Could Floriana get its own ‘Malta Eye’? Entrepreneur seeks Ferris wheel permit

Entrepreneur Liam Mangion has formally applied for a PA permit to install the 'Malta Eye' Ferris wheel on the site of the car park on the edge of the Floriana granaries

Will Floriana get its Ferris wheel? A photomontage of how the entrepreneur envisages the wheel will look
Will Floriana get its Ferris wheel? A photomontage of how the entrepreneur envisages the wheel will look

A 45-metre high ‘Malta Eye’ Ferris wheel is being proposed in the car park off the Floriana granaries.

The Ferris wheel, described as an “observatory structure” in an application to the Planning Authority, is set to include 36 capsules which will each hold six persons. 

The proponent is Liam Mangion, the sole owner of Extreme Events, and a shareholder in another popular amusement ride, Slingshot Malta, the latter with Paceville entrepreneur Hugo Chetcuti.

Mangion confirmed to MaltaToday that the Lands Authority has not objected to him presenting this application on public land. Anyone applying on public land is obliged to present a form showing that the authority does not object “in principle” to the proposed development.

While the base of the structure will be 30 metres long, the wheel will rise to a height of 45 metres, which is equivalent to the size of an 11-storey building. 

This would make the structure one of the highest in Valletta – 10 metres lower than the Barrakka lift. Other structures which rise higher than the proposed wheel are the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church (73m) and the St Paul’s Pro-Cathedral (63m).

The Malta Eye would be considerably lower than the London Eye, which rises to 135m.

Liam Mangion told this newspaper his motivation for the project was his “great love” for
observation wheels. “I saw the success observation wheels have throughout major cities across Europe and World Heritage sights and I’ve always dreamt of Malta hosting its own. I have visited many of them throughout the year, so I asked, ‘Why not Malta?’”

The wheel does not need any foundation works and can be installed in just 10 working days.

When asked why this particular location was chosen Mangion claims that he has have been studying and getting expert advice since 2008 to find a suitable location in Malta. “The proposed area ticks all the boxes for a successful and iconic attraction, respecting the surroundings, residents, heritage and skyline.”

Mangion hopes he will be able to install his Ferris wheel this year while Valletta enjoys the status of European Capital of Culture.

He dismissed any fears on the visual impact on Valletta, arguing that similar wheels are found in several leading world heritage locations, including UNESCO sites. “The wheel will produce a lot of smiles, excitement and positive marketing for our island, whilst respecting the skyline.”

In London, the iconic Ferris wheel on the Thames river attracts large scores of tourists, with the hashtag #londoneye yielding more than 595,000 hits on Instagram. “Most wheels also offer romantic packages including champagne and chocolates and are popular sites for marriage proposals,” Mangion added.

A history of the Ferris Wheel

The original Ferris Wheel was designed and constructed as a landmark for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

With a height of 80.4 metres  it was the tallest attraction at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois, where it opened to the public on June 21, 1893.

It was intended to rival the 324-metre Eiffel Tower, the centerpiece of the 1889 Paris Exposition.

The current tallest wheel is the 167.6-metre (550 ft) High Roller in Las Vegas, US, which opened to the public in March 2014.