24 October 2012

Singapore Flyer: A Giant Observation Wheel

The Singapore Flyer is an amazing feat of technology made of 1800 tonnes of steel. Standing at 165m tall and 20m taller than the London Eye, the observation wheel opened to the public in April 2008 and within three months it had sold 1 million tickets.

It is currently the biggest observation wheel in the world with tremendous views of Singapore’s major landmarks such as Marina Bay Sands, recently opened Gardens by the Bay, the Esplanade Theatres, magnificent Fullerton Hotel, across the Strait of Singapore with views of Bintan and Batam Islands, Indonesia and on a clear day neighbouring Malaysia.

View of Marina Bay with CBD in the background and
Marina Bay Sands towering to the left.

The striking Millenia Tower with the brightly lit pyramidal roof.

The Flyer’s design was inspired by the London Eye and Eiffel Tower, consisting of 28 fully air-conditioned and UV protected capsules. At maximum capacity the Flyer can carry 784 passengers. Clever boarding design means the Flyer never stops rotating. With a “step on platform” on either side of the capsule, as the Flyer rotates new visitors enter on one side, whilst those on-board exit on the opposite end.

Whilst each rotation takes half an hour, the ride is smooth regardless of wind conditions or altitude height. It doesn’t feel like it’s moving and at certain vantage points it doesn’t even look as if it’s moving. The smooth ride is largely due to the fixed capsules on the single A-frame as opposed to the traditionally open-air ferris wheels which are supported by two towers on either side of the axles.

Ticketing options abound, ranging from the basic ticket which includes one half hour rotation with the general public, to cocktail flights (mocktails for kids) including half hour rotation, souvenir glass per guest and express check-in to themed capsules. For that really special occasion the visitor may consider either a High Tea half hour flight or go all the way with a full butler service, 4 courses dining on a one hour rotation. If that is still not enough there is always the private capsule option.

Souvenir glasses from our Cocktail Flight.

The Singapore Flyer is certainly an experience to be had. Along with another couple and our 4 year sold daughter we enjoyed a Cocktail Flight in the evening. Not fond of heights I was game to give this a go. My desire to view the city from the top was greater than my issues with heights. Any discomfort I would usually encounter was alleviated due to the Flyer’s smooth rotation and large capsule (4m x 7m). The bench in the centre of the capsule gave us a resting place and it could perhaps aid those with fears of heights. The brilliantly designed glass encased capsule provided my daughter with the same viewing opportunities as the adults and saved her daddy’s arms from having to lift her to our eye level in order to see.

A fun experience, which should be done at least once, the Flyer is highly recommended. We’ll return for sure perhaps during the day or on another themed flight.

Having experienced the Marina Bay Observation Deck on the 56th floor, 1Altitute Gallery & Bar on the 64th floor and now the Singapore Flyer, I have feasted on Singapore’s skyline from three very different angles, each one magnificent in their own way.