The London Eye is announcing an investment of around £12.5 million in upgrading the UK’s number one paid-for visitor attraction, the biggest investment since it opened in 2000. Having already welcomed over 33 million visitors, and with impeccable customer satisfaction feedback, the iconic attraction – which has come to represent London worldwide – is looking to continue this positive track record even further. With this significant investment, the world’s largest cantilevered observation wheel is being further ‘future proofed’ to maintain its position on the Southbank for many years to come.
By removing and upgrading one (of the 32) capsules at a time, this project will improve their functionality, capabilities and longevity and, ultimately, enhance the customer experience. The programme commences this summer to be completed in time for the London 2012 Olympics, and will not interrupt normal operation of the attraction.
As one of the UK’s most iconic landmarks, the London Eye remains committed to investing in domestic tourism at a time when an increasing number of Brits are choosing to holiday on their own shores rather than travel abroad.
Planning for this project began in 2005, following the removal and thorough analysis of a capsule to examine the effects of five years of business and explore what could be done to improve both the experience for visitors and the longevity and reduction in carbon footprint of the London Eye. This significant investment in the future of the London Eye means that no major maintenance works will be necessary on the capsules for the next 15 – 20 years.
A number of upgrades will be made to each capsule in addition to a minor visual facelift. As a direct result of customer feedback, the existing heating and ventilation system (HVAC) will be upgraded to a more efficient, environmentally friendly one. In addition, one of the upgraded capsules will have increased technological functions, which all other capsules will be built to support in the future. The advanced capsule will include four ceiling mounted screens and enhanced multi-media and wi-fi capabilities enabling the capsule to provide music and on-screen visuals.
‘Commenting David Sharpe, Divisional Director of London Midway attractions at Merlin Entertainments Group, owner of the London Eye, said:
‘This investment is a clear demonstration of Merlin Entertainments’, commitment to constantly investing in upgrading our attractions, and to delivering the best possible experience to visitors. This will ensure the London Eye operates at maximum efficiency and is cutting down its carbon footprint well into the future.’
‘Merlin believes that investment is more important than ever in the current economic climate when both local and international visitors to attractions like the London Eye are looking for real value for their leisure pound. Investments like these are also very important in the leisure and tourism industry in the UK as a whole, especially with the Olympics coming to London in 2012’ he continues. ‘It is important to remind people of all the exciting things there are to see and do not only in the capital, but the country as a whole.’
Mayor of London Boris Johnson says ‘Our city has an unrivalled range of unique attractions that draw people from across the world and the much loved London Eye is one of the most recognisable. This investment is fantastic news and underlines the commitment there is to ensuring the capital will be at its best and ready to welcome record numbers of visitors when we host the 2012 Games.’
Sandie Dawe, Acting Chief Executive at VisitBritain comments: ‘We are thrilled to hear of this significant investment from the London Eye, one of the UK’s top attractions, and look forward to seeing the results.
‘This is exactly what we need to help get people excited about our country and what Britain has to offer to both domestic and international visitors. With the Olympics just three years away, this is the kind of investment that we hope to be seeing across the whole country, ’ she continues.
As each capsule is removed, it will travel down the Thames to Silvertown in London’s docklands where it will be loaded onto a truck and transported to a workshop in Worcester to be upgraded before returning to the London Eye. A non-operational capsule will take position on the London Eye until the final capsule is returned. This project will serve to reduce downtime and maintenance on the London Eye though it will continue to close for a short period in January to perform routine maintenance.
The London Eye
At 135m, The London Eye is the world’s largest cantilevered observation wheel. It was conceived and designed by Marks Barfield Architects and has won over 80 awards for national and international tourism, outstanding architectural quality and engineering achievement. Since 2000, it has attracted over 33 million visitors and is owned and operated by the Merlin Entertainments Group.
The Merlin Entertainments Group
The MERLIN ENTERTAINMENTS GROUP is the leading name in location based, family entertainment, which has seen the most successful and dynamic growth of any company in the sector over the last five years. Europe’s No 1 visitor attraction operator, and second largest in the world, Merlin has 58 attractions, 6 hotels and 2 holiday villages in 12 countries, across 3 continents. The company aims to deliver memorable and rewarding experiences to its 35 million visitors worldwide, through its iconic global and local brands, and the commitment and passion of its managers and 13, 500 employees. Merlin Entertainments operates 4 attractions in London – the London Eye, Madame Tussauds London, SEA LIFE London Aquarium and the London Dungeon.
Other Merlin global attractions include: SEA LIFE, Madame Tussauds, LEGOLAND, Dungeons, Gardaland, LEGOLAND Discovery Centers, Alton Towers Resort, Warwick Castle, THORPE PARK, Chessington World of Adventures & Zoo, Heide Park, Underwater Adventures, and Earth Explorer.
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