ESCToday in collaboration with Vienna Tourist Board (Wien.info) will be bringing you a series of articles leading up to the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest in order to showcase and introduce the 2015 Eurovision host city Vienna to our readers. Today we will check out the Prater Amusement Park and its Giant Ferris Wheel.
If you are coming to Vienna with your family and children and want to spend a whole day out then Prater is the perfect place to go. The Prater has something to offer for all ages, young and old. So if you want to relax, have fun and chill then you where to go to!
The Prater: A playground for everyone
What would Vienna be without its Prater and what would the Prater be without its Giant Ferris Wheel? Probably like a visit to Vienna without a ride on the Giant Ferris Wheel: Half as nice as it could be.
Vienna’s famous Volksprater lies in the heart of the city in the district of Leopoldstadt and offers visitors the Giant Ferris Wheel erected in 1827 as well as many attractions such as carousels, halls of mirrors and laughter, ghost trains and rollercoasters, or the little Liliputbahn, on which visitors can enjoy a tour of the amusement park.
The Wurstelprater – as the park is still lovingly referred to by the Viennese – also has something to offer on the culinary front. A must for culinary globetrotters: The famous Vienna Schweinstelze (knuckle of pork) and the Lángos – a leavened dough specialty of Hungarian cuisine, which is brushed with lots of garlic water and eaten on the go.
Far away from it all in the middle of Vienna in the Prater
Of course, the Prater is not just a pleasure park. The Prater also includes the adjacent Stadtpark, considered one of the most beautiful in the world. Here, in the middle of nature in the heart of Vienna, visitors find themselves far from the hustle and bustle of the city. The landscape of water meadows was once a popular hunting ground of the Habsburgs. Today, visitors stroll along the Hauptallee, the main avenue that runs from the Praterstern to the Lusthaus beneath groups of poplars past meadows and dense undergrowth.
One of the biggest attractions in this part of the Prater is the chestnut blossom. While the trees flower in delicate shades of pink in May, the Hauptallee is filled with walkers and cyclists as well as joggers and riders, the children romp around on the playground and youngsters meet on the BMX and skating track or throw themselves into the sand on the beach volleyball courts.
In winter, the Jesuitenwiese meadow in Vienna’s Prater becomes a big playground. A snow-making machine provides enough of the white stuff for a proper snowball fight. In addition to cross-country trails, there is also a tobogganing hill, which was created from the ruins of houses bombed during the Second World War.
About 250 attractions entertain you at the Vienna Prater, from auto-drome rinks to ball toss and shooting booths, exciting roller coasters and ghost trains to flight simulators.
Children especially enjoy merry-go-rounds, Punch and Judy Shows, the old Viennese grotto train and much more. This varied entertainment program is complemented by more than sixty cafés and restaurants, and ice cream and snack stands. The Viennese call this part of the Prater the Wurstelprater (literally: Clown’s Prater, the equivalent of an old-fashioned amusement park).
Excursion destination “Green Prater”
Right next to the amusement park area, one finds the Green Prater – the spacious forest and meadow area which was once an imperial hunting ground and was opened by Emperor Joseph II to the public. As a consequence, the first coffeehouses and restaurants opened their doors.
Today, the Green Prater is a paradise for walkers, runners, bicyclists and horseback riders, and is highly appreciated as a large leisure area within the city limits. To get an overview of this green oasis in the city of Vienna, one best takes the Liliputbahn, a miniature railway spanning more than three miles.
The Giant Ferris Wheel and its Square
The Giant Ferris Wheel is open year round and is one of the most frequented attractions in the Danube metropolis. Ferris Wheel Square was redesigned in 2008. Now this entrance to the Prater amusement park is a nostalgic theme world reminiscent of the Prater in the year 1900.
The traditional city inn “Eisvogel” has returned to the Prater and offers award-winning Viennese cuisine. After its inaugural opening in 1805, the inn and its tasteful, sophisticated offering gradually rose to become a Viennese institution. Even today, the kitchen chefs hold fast to the qualities of yesteryear. Thus the menu is missing neither the classic Vienna schnitzel nor the imaginatively served yeast dumpling. The local foods are creatively dished up with a decent portion of Viennese charm.
At Madame Tussauds, visitors can encounter celebrities from around the world up close: from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Falco, Empress Elisabeth and Gustav Klimt to Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman.
An Attractive Adventure World …
Today, the Giant Ferris Wheel offers an attractive adventure world: at the entrance area, a Panorama tells the history of this monumental ferris wheel and the City of Vienna – with nostalgic installations that drift past you in giant ferris wheel cars.
At the Riesenrad Shop, you can buy exquisite Viennese porcelain and crystal, models of the Riesenrad and high-quality textiles in the Riesenrad-Look. A café-restaurant provides culinary delights and pampers you in a cozy ambiance with Viennese specialties.
The Giant Ferris Wheel was built in 1896/97 by the British engineer Walter Basset and wasn’t the only one of its kind back then: Basset built similar panorama wheels – extremely popular at the end of the 19th century – in Chicago, London, Blackpool and Paris as well.