vehicles carrying the ride rather than an issue with the ride. A wheel is a stable structure, well balanced and with large outriggers to prevent it tilting. Getting it into position on extremely soft ground is where the problems arrive. We carry wooden boards to drive on across soft ground, and if you need us 50 or 60ft across a field its not an issue. If you want us half a mile across a swamp it isn’t going to happen.


The other issue people seem to be oblivious to, is actually having an entrance large enough to drive the ride through. We have turned up on site visits many a time, to find out that although there is a 300 acre field available, the only access is through a gate 4ft wide, or around a sharp bend that you would be lucky to manage with a classic mini without a couple of shunts. Imagine the large vehicles you see on the motorway, then widen it a foot and add perhaps 10ft on the end. That will give you an idea of how long a typical ride is.

If in doubt ask about a site visit. There may be a small charge, but a decent operator will waive this if you end up booking.

3 Ensure It Carries The Correct Documentation

Thankfully, with the funfair industry being so highly regulated, the cowboys have pretty much been forced out. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still undertake due diligence when hiring attractions. Circumstances can conspire to create a situation where someone may cut corners, be it down to greed, or desperation. The best way to ensure your safety, is to make sure your chosen operator can actually supply a full set of safety documentation. The following list are all legally required documents, if they can’t provide any of them, run away, quickly:

  • Public Liability Insurance (Self Explanatory)
  • Risk Assessments (To how the ride has been assessed to ascertain what risks exist)
  • Fire Assessments (Like the Risk assessment, but looking for fire based issues)
  • Method Statements (A document showing what has been put in place to mitigate the risks identified)
  • ADIPS Certificate (Much like an MOT, showing the ride has been tested by an independent engineer for safety)
  • Daily Inspection Record (To show that each day the ride is operated it has been checked by the operator)


One the mentioned documents, the ADIPS cert bears a little more explaining. Each ride has to undergo an annual inspection to ensure it is safe to operate. This includes electrical and mechanical safety, and may well include non destructive testing such as x-rays or dye penetration inspections to check for metal fatigue and cracking. A certificate is issued once the ride is passed as safe. This has all the relevant information about the ride. It also has two important things to look out for. One is the ADIPS inspection number, If you visit their website, you can actually input this number to ensure the document is correct and up to date.

The other is the photograph in the top right hand of the document. This should match the ride you have hired. If it doesn’t it could mean that the ride you have hired isn’t covered by that document. A big no no.

Adip 2021
Adip 2021

Above is an example of what the DOC looks like, you can see the image in the top right hand corner, directly below this image will be the DOC number.

4 Ask For Photos Of What You Are Hiring

There are some absolutely immaculate wheels on the hire market. There are sadly a few poor examples, and the majority are comfortably in the middle, quite presentable rather than exceptional.

You are certainly entitled to ask for a photo of what the operator is proposing to hire to you. Beware of tiny thumbnails that show no details, and ask for how old the photos are. Something immaculate 20 years ago could look very different now.

Any professional operator wants his client to be happy. A successful job isn’t just one where they earn money, its one where the client is happy and will use them again.

pexels wendelin jacober-1411445 (1)
pexels wendelin jacober-1411445 (1)

Take a look at the wheel above, this can quite accurately be described to you as one hot wheel without telling any lies. Thing is, it’s hot, not because it’s a fabulous wheel, but because it was in the vicinity of Chernobyl when the nuclear reactor exploded. So don’t trust to descriptions alone, unless it is someone you have worked with before and trust.

5 Ensure The Quote You Have Includes Everything

Although we haven’t really heard of it happening with wheels. A favourite tactic of one competitor when offering dodgems for hire, was to quote a price roughly halve of everyone else’s. When your ride turned up, it didn’t have lights or music. There was no top cover so it wouldn’t work it it rained, and you only got 4 cars. They would inform you that the ride supplied was exactly what you had paid for. If you wanted all the additional extras and the more usual 14 cars, then they were extra. Your choice at that point was to pay what could end up being more than you had been quoted from other operators for the same service, or put up with half a ride.

Most companies quote within a narrow price band. If something is exceptionally cheap it is for a reason, and not usually a good one.

Another Cowboy

Another cowboy we came across had an ingenious scheme. He would quote a price about 40% less than anyone else. To secure it you had to pay an immediate £500 NON REFUNDABLE deposit. The day before your event, you would receive a phone call informing you that sadly, the ride you had booked had been destroyed by fire/stolen/kidnapped by space aliens. But not to worry, they had a couple of children’s roundabouts they could bring you. When you complained the event wasn’t for kids and you were cancelling, they were happy to let you do that. Of course the deposit was non refundable.

Cowboy Operator
Cowboy Operator

Is it legal? Hmm, probably not, getting you money back by going to court probably outweighs the £500. If you give the guy too much hassle he had the option of refunding your money to stop the case. He kept far more than he lost though.

6 If You Have Any Unusual Requirements, Agree Them Beforehand

Do you want only Max Bygraves records playing on the ride. Or the lights switched off for some reason. Perhaps you want your pet donkey to be allowed to ride. Talk the to supplier and make sure this is possible, before the day of the event. It isn’t fair complaining that they had none of Mr Bygraves songs to play, if they were totally unaware that you were a fan.

Most reasonable requests we are happy to comply with. We enjoy a bit of fun, and want you to be happy. (Not sure about letting the donkey ride though). But be aware of the fact that we will not, compromise safety to please you. No amount of offering to sign waivers will make any difference, (and for the record, judges tend not to view the practice very kindly, their take is that the fact we had a waiver signed meant we knew it was unsafe to do), we want the job, and we want you to be happy with it, but not at the risk of hurting or killing someone.

If you want any more info on the ins and outs of hiring a Ferris wheel, drop us an email, or pick the phone up, we are quite happy to talk to you about it without obligation.

Event Planning, Fun Story, funfair events, Funfair Rides, General

Eli Bridge, A Manufacturer Profile

28 February 2021
Spider Mania

Next up in our ongoing series of amusement ride manufacturer profiles, is the long established American company of Eli Bridge.

The founder W.E. Sullivan visited the original Ferris Wheel at the Columbian Exposition in 1893. He (like George Washington Gale Ferris) owned a bridge building company. After his ride he became fascinated by the ride and decided to build one of his own. In collaboration with the machinist James H Clements they began construction of their own wheel.

This debuted in Jacksonville’s Central Park and was called the Big Eli Wheel. The ride was a success and Sullivan set up a company to manufacture his wheels.

Their first wheels were powered by 6h.p. huber steam engines and came in two sizes, 45ft portable models and 50ft park based designs. There was also a 55ft ‘Aristocrat’ model.

Early Ferris Wheel
Early Ferris Wheel

The company was originally located in Roodhouse, Illinois, next to a railway track, allowing for easy distribution around the country. In 1919 a new purpose built building was erected in Jacksonville, also next to the railroad. The company has been there ever since. It’s 76,000 sq ft facility contains a room tall enough to erect a big wheel in.

Rim Drive Wheel
Rim Drive Wheel

Modern Eli Bridge Wheels

The company still produces wheels to this day. A modern Eli Bridge, is, truth told, little changed from the earlier models. Sure, there is no doubt the construction will use moderner materials and methods. But the look and feel of the ride definitely contains the same DNA. That isn’t meant as a criticism. The fact is the early formula worked well, and still works well, so why change it?

One major change is the drive system. For generations, the wheel used a wire rope, that passed through a pulley which was rotated by an electric motor. The system worked fine, and still does as hundreds of wheels around the world continue its use. It did however have a couple of disadvantages. The rope gradually stretched, and as it did the drive began to slip. Murphy’s law would dictate this happened just as you got busy. The other failure was when the rope snapped. A sensible operator would keep a spare, and could change it relatively quickly, but it is still inconvenient and would lose you revenue.

Ferris Wheel Wire Drive
Ferris Wheel Wire Drive

Rim Drive

To counter the wire rope issues, the company has now switched to rim drive systems. This works by attaching a flat rim to one side of the ride. An electrically driven wheel would contact the rim and as it rotated, would rotate the ride. No slipping or snapping and a much more precise regulation of the speed available from a modern inverter driven control system.

Rim Drive
Rim Drive

Scrambler A New Chapter

1955 brought a new chapter for the company, with the launch of its Scrambler ride, the first non wheel addition to its portfolio. Known over here as a ‘Twist’ the ride took the American amusement industry by storm, and is still prevalent at funfairs around the world today, albeit in many versions from many different manufacturers.

Eli Bridge Twist
Eli Bridge Twist

Other Products

They also sell a couple of children’s rides, including the quirky Spider Mania, to which I can’t really find a comparable ride in the UK.

Spider Mania
Spider Mania

A line of fire pits for camping expeditions and Boy Scout troops round off the companies product list.

. One quirky fact is that the word Bridge was deliberately left in the company name, so that they could still build bridges, their original business model. Though records indicate that since they started selling wheels, they have only actually built one bridge.

Check out our profile of Fabbri the Italian manufacturer.

Event Planning, Fun Story, Funfair Rides

The 14 Best Ferris Wheels, The Iconic Funfair Ride

23 January 2021

Few of the funfair rides you see today are as iconic as Ferris Wheels, or Big Wheels as they are also known.

Taking its name from the wheel built for the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, 1893 by George Washington Gale Ferris. Though William Somers installed three fifty foot wooden wheels in 1892 so perhaps they should be called Somers Wheels.

Then again Pietro Della Valle, a Roman traveller wrote of riding a Great Wheel in Constantinople in 1615, so should they be Constantinople wheels or Della Valle Wheels?

Whoever deserves the naming rights, it was George that actually ended up adding his name to one the enduring legacies of the funfair industry.

Lets take a look at some of the weird and wonderful wheels around the world.

The Original Ferris Wheel

The Original 'Ferris Wheel' The grandaddy that gave its name to all the others.
The Original ‘Ferris Wheel’ The grandaddy that gave its name to all the others.

The original ‘Ferris’ wheel pictured here was 80.4 metres high, 264ft if you are sticking to olde measures, not sure how many cubits that is if you are even older than Imperial measurements. It was intended to rival the Eiffel Tower which had formed the centre piece of the Paris Exposition. The axle weighing 71 tonne was the world’s largest forging at that time, and the ride had a carrying capacity of 2160 people, unrivalled today Indeed the world’s biggest wheel the Vegas High Roller managing a little over half that.

The Vegas High Roller

Currently The World's Highest Wheel, The Vegas High Roller
Currently The World’s Highest Wheel, The Vegas High Roller

Currently the world’s highest wheel is the Vegas High Roller. At 550ft (158.5 metres, 366.67 cubits) high, this beats the Singapore Flyer by a scant 9ft. Rotating on two custom designed spherical bearings each weighing just under 9 tonnes. The passenger cabins are electrically rotated to maintain a smooth level ride and each weighs 20 tonnes. A wheel currently being built in Dubai should claim the crown as world’s tallest wheel if it ever opens, currently construction is 5 years behind schedule.

The Vienna Riesenrad

The Vienna Riesenrad, The world's oldest operating Ferris wheel.
The Vienna Riesenrad, The world’s oldest operating wheel.

Located inside the Vienna Prater (the world’s oldest amusement park), the Riesenrad was constructed in 1897. This has unique old fashioned cabins, one of which can be hired complete with dining and a champagne meal.

It was designed by Harry Hitchins and Hubert Cecil Booth, a pair of British engineers, and constructed by Lieutenant Walter Bassett Bassett an English engineer. to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Emperor Franz Josef I. At 212ft high it is nowhere near the ‘big’ wheels out there, but it adds a touch of class all its own.

The Tianjin Eye Observation Wheel

The Tianjin Eye.
The Tianjin Eye, CC BY-SA 2.0

Also called the Tientsin Eye, this is a mid height wheel at 394ft, what makes it unusual, is that it is the only major wheel actually built on a bridge, in this case the Yongle Bridge, over the Hai River in Tianjin China.

The Osaka Wheel

The Osaka Ferris Wheel
The Osaka Wheel

This is an oddball in the wheel world. Rather than being round it is an oval shape. The main structure doesn’t move rather the cars move around a track.

The Big O

The Big O Wheel
The Big O Wheel

Situated in the Tokyo Dome City, Japan. This is not only the world’s largest centreless wheel at 200ft high (it has an actual roller coaster built through the middle), it also has a number of cars with karaoke machines fitted. We are not actually convinced that being stuck on a ride for 30 minutes with someone singing badly is a great move.

Baseball Ferris Wheels

The Baseball Wheel
The Baseball Wheel

Not particularly large, but certainly novel. Built in Comerica park, downtown Detroit. The location of the Detroit Tigers Major League Baseball Team.

The Waggon Wheel

The Waggon Wheel
The Waggon Wheel

No, not a biscuit, though legend has it that the biscuit was a similar size before inflation kicked in. This is located in Flamingo Land Amusement park here in the UK. Themed around the iconic plains wagons of old America. YeeeHaaa

The Golden Reel Figure 8

The Golden Reel Figure 8 Wheel
The Golden Reel Figure 8 Wheel

Located in Macau, this is one of the highest wheels in the world. Not due solely to its size, but to the fact that it is actually built to join two hotels together. You board on the 23rd floor, and what makes it even more unique is that fact that it is a figure 8 wheel, having 2 loops does that make it Ferris Wheels?

Royal Tyres Wheel

The Royal Tyres Ferris Wheel
The Royal Tyres Ferris Wheel

The Uniroyal giant tyre wheel created for the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Now located in Michigan this 80ft high wheel was designed by the same firm responsible for the Empire State Building, Shreve, Lamb & Harmon. Driven by a 100hp engine the wheel carries 96 passengers.

John Kormeling Wheel

Drive In Ferris Wheels
Drive In Ferris Wheel

Created by the artist John Kormeling, this is one wacky wheel. Instead of gondolas for the passengers, it has flat structures that you actually park you car on, yes, you don’t even have to leave your car to ride this wheel.

The Priyat Big Wheel

The Priyat Wheel

This wheel isn’t particularly tall, or have any unusual features. Oh, except for being quite close to a major nuclear disaster. The wheel is virtually brand new having hardly been used before Chernobyl went tits up. It isn’t one we would recommend visiting, although there are actually companies now running tours to the area around Chernobyl.

Eccentric Wheel

An Eccentric Wheel
An Eccentric Wheel

These are an uncommon version of the wheel. Instead of the cars being suspended on axles at the ends of the arms, they travel on a track that zig zags inside the main structure, so they slide towards the centre of the wheel then away from it. There was one built in 1920 at Coney Island, and another at one of the Disney parks.

Underground Ferris Wheels

Underground Ferris Wheels
Underground Ferris Wheel

A mere 65ft high and only 6 cars would make this a pretty poor example for Ferris Wheels. Until you consider it is actually underground inside a giant salt mine. Located in Turda, Romania, the mine dates back to the 13th century and is 368ft beneath below ground. I guess that technically makes this the world’s lowest wheel!

Event Planning, funfair events, Funfair Rides

Hiring A Ferris Wheel

17 November 2020

Few rides are more iconic than the traditional Ferris Wheel, or big wheel as they tend to be called in the UK. But Hiring A Ferris wheel has a number of choices available.

The name derives from the wheel designed by George Washington Gale Ferris Jnr for the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. There is some argument over this being the ‘original’ wheel as a certain William Somers installed 3 wooden wheels in parks in New Jersey and New York, a year earlier. A court case ensued which Somers lost, as it was ruled the Ferris wheel was sufficiently different to not infringe on his patent.

There are accounts from travelling merchants describing wheels in the Ottoman empire in the 17th century, so perhaps the real name should be ‘Ottoman Wheels!’

Whatever the true origins, big wheel hire is one of those traditional fairground rides that people associate with a funfair. Most of us will have ridden a wheel in our youth. Along with helter skelters, swing boats, dodgems and a carousel.

Wheel Sizes

The traditional type wheel is usually around 35ft in height with perhaps 16-20 cars. There are however even larger versions now available. These originally appeared on the continent, and were variously termed giant wheels, observation wheels or continental wheels. They tended initially to be erected in city centres or at theme parks and didn’t travel. Reaching huge heights, they were never really going to be practical to take to corporate events. Or smaller fairgrounds. A new breed of portable wheels have appeared that bridge the gap between the smaller UK wheels and the giant versions.

Whatever type or size you need we can supply and install a wheel to suit your event. Check us out for Hiring A Ferris Wheel.