100 Things to do in (and around) Bournemouth 20 – Observation Wheel

I’ve Lived in Bournemouth for six years, but today I’m going to do something that I’ve not done before as I considered it too touristy – a ride on the Observation Wheel. The wheel is well placed for observing Bournemouth; on Pier Approach with the sea (and pier, of course) on one side and the gardens on the other.

Observation Wheel

I haven’t been on a ferris wheel in 20 years. The last time was in a fairground in Lahore, Pakistan and it did not go well. It was really hot and the fair was pretty empty, but my girls really wanted to go on it, so we did. Once the ride set off, the operator promptly fell asleep. So we went round. And round. And round. Every time we reached the bottom, we shouted and waved at the operator, but he wouldn’t wake. It was both hilarious and terrifying in equal measures.

Observation Wheel

Bournemouth Observation Wheel operates from 10 am daily. A ride costs £8. A notice states that one ride consists of two rotations and lasts approximately 8-10 minutes.

Ready to board

It’s bang on 10 am when I arrive, so I am the first (and only) passenger. I pay my £8 and attempt to board. First point to note; the capsule is quite high off the ground and there is no hand rail, plus it rotates as you attempt to climb in. This causes me to miss my step and hit my leg on the side, which has come up in quite a bruise. I give up on mounting with any semblance of dignity and just crawl in on my hands and knees.

My capsule

Second point to note is that it’s not really an activity for one person; the capsule is octagonal, designed to seat six, with three seats either side of the doors. If there is just one person with no one to counter balance, you end up dangling at an awkward angle.

Here we go

Final point to note; the capsule rotates so that the heaviest part is at the bottom, so when I attempt to slide across to a different seat to get a better view of a particular landmark, it rotates and I end back where I started, but in a different seat.

At the top

Apart from the bruise, and the dangling backwards, I quite enjoy my little ride and get a lovely bird’s eye view of the pier and gardens. Not, however, as great a photo op as I’d hoped, because the pod is fully enclosed and its octagonal design means that there are a lot of window frames to try to avoid.

View of the Pier from the Wheel

In addition, I can’t help thinking that £8 for 8 minutes is £60 per hour, which is a lot of money to sail round in two small circles. Especially as nobody else boards during my ride, so two rotations takes rather less than 8 minutes. The operator obviously concurs, because he sends the wheel round a third time. Now I love to get my money’s worth, but an extra spin causes flashbacks to Lahore, and a part of me starts to panic that I’m never going to get off…

View of Bournemouth from the Wheel

But it’s just one extra rotation, and a couple of minutes later, I’m back at the bottom wondering if there’s any possibility of alighting with dignity. Apparently not!

Pavilion and Upside down House from the Wheel

I quite enjoyed my 8 minute ride and bird’s eye view of Bournemouth, but I can think of better ways to spend £8, so from now on I’ll leave it to the tourists…

Author: Jane's Midlife Journey

Stopped work, started travelling. Sometimes I run - combining the two with some parkrun tourism.

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