Visiting the Prater in Vienna For Theme Park Thrills

I might have gotten out of going to an amusement park in the Costa Brava but it was another story in Vienna.

Having heard that the rides were a bit on the scary side I went to the oldest amusement park in the world, the Prater in Vienna, with a little hesitation. My kids were thrilled, however, because they are adrenaline junkies. And are too young to worry about safety.

History of the Prater

The Prater is a public park in Vienna famous for its amusement park.  It started out as a hunting ground for the Emperors of Austria until Emperor Josef II decreed the land a public recreation area. What eventually became the amusement park soon followed the establishment of restaurants and cafes.  The oldest amusement park in the world, you can convince yourself that a visit to the Prater really counts as cultural sightseeing.

Prater Amusement Park

The giant Ferris Wheel at one of the entrances to the amusement park, the Wiener Riesenrad, was built in 1897 to celebrate the golden jubilee of Emperor Franz Josef I.  For about 65 years, this Ferris Wheel was the tallest one in the world and has become of symbol of Vienna.

The Prater Amusement Park in Vienna

It’s not all historical.  Check out this mermaid which has been made to look like Austrian Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst.

Conchita Wurstel Prater

The Positives For Prater

This amusement park is the first one I’ve been which is based on your child’s stated age not height. No, there is no proof of age either. My daughter was delighted she could go on many of the big rides because she is very petite. Most people would think she was younger than she is.

There are a lot of rides of varying thrill levels. My kids love roller coasters and I counted at least 8.  I saw 2 each of the Ferris Wheels and the haunted houses. You don’t usually get so many in one park.

Prater Amusement Park Vienna

There are also water rides which came in handy on a hot day like the day we were there.

Prater Amusement Park water ride

There are also the usual games and food vendors. There doesn’t seem to be any restriction on bringing food into the park.  Presumably they feel gouging you on the ride tickets is enough.

For little children, there is a dedicated small ride area as well as a 75 year old little train that toots around the park. The Prater is also the sight of the local Madame Tussaud’s and Planetarium if you want to avoid rides altogether.

Prater Vienna Madame Tussauds

The Negatives for Prater

Can I tell you how much I hate parks that are pay per ride?  The little rides are 2-3 Euros each but the bigger rides range from 4-5 euros. With two kids it really adds up. Especially when there are no queues and each kid can just jump on a ride and be fine 2 minutes later.

I also hated this carousel ride which featured real ponies shackled to a cart going around in circles.  I can’t believe they have these rides anymore!! I felt so sorry for those poor ponies.

Prater Amusement Park Vienna

What about the scare factor?  Austria’s lack of litigation culture means it has less of a nanny-state culture.  Parents definitely need to use their judgment on what rides are appropriate.  Some of the rides are scarier than the others.   There is one ride called Ejection Seat that looked like a giant rubber band which for 15 Euros will catapult you at 14 meters per second into the stratosphere. I was nauseous just looking at it.

The Praterturm took the otherwise innocuous fairground ride that is a spinning swing and super-sized it.  Spinning 110 meters high above Vienna, it is the highest spinning swing in the world.

The Praterturm, the world's highest spinning wheel at The Prater Amusement Park in Vienna
The Praterturm

The Prater Park

In an effort to distract them from the thrill rides I hired a family bike/rickshaw.  It was really good value starting at 5 Euros for half an hour.  We peddled around the park near the Prater enjoying the sunshine and people watching.

Prater Park rickshaw
A menace to Viennese society

More accurately I peddled and the children fought over who got to ring the bell. Randomly they would also try to steer in the opposite direction and/or pull on the brake. We were not a coordinated family and lurched around the park like drunken sailors on shore leave.

The Prater Vienna

By the end of this hair raising and tiring cycle ride, I was ready to pay for thrill rides again.

Visiting The Prater

The Prater is very easy to reach by public transportation (Praterstern station on either line U1 or U2).  It’s open daily from 10AM to midnight all year round.  Peak season is from March until October.  Individual attraction opening hours may vary.  Entry is free to the park itself but you pay individually for rides.

The bike rental has a lot of bikes of varying sizes for children and adults as well as 2-4 people rickshaws to rent.

 

Published by

Shobha

I am an American expat based in London with my travel-loving family. I write at Just Go Places Blog about luxury, cultural and family travel.

6 thoughts on “Visiting the Prater in Vienna For Theme Park Thrills”

  1. What a lovely post. Some of those rides look great, I have to say I am not keen on the chair ride which looks a bit freaky. Those poor ponies though? Such a shame that they still do those kind of rides and they didn’t even look particularly happy either. 😦 still tho your cycle ride made me chuckle! 🙂

    1. Those poor ponies! I don’t think they are ‘historical charm’ at all. I worried about safety on some of those rides but I am a scaredy cat and a worry wart.

  2. Even though we’re going to Vienna this year, I think I’m going to skip the Prater. We’re only going to be there a couple of days, and I hate rollercoasters anyway. I feel queasy just LOOKING at that Praterturm. No, thank you 🙂

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