Merlin Entertainment buys Orlando wheel at Icon Park
Orlando Eye

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'We’re proud that Merlin recognized the global appeal of this attraction.'

The 400-foot-tall lit-up Orlando Ferris wheel visible from Interstate 4 has a new owner and a new name.

Merlin Entertainment, the England-based company that owns the London Eye as well as several Florida attractions, purchased The Wheel at Icon Park, the company announced.

Merlin declined to disclose how much it paid, a spokeswoman said.

The wheel — the tallest observation attraction on the U.S. East Coast — will now be called the Orlando Eye, Merlin said in the press release.

“Today’s acquisition of the Orlando Wheel in the vitally important tourist hub of Orlando demonstrates our Gateway strategy in action and serves to replicate our successful London Gateway formula, whereby we have clustered four of our branded attractions alongside the iconic anchor that is The London Eye,” said CEO Scott O’Neil.

In Central Florida, Merlin Entertainment owns Legoland Florida Resort, Peppa Pig Theme Park and two attractions, Sea Life Orlando Aquarium and Madame Tussauds Orlando, that are located at the Icon Park.

Icon Park President and CEO Chris Jaskiewicz welcomed Monday’s announcement.

“We successfully built and developed it into a famous Orlando landmark, and now welcome The Orlando Eye by Merlin Entertainments as one of our outstanding Icon Park tenants. We’re proud that Merlin recognized the global appeal of this attraction, and of Icon Park as a destination, in selecting us as the site to expand their popular brands in Central Florida,” Jaskiewicz said in a statement.

Located off the touristy International Drive, Icon Park has grown into a thriving entertainment complex with live music, shopping and restaurants built around the giant Ferris wheel that offers 360-degree views of the area on a 20-minute ride in one of 30 air-conditioned glass capsules that hold up to 15 people each.

Icon Park is also the site of a tragedy that made international news. In 2022, a teenager fell to his death from Orlando Free Fall drop tower. The ride was closed and torn down in 2023. Lawmakers passed a new law in the aftermath to require more safety rules for smaller amusement rides.

About 62 million people visited Merlin Entertainment attractions in 2023, up 13% from the previous year, the company reported Monday in its quarterly earnings. The company owns 141 attractions in 23 countries.

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is an award-winning journalist based in Orlando. She covered the business of theme parks for the Orlando Sentinel. Her previous newspaper stops include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth as well as an internship covering the nation’s capital for the Chicago Tribune. For fun, she runs marathons. She gets her training from chasing a toddler around. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson .



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