The Wiener Prater is a very spacious park area in the middle of the Austrian capital with a variety of sports facilities, a planetarium, the Liliputbahn and the amusement park Wurstelprater, which is typically called Prater. Similar to the Dyrehavsbakken on the outskirts of the Danish capital Copenhagen, the Prater is divided into plots and is fed by various showmen, so that the park itself partly resembles a folk festival. But on the other hand, the showmen are responsible for the design of the Prater themselves, so as a result, there were some very nice corners in the Prater.
From the station Praterstern, it is only a few metres up to the Wiener Prater. One enters this place at the Riesenradplatz at the foot of the Wiener Riesenrad, the famous landmark of the city and the Prater. Built in the year 1897 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the throne of Emperor Franz Joseph I, the approximately 65 m high wheel is the oldest Ferris wheel in the world and was the highest Ferris wheel in the world between 1920 and 1985.
After paying the not exactly low entrance fee, we go to a small exhibition in which miniatures about the history of Vienna and the Prater are shown in reconstructed wagons. The mirrored walls are interesting, whereby the room seems to be endless. In the outer area of the complex, there is the stairway to the station. From here, one has a wonderful view to the framework structure of the Ferris wheel and to the engine of it. During the trip in the large capacity gondolas, one has a wonderful view to the wheel and the Prater itself, as also to the skyline of the city of Vienna.
From the Ferris wheel you have a perfect view of the Aqua Gaudi white water ride, a new log flume from Reverchon, as well as the Prater’s largest roller coaster, the Super 8er Bahn, an FC80 built in 1997 by Pinfari.
After climbing the lifthill, the first descent is started uniformly, followed by an uphill turn to the left, whereupon our route remains somewhat airy. From here, we go downhill and uphill again at high speed for a short time, whereupon we pass a block brake. After another right-hand bend in Bavarian style the track goes steeply downhill. At full speed you now pass under the lift hill, which makes you realize very quickly why the catwalk at the lift was partly interrupted. After a small ascent, you immediately return to the ground in a downward helix. On a straight stretch you gain some height before turning left towards the ground. One turn later, you quickly pass a Bayernkurve just before the brakes start.
Fortunately, the Super 8 track does not have any cars with shoulder restraints, as they were often used on the manufacturer’s larger installations, hence the ride characteristics are quite good. Just like the Alpina train, which is a similarly compact layout, it has the urge to move its passengers a few centimetres back and forth in the car. In this respect, I don’t even want to imagine what an ordeal a ride in the RC70 must be, which has two loops in addition to the high speed and the compact design. Nevertheless, the Super 8er Bahn is a good roller coaster with a decent track length.
Belonging to the same operator, the Reverchon Spinning Coaster Dizzy Mouse is located in the immediate vicinity of the two larger rides and the Ferris wheel. In addition to the proven layout, the Reverchon Spinning Coaster Dizzy Mouse has a cat-shaped tunnel. As with all rides of this type, the rotation was quite present, although unfortunately somewhat expandable.
Interestingly enough, there is another spinning coaster in the immediate vicinity, but this time a Compact Spinning Coaster by Maurer Söhne. The layout of this roller coaster is often found as a copy in Chinese amusement parks, but also in Germany a layout was on tour as a spinning mouse in 2000. The one here in the Prater, however, came from the Japanese amusement park Tokyo Dome City. If you enter the Insider, you first have to find your way to the station, which here consists of a labyrinth and a laser game.
The layout of this roller coaster corresponds to the layout of a Wild Mouse from the same company, as you can find it here in the Prater with very good ride characteristics, only that the ride has a not such steep gradient. Due to the well lubricated cars, the first hairpin bend of this coaster will make you spin like never before on any spinning coaster. Combined with the music and the suitable background illuminations by lasers, the result is in the end a really successful ride, even if the entrance fee seems to be a little too high compared to the other installations in the Wiener Prater.
Since two spinning coasters are not enough, visitors can not only spin side by side and back to back sitting, but also with visual contact, as it is usual on a Gerstlauer Spinning Coaster. Maskerade is the name of the half-finished ride with vertical lift inside a hall. Besides this element, it can just about offer a drop with a trivial exit from the hall and a descending and ascending helix respectively.
Masquerade is scrap metal, nothing more than a waste of steel and therefore by far the worst installation ever built by Gerstlauer. Even with a bit of design in the interior, the ride would hardly be better, maybe just a bit more presentable; so the fare charged is just outrageous. As far as one does not need a ride, I recommend to avoid the installation and instead take a ride with the Prater Tower right in front of it, as there, the ascent alone takes as long as the whole ride on Maskerade and can offer a some added value with the view over Vienna.
A special ride is Der Zug des Manitu from CAM Baby Kart, a small powered coaster, which first goes backwards for half a lap before the rest of the ride continues forwards. The track itself describes actually only two ovals laid over each other, but the responsible engineer must have had a good bend in the optics, because every supposed straight line turns out to be quite curvy. Due to the ride operator, the trip proved to be specially fun and hardly wanted to end. Thus, the best price-performance ratio at the Wiener Prater is definitely to be found here.
Often, the Wiener Prater is the first port of call for new concepts, mostly for flat rides, such as the prototypes of all Flying Coasters of the Italian manufacturer Zamperla called Volare. This type of roller coaster doesn’t have the best reputation among roller coaster lovers, but the ride still seems too tempting not to test.
The entrance is similar to a HUSS Fly Away, so you climb a ladder as far as you can, then lie on your belly, grab the handles in front of you and look straight ahead. When all passengers are in this position, the car moves forward and is closed by a mechanism, so you ride the roller coaster like the toppings on a sandwich. After a short straight line you turn into the spiral lift, where the car is picked up surprisingly gently. Very quickly the ride goes uphill, at the top you can enjoy the view and then there is a small downhill slope. With full momentum it goes now into a strongly banked hairpin bend where the passengers are shaken back and forth. A heart-line roll follows, where, due to the great game in the car, you take off strangely and land gently again. A hardly describable feeling, which is repeated one floor below in the other direction of travel. After another block you pass some gentle turns before you hit the brakes. Back at the station the car is opened from below and you can leave the car backwards.
Volare is a roller coaster that I really liked, except for the first hairpin bend. The smoothness of the cars was surprisingly pronounced for a Zamperla roller coaster; the ride feeling was ok, and because of the rolls, as well as the smoother turns in the course of the ride, it was somehow funny. If you think of Volare as a wild mouse among the Flying Coasters, the ride definitely has its reason for being and is by no means as bad as it is often said.
Right next door is the Funtime Tornado, a thoroughly interesting ride, which attracts attention from far away due to its imposing structure. Suspended from the lightning are steel cables at the end of which a gondola has been attached. The strongly eccentrically designed lightning is now set in motion, the gondola starts to follow this movement due to its inertia and swings up some meters in altitude. Even if this swinging movement is already quite interesting, there is still a motor at the gondola that makes it roll over as desired. Thereby, a rather funny way of riding is created, similar to the ride Rocket from the same company, only that in this case, the rollovers are not initiated laterally. It is really a pity that the Tornado was sometimes barely sold, as the ride is first class. The fare is, despite the low capacity, comparatively cheap and the total length of the ride consisted of two complete cycles.
Another piece of jewellery from the Funtime company is the Chaos Pendulum Black Mamba, where simple shapes were obviously avoided as far as possible during construction. The curved arms are as striking as the construction of the boom. While the trajectory of the tornado still describes a simple 8, the driving sequence of the Black Mamba is less easy to describe. By turning the two arms, the driving sequence varies constantly between very intensive and quieter passages, so that a monotonous ride never occurs, as it often does on propellers from other manufacturers. Because of the fare, which is rather cheap, a ride is an absolute must; after all, there are not very many rides of this type and this motion sequence.
The Extasy, an Energy Storm ride from the Italian manufacturer Soriani and Moser, is a little more monotonous. The ride is similar to a Tivoli Orbiter, except that the gondolas are not lifted up to the vertical, but even beyond it, which makes an overhead ride possible. In addition, the shoulder restraints make it a little bit variable, so that changes of direction and longer hanging phases can be realised. Everything is used properly, so that an exciting and varied ride is offered. Because of the noticeable lateral forces, which you actually only feel on the ground level, you can get a little nauseous. In addition to the rapid driving style, the ride is accompanied by suitable music and various light effects, so that here, there is always an outstanding atmosphere.
Friends of upside down rides without shoulder restraints will find what they are looking for at the Boomerang from Vekoma. In 2007 the old train, which now runs on the Speed Snake at Fort Fun Abenteuerland, was replaced by a much more open version of the SAT, resulting in a much freer riding experience. The comfort is also reflected in the entry and exit, which is still simple in contrast to the almost identical trains of the test track. The ride itself is extremely smooth and exciting due to the unusual freedom inside the Cobra Roll. A tunnel during the exit of the element or its re-entry completes the ride.
The Megablitz is another Vekoma installation in the Wiener Prater, one of the rare MK-700 installations, similar to Evolution from Bobbejaanland in Belgium and Halvar from Plopsa Coo. With its two-seater cars and the curvy layout the layout resembles a Jet Star from Schwarzkopf.
After a left-hand bend, the track immediately goes up the lifthill. At the top, you make a quick right turn at a lofty height before leaning slightly to the side, which leads to an almost straight and surprisingly steep descent. One now crosses the valley in a very powerful way, whereupon one quickly rises again towards the sky. Instead of taking a breather, you immediately get back into the bend and follow a steep downward helix until you reach ground level again. A change of direction now leads you upwards in a wide left turn and you pass a block brake. With a proper momentum the train now races in a steep curve towards the ground and follows the helix already completed in the opposite direction of travel to a higher level. On a slightly downhill straight, you pick up speed again just before you drive towards the final brake in a wide downward helix, which tapers further and further and changes into an upward helix after reaching the ground level. If you feel like doing another lap, you can simply sit down for a reduced price, the rest of the group gets out.
The Megablitz is definitely and without any objections the best roller coaster of the Wiener Prater. What Vekoma has designed here is an absolute fun machine without equal and one of the best coasters of the manufacturer. Although the ride’s footprint is not necessarily huge, the ride seems to be almost endless, which is further supported by the heavily used clearance gauge. The built up speed allows great forces with a good pressure within the curves and valleys of the layout. Accordingly, a ride is an absolute must here as well.
Although we were in Vienna for two days, we unfortunately did not manage to visit the Wiener Prater during daytime, whereby the Hochschaubahn, which we simply did not find in the first evening due to its hidden location a little aside from the actual hustle and bustle at the back of the roller coaster Maskerade, had closed. Also the children’s roller coaster The Race was closed, like most of the children’s rides already closed, as well as the Autobergbahn, which is not a roller coaster at best.
The Wiener Prater is a really great park that partly resembles the amusement park Pleasure Beach Blackpool due to its narrow arrangement. The mix of old and new businesses and its design is as much charming as the English seaside park. Unfortunately, a visit to the Prater quickly costs a lot of money, although the fare of most of the rides is generally cheaper than on a German funfair, as there are much too many interesting attractions, among which there are still a lot of interesting walkthroughs, dark rides, ghost trains, bumper cars (pardon Autodrome) and go-kart tracks. It’s just an incredibly great mix, which you should let affect you more often.
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