Before our recent weekend trip to London, we spent a long time weighing up where we would go on the Sunday for our family sightseeing day. The problem with London is that while there's a whole host of places to go to and plenty to amuse a four year old child, it's difficult to find one suitable in unpredictable weather.
In the end the one place which had been prodding me in the arm the whole time, poked a little harder and I finally sat up and took notice.
I'd forgotten how peaceful it is 443 feet above the streets of London.
We first took The Boy on the London Eye last year and he was besotted even at the tender age of three. This year his spatial awareness and general understanding of the world he lives in has developed, along with his general knowledge, and so spending half an hour spotting the places he'd visited the previous day with his daddy was far easier and more meaningful.
"Mummy, I'm trying to spot the soldier at Buckingham Palace. That's where the Queen lives, you know. The flag is flying today which means she's home."
Visiting the London Eye is easy, especially when it's booked in advance over the Internet via a site like Superbreak, and tickets are picked up in the central ticket office. This runs alongside the main courtyard leading up to the Eye, lined peacefully with trees and provides a large area to queue on one of the busiest days over the Summer season. Luckily, we went on a Sunday morning when most of London is still thinking about breakfast, and the half an hour queue was relatively short and moved steadily, one of the benefits of the Eye never actually stopping.
The vista from the Eye is amazing, and it has to be experienced to understand just how impressive it is. Buildings which are miles away can be seen easily from 135 metres up in the air, people look like ants, the sealed pods hide the noise and chaos of the streets below and allow the beauty of London to be seen as it should be.
Included in the price of the ticket is entry into the 4D film 'experience' and it is a must. It's described as a pre-flight show, presumably once tickets have been picked up from the office, however I think it's actually better after the flight on the Eye as it provides context for children. The effects are brilliant and I wasn't sure whether the bubbles we were trying to catch were real or if the snow falling was; it shows off the wonders of 3D films brilliantly and is the best use of a fourth aspect in 4D films.
- pushchairs must be folded down due to space restrictions, do this in the queue as the attendants won't let you on with it up;
- take water because although the pods are air conditioned, it does get warm in there;
- buy one of the £1 360° maps which help you find the various sites around London with the Eye as the centre;
- bags will be checked, a metal detector will be waved around your body. All very discreet and unthreatening;
- make sure you look at the views on all sides of the pod, the Shard and Waterloo Station train tracks are particularly impressive;
- do visit the 4D film experience which is included in the price of the ticket, but don't be conned into posing for the green-screen photo before entering the cinema, they're not free.
Tickets to the London Eye are available directly from the website, however there are a variety of packages available that include entrance into the attraction and a hotel stay as well. Since the cost of hotels in London alone is extortionate, it is well worth investigating London breaks available with someone like Superbreak.
I received free admission tickets onto the London Eye for two adults and one child. My opinion is honest and unbiased.