Vienna can be enjoyable not only for must see activities places, but for funfairs too. Prater funfair is the part of 19 -20th Viennese history and entertainment. This funfair is probably the oldest in Europe.
The oldest is Giant Ferris Wheel, built in 1897. It can lift you about 60 meters and from the top it could be seen whole Vienna panorama that is even better than from Stefansdom, because it takes a wider corner of panorama.
The Prater is a scruffy little amusement park on the other side of the Danube from the center. Its most famous attraction is the Riesenrad, a giant Ferris wheel and landmark for the city. It was also the setting for the most dramatic scene in one of the best British movies, The Third Man. Here Orson Welles' Harry Lime took Holly Martins for a trip above the rooftops of Vienna, for a not so subtle bit of coercion from the open door of a cabin halted at the apex of its journey.
For fans of the movie, the Riesenrad is a must see. For others, it depends on whether you want to see this historic monument close-up. There's not a lot else to see in the area. The Ferris wheel takes you up to almost 200 feet (60m) above the city for some great views, but it is very expensive for what it offers at ?7.50 for a slow moving trip to the top.
The stables where the horses are housed is across the road from Hofburg. There are tours available, but if you just want to have a quick look, a good time to go is after morning practise at around 12 noon when the horses are brought back to the stables. The stables have in recent times been renovated and refurbished and these boys now live in sumptuous surroundings, which of course they fully deserve. There are about 70 of them in all. It takes several years to train them to a standard where they can take part in a formal performance and if you go to the morning practise, you will see horses in all stages of their training from kindergarten class to the true professionals. All in all, you will probably see about 25 different horses during practise, but only 8 or 10 in a gala performance.
The amusement park which is believed to be the oldest in the world has a season that runs from the 15th March to the 31st October. Outside of these times you can still walk through the park. The normal hours are 1000 hrs to 0100 hrs, but these times can change depending upon the weather. The price of the rides varies depending upon the attraction but there are rides to suit all tastes, including a number of white knuckle rides.
This is a term used to encompass two distinct areas of the city's parkland - Wurstelprater and the woodland park on it's outskirts. It is home to the Riesenrad, the Planetarium, the Prater Museum, Ernst Happel Stadium, the Lusthaus and the Schweizhaus.
Close to the Giant Ferris Wheel and amusement park is the miniature railway ‘liliputbahn’. There are 2 steam trains and 3 diesel trains that cover the 3 miles of track. The season for the railway being open can vary depending upon the weather, as can the opening hours. The railway, which has recently celebrated its 75the birthday leisurely winds its way through the park’s beautiful woodland.
I was surprised by the huge size of the Prater at 60 square kilometres. It was originally a royal hunting ground but the public have been allowed access since 1766. It is opened every day of the year and is the place to come to if you like sporting actives. Its great for relaxing walks, hikes, jogging, skating, swimming, cycling, there is a BMX track, horse racing, golf and boating. Other attractions include the Giant Ferris Wheel ‘Riesenrad’, amusement park and miniature railway ‘liliputbahn’.
Day 4 : Prater
After visiting the Stephansdom and the quarter around it, I decided to take the subway towards the Prater recreation park.
From the subway station it was just a small walk towards the recreation park.
Of course the main attraction in the Prater Park is the Riesenrad (the giant Ferris wheel).
Schweitzerhaus is the nicest place in the Prater park to sit down in the garden and have a specially custom made Budweiser beer! The food there is excellent as well and the place is a good going out point for visiting all areas of Prater. The place also often has different manifestations so do check their website for novelties. The garden officially opened this week (end of March) so go and enjoy (and hope for beautiful weather) :)
Plenty of things to do in Vienese Prater. From "shoot them up, Joe" to "old school knock 'm with a ball", to high technology bungee seat going up and down, to shooting cans, to punch'em strong guy, to buggy rides, to hand wrestling.. khm maybe I need to say to try and visit this fun park in the warm months because its not really fun to do all this shoot em ups turnem arounds in the rain or snow! In any event, winter time Prater also offers a lot of fun possibilities. Just check it out!
If you are looking for your fill of goosebumps, you will find several ghost-houses and rides in the Prater. We went on the following 2:
Jack the Ripper House
You walk on foot through this maze of dark passages which hold frightening surprises. Surrounded by the sounds of eerie laughter, you try to find your way around the complete darkness that is only broken by sudden flashes of light and skeletons falling in front of you, jets of air coming up unexpectedly when you step on hidden planks, and guys who act like statues that spontaneously come to live to scare the living daylights out of you. We entered an elevator that crashed, and then ended up in a room that swayed very wildely and seemed to turn around us when we sat down on a bench. The walk through the house was really long with a lot of grizzly sights, such as torture chambers, fake blood, medieval birds, etc. . We both kept pushing the other in front since we were lost in the maze of passages. This was quite scary and is definitely not for the faint hearted.
This is a ride on little wooden trains. It's quite frightening - if you are 5 years old.... cute otherwise.
A short 30 minute, if that, U-bahn (Vienna's underground system), from Stadtpark Station and Vienna's District 1, you must go to Prater to ride the Riesenrad.
If you're planning to go to Vienna, rent the movie "The Third Man", a classic Carol Reed movie, starring Orson Welles in 1949. The movie is a mystery thriller that also provides a lot of history about post World War 2 Vienna. Personally, I adore Austrian Actress Alida Valli who plays Anna Schimdt, a Czech woman trying to pass as Austrian so that she wouldn't be sent to that country now under Russian occupation and Lime's love interest.
There's a memorable scene when the "hero" Holly Martins finds Lime and they have a discussion on the Riesenrad.
The scene is famous because of one of Orson Welles most famous movie lines:
"Don't be so gloomy. After all it's not that awful. What the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."
The "Spiegel-Irrgarten" (mirror-maze) was great fun. First you walk through a house with crooked walls, floors, and ceilings, illusions, weird mirrors, and any sort of trick that can be played on one's mind.
One of the rooms contains an arm-wrestling machine, on which you can measure your strength. While Eve showed "herculean" strength, Ash made it up to the "barely out of diapers" level. hehehehehe
Once you make it through this crazy house of mind-games, you will end up in a maze of glass walls. In order to exit the place you have find your way out of this "Irrgarten" of glass. Ash called me "plain rude" because I was cracking up when my mom ran smack-bang into one of these glass-walls. In the meantime he himself had to turn and secretly giggle.......
This is a fun thing to do for the entire family.
ASH's COMMENT: I DID NOT GIGGLE! Maybe a bit of a smile ... but DEFINATELY not AS LOUD AS HER GUFFAW!! ARGH!!!!! Impolite I tell you! :)
We thought the craziest thing we did on this trip was this attraction in the Prater: the Ejection Seat (until Ash bungee-jumped off the Donauturm, but more about that in the Sports-tips).
This is how it works ...
2 people are seated in a ball that is pulled back by springs and then shot up into the sky. You'll fly up for about 90 meters, and then bounce back and forth for a while. It's crazy - it's fun, its free fall upwards, and then heart stopping back down.
The price for this is 15 Euros; they also strap a camera to the machine, so that you can get the video of yourself screaming and shouting out expressions you normally wouldn't use. :D
The best part of it all was when we got to seeing the video at Eva's dads place over beer, everyone was tickled pink at us yelling like asses while on the slingshot, and how she was all white in the face from being shuttled up at such high speeds. This was our first crazy stunt together. Don't think I'd forget it ever!
Don't get me wrong - this is not an US-style amusement park. The Prater is rather small. But still it is a good place to stroll around, sit in the grass somewhere, eat good food or to enjoy some of the joyrides.
It's also not a bad idea to take a ride on the "Riesenrad" in order to get a good view over vienna.