“Great if you prefer quantity over quality”
Vienna is a gem when it comes to stunning buildings and photogenic gardens. Still, I knew little about the Austrian capital until May 21, 2019. Some friends had told me about a beautiful city centre, but I didn’t knew the highlights of Vienna. The only sight I did recognise was a famous Ferris wheel. The Wiener Riesenrad often appears in tourist photos and travel guides. Just like the Singapore Flyer and the London Eye, it’s more than just a way to admire the surroundings from above; it’s a symbol. Anyone visiting Vienna should therefore take a picture of this huge structure. And do you know what makes it extra fun? At the foot of the Wiener Riesenrad lies an amusement park with just as many credits as Europa-Park.
Those who thought that urban amusement parks are a purely Scandinavian thing, were wrong. The phenomenon also exists in Paris, in Tokyo and here in the capital of Austria. The Wiener Prater has been here since 1766 and it has become a true monument in the European amusement park business. Over the years, a very impressive range of attractions has been built: I count 6 haunted houses, an equal number of bumper car tracks and not less than 13 roller coasters. If Prater would’ve kept all its rides from the past, there would’ve been a total of 36 roller coasters today.
When I enter the terrain from the western side, I immediately encounter Super 8er Bahn. The name of this ride promises a superb experience, but I have many reasons to doubt that. Super 8er Bahn was built by Pinfari and this Italian manufacturer isn’t known for its smooth roller coasters. My doubts are justified, as I’m facing two painful minutes. Super 8er Bahn is surprisingly fast, but the strangely designed vehicles don’t guarantee a pleasant ride. The compact layout is pretty decent, though.
The neighbouring Dizzy Mouse needs little comment. If you’ve visited a European funfair, you may know how Reverchon’s spinning wild mouse looks like. You may also know that the ride is everything but legendary. The layout shows an abundance of hairpin curves and it’s not the smoothest experience. No one with common sense would ever spend 4 euros on it… unless you’re a credit hunter. I’m guilty: I couldn’t resist the temptation and paid that amount for this mediocre ride.
Super 8er Bahn cost 4.50 euros and Dizzy Mouse brought me 4.00 euros closer to poverty. Two bad roller coasters for the equivalent of one delicious cocktail. That sounds like a crime, but it is the harsh reality here at Wiener Prater. This is not an amusement park as we know it; it’s actually a permanent funfair with dozens of independent operators. There are some combination tickets available, but unfortunately there is no all-in option for the coasters. That’s why I pay separately for every credit I ride, which makes a visit to Prater relatively expensive. However, I don’t come here every week, so I don’t really mind paying another 5.00 euros for my next coaster. I’m talking about Insider, an indoor coaster. And honestly, this ride gives more value for money than the previous ones. The queue is some kind of walk-through with a mirror maze and a laser game. That queue eventually leads to a classic Spinning Wild Mouse by Maurer Rides. Sounds boring, but thanks to the loud techno music and some cool laser effects, the overall experience of Insider is fantastic.
At Dizzy Mouse, I defined myself as a credit hunter. But apparently, I’m not. When I encounter the yellow and red coloured Volare, literally every brain cell refuses to spend 5 euros on this thing. Don’t get me wrong: I love flying coasters. I enjoy a ride on Manta and I consider Galactica as the best roller coaster at Alton Towers. But this Zamperla model literally feels like pure torture. I already experienced the pain in the Finnish Särkänniemi and I gave it a second try at Canada’s Wonderland, but both times I concluded that Volare is the most horrible coaster model of all time. Riding it again today? No way.
Wiener Prater doesn’t care about the fact that certain attraction types are represented more than once. That’s why there are plenty of haunted houses, plenty of bumper cars and they’ve got quite a few wild mouse coasters as well. There are actually four of them. Thanks to Dizzy Mouse and Insider we’re already halfway, but Die Wilde Maus and Maskerade are still on my must do list. The first one is logically the most standard version. This Wild Mouse has the classic layout, the classic theme and gives the most predictable ride a Wild Mouse could give. Maskerade is a bit more unique. This spinning roller coaster was built by Gerstlauer, it’s mostly indoors and it’s fitted with an original cabaret theme. It’s therefore the most LGBT-friendly roller coaster at Prater, but the actual experience is underwhelming. With its track length of just 240 metres and a height of 10 metres, it’s just too small. Insider found an excellent way to make a Wild Mouse more exciting, but Maskerade’s attempt was considerably less successful.
My stubborn decision to skip Volare cost me a coaster bingo. However, that horrible Zamperla machine isn’t the only credit I missed. A lot of attractions are actually closed today, especially in the southern half of the park. The Vekoma Boomerang and two child-friendly roller coasters aren’t operating, for example. That’s not a big problem in my opinion, but I do regret the fact that wooden coaster Hochschaubahn remains closed. It opened in 1950 and it’s one of very few remaining side friction coasters on our planet. This is such a classic roller coaster with a brake-man and the Alpine landscape looks very cute.
My favourite credit at Prater is undoubtedly Megablitz. This roller coaster seems similar to Super 8er Bahn at first, but Vekoma clearly performs better with compact layouts than Pinfari does. I am pleasantly surprised by the smoothness, the g-forces and the powerful curves Megablitz has to offer. I don’t want to claim that it gave me a blackout, but the ride does contain some very forceful helixes. The trains are identical to those of Revolution at Bobbejaanland, but they’re literally 10 times shorter.
Wiener Prater has a special habit of regularly renting guest attractions. Prater is a big funfair anyway, so those temporarily placed funfair attractions don’t look out of place here. In 2016 and 2018, the legendary Olympia Looping was invited for the summer season. And in 2017 the giant Höllenblitz was a guest for six months. This year, another well-known roller coaster from the German funfair was brought here: Teststrecke. This ride has already travelled quite a lot. It could be found in Brazil in the 1980s, it then moved to Dorney Park in Pennsylvania and it’s travelling through Europe nowadays. Although the ride is a little less overwhelming than Olympia Looping or Höllenblitz, Teststrecke is nothing less than a great roller coaster. Despite its age, it runs smoothly and the loops are more intense than I expected them to be. Not a new credit for me (I once encountered Teststrecke at the Sommerdom funfair in Hamburg) but it’s a pleasure ride it again.
Very few amusement parks equal the attraction density of Prater. The park isn’t only filled with coasters, but there’s also a huge amount of flat rides. In this segment, Prater’s funfair character is actually a positive thing. Since operators in Prater work for their own income, they often create a pretty cool light and music show to attract crowds. My weak stomach and the rather expensive pay-per-ride principle make me skip all of them, but I love watching these rides.
Wiener Prater also caters to the haunted house enthusiasts and the water ride lovers. And despite the fact that these water attractions have a funfair-like appearance, they’re a lot bigger than I expected. Log flume Aquagaudi has three descents, a small airtime hill and theming includes the Little Mermaid’s naughty sister. At the second water attraction, decoration is at least as questionable. But once again, the actual ride is impressive. Wildalpenbahn is in fact a 30-metre tall water slide with a vertical lift. Both attractions cost 4.50 euros per person.
WORTH A VISIT?
What seems normal in America, is rather exceptional in Europe. Amusement parks with at least 10 roller coasters are relatively scarce here. That’s why it’s somewhat bizarre that I’ve never visited Wiener Prater – one of the few places with such an extensive coaster collection – until now. Yet, this park has never appealed to me like Europa-Park or Alton Towers do. Although Prater is world famous, this park lacks many things that I find necessary during an amusement park visit. Theming is almost nonexistent, the atmosphere is a little sad and the layout of the park is messy. Besides, not a single roller coaster really stands out; almost all of them are standard models delivering an underwhelming ride experience. Insider and Megablitz were entertaining, but do these rides justify the trip to Vienna? No, not at all.
Photo Gallery 2019
Have you ever made a ride on Vienna’s legendary Ferris wheel? What’s your favourite coaster at Prater? Would you pay the full price to ride every possible credit? Share your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of this page.