The Mystery of the Ferris Wheel

As always, I did lots of research prior to my trip to Beijing, because this time I was combining business with pleasure. After my week-long training ended, my husband and daughter flew out and we planned to see all that Beijing had to offer. So imagine my surprise when we went to the Temple of Heaven and off in the distance I saw a gigantic ferris wheel that I hadn’t read anything about.

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My daughter would love that! I thought. So we rushed back to the hotel to find out more about it, and that’s when our hopes were dashed. The ferris wheel was never completed. It just sat there, teasing us. It was like being at Disney World and never leaving the parking lot.

Maybe literally.

If we were looking at The Beijing Great Wheel, it would have been grand, indeed. At 208 meters tall (2008 with one 0 removed), it would have been taller than the London Eye and the Singapore Flyer. It was to have opened a week before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but the developers went into bankruptcy and the wheel was never finished.

But though I found this information on the internet, I could not find any pictures of it other than models. Surely someone else has taken pictures of this gigantic ferris wheel. Instead I looked up amusement parks and found that there is one in Beijing that was being fined for using Disney characters without permission. They had a Sleeping Beauty castle that looks very similiar to Cinderella’s castle in Florida. Apparently, Hello Kitty, Dora and Bugs Bunny roam around the park without permission, too.

I'm pretty sure this character didn't have permission to wear this costume, either. She was begging for money.

I’m pretty sure this character didn’t have permission to wear this costume, either. She was begging for money.

I can only assume that the ferris wheel I saw was part of this park, not the magnificent Great Wheel that was never finished. Or maybe it was all a mirage. Maybe no one else knows it exists because usually you can’t see through the smog.

Whichever it was, we didn’t take a spin on the wheel. We decided to save the Disney World thrills for Florida and spend our time in China seeing things can only be seen in China. Like the Olympic stadiums that were completed.

15 responses to “The Mystery of the Ferris Wheel

  1. Isn’t it crazy when you can’t find a straight answer about something online? You weren’t kidding when you called it mysterious. I love the way ferris wheels look in any skyline though. If I had it my way, I’d put one in every city in the world.

    • It is crazy, and ferris wheels are beautiful. I really do think this is the Great Wheel that they were building. It’s very tall and to the east of Temple of Heaven. The amusement park should have been to the southwest. But I never got a straight answer. Guess I should have walked, and walked, and walked to find out.

  2. There’s a website somewhere with pics of abandoned projects – huge amusement parks, whole towns, engineers’ dreams. Quite poignant really. Love it how Disney executives are trying to subdue Micky and Minnie in China 🙂

    • That sounds lovely. My very first job was at an amusement park. It closed about 15 years ago and sat empty for a while. There was talk of a new owner, but that fell through and then finally, they tore down the rollercoaster and all those wonderful rides. There’s a website devoted to people posting memories about the park. It was open for 60-70 years. What a shame that it’s gone.

  3. Obviously, we missed this ferris wheel due to the smog. I don’t remember seeing it from the Temple of Heaven. Too bad you didn’t make it down to Shanghai — that was our favorite city in China by far.

  4. Maybe the smog somehow made a mirage appear. With so many mysterious happenings in China (my grandmother tells me there are a lot of ghosts there), I wouldn’t be surprised. Glad your family was still able to meet up with you in Beijing!

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