Theme Park Wars: Most Iconic Attraction in Central Florida Purchased By Well-Known Entertainment Group

thorpe park merlin entertainment
Thorpe Park/Credit: Merlin Entertainment

One of the most popular and recognizable attractions in Central Florida has a new name and a new owner as part of a deal that was announced on Monday afternoon between the previous owner of the attraction and a well-known family entertainment company.

Merlin Entertainment, a British family entertainment group that owns various attractions and theme park resorts across the globe, has purchased one of Orlando’s most iconic attractions. Formerly known as The Wheel at ICON Park, the giant attraction has become quite the icon in Orlando itself, as it is visible from miles away, and in the evenings, the wheel’s spectacular lights display punctuates the horizon in Central Florida.

Related: Disney Strategist Unveils Plans For a Massive Theme Park Resort Opening in Texas in 2026

icon park orlando

The attraction formerly known as The Wheel at ICON Park (R)/Credit: ICON Park Orlando

Merlin Entertainment Group

Merlin Entertainment Group owns Legoland Florida Resort and Peppa Pig Theme Park, as well as two attractions that are located at ICON ParkSea Life Orlando Aquarium and Madame Tussauds Orlando.

The company also owns nine other Legoland theme park resorts in the United States, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom, and other theme parks like Thorpe Park in Chertsey, Surrey, near London, England.

The President and CEO of ICON Park Orlando, Chris Jaskiewicz, shared the exciting announcement, which was made on Monday:

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.

Under the new ownership, the giant observation wheel has also had a name change. Formerly called The Wheel at ICON Park, Merlin Entertainment has granted it a new name–The Orlando Eye, similar to The London Eye, which is also owned by Merlin and served as the original inspiration for the observation wheel in Central Florida.

The Orlando Eye

The Orlando Eye first opened to guests on April 29, 2015, but the earliest stages of planning for the attraction began in March 2011. Plans were approved by the Orange County Commissioner in 2012. At the time, completion of the wheel was projected for mid-2014, but circumstances ultimately pushed the opening date to nearly one year later than originally proposed.

renderings of the orlando eye

Architectural Renderings of the Orlando Eye/Credit: Keator Construction

In 2016, as part of a sponsorship deal with Coca-Cola, the attraction was renamed the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye. The transaction included four new “Surprise and Delight” capsules on the wheel, which were adorned with images of selfie sticks and coolers of sodas.

Then, in 2018, it was renamed the ICON Orlando, and in 2019, a third name change rendered the giant attraction The Wheel at ICON Park Orlando.

the orlando eye

The Orlando Eye at night/Credit: Keator Construction

The Orlando Eye stands 400 feet–or nearly 40 stories–tall, making it the tallest observation wheel on the East Coast. Thirty individual climate-controlled glass observation capsules are affixed around the wheel, each one capable of accommodating as many as 15 guests.

The Orlando Eye Experience

The experience usually lasts approximately 20 minutes, and unlike her Central Florida competitor attractions at Disney World, Universal Studios Orlando, and SeaWorld Orlando, the Orlando Eye “speeds” along at around one mile per hour.

The orlando eye

Credit: ICON Park

Though the wheel can hardly be considered a thrilling attraction, a ride to the topmost point affords guests spectacular views of nearby attractions at ICON Park, Universal Studios Orlando (including the current construction progress of the third theme park, Epic Universe), and SeaWorld Orlando.

On a clear day (or evening), guests can even see the Walt Disney World Resort and Cape Canaveral from atop the Orlando Eye!

the orlando eye spectacular views

Credit: ICON Park

A ticket is required for admission to the attraction. Currently, tickets to experience the Orlando Eye start at $29.99 per adult but vary, depending on the day of your visit, and can cost as much as $42.99 per adult on certain days of the year.

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!

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