Lifting the lid on the new look Prater
The new entrance area to the Prater in Vienna was due to be opened to the public on April 25. The Riesenradplatz (Giant Wheel Square) is the most visible part of the park’s ongoing regeneration and features new service and infrastructure facilities, new attractions and fresh food and beverage offerings.
Between now and March 2009 several more new attractions will open at this famous Austrian amusement outlet, which was presented with its “Renaissance” masterplan last year. “The City of Vienna is in this project together with many strong partners,” says vice-mayor and passionate supporter of the park, Grete Laska. “I am happy that all the co-operation worked out, which will result in a new standard of quality for the guests of the Prater.”
Over 40 companies were involved in the construction and fit out of the new Riesenrad facilities, which were overseen by Viennese company Explore 5D. The theme for the new area is “Vienna of the 1900s” – what many still perceive as the city and the Prater’s golden era, and it features period facades to match. Luftikus, the park’s popular Wave Swinger operated by the AET Group, has been moved here thanks to its nostalgic theme and classic paintings, and fits perfectly.
Guests arriving at the park will find now also find a new information point, first aid room, sanitary facilities, themed children’s strollers and a locker system. They can also sample two new technology-based attractions courtesy of Explore 5D. As already documented in these pages, Vienna Airlines is a simulator-based attraction using Flyboard technology to take guests on a virtual flight over the city, while Miraculum is a “5D” effects theatre bringing back the magic of Prater impresario and illusionist Basilio Calafati. More on both these attractions in an upcoming issue.
Tribute is also paid to Calafati at the new Salamucci restaurant – a name derived from the fact he used to sell salami at the Prater. Salamucci is one of several new shops and restaurants inside the Riesenradplatz buildings, including a themed ice cream parlour named Eismeer in memory of the 1912 North Pole expedition of the famous Austrian globetrotter Julius Payer.
In the souvenir shop of the Sulzer family, meanwhile, visitors will be lead through four different themed areas – the Emperor’s room, Mozart room, Liliput room and snow dome. A joke shop has also been added.
Behind the Riesenradplatz, the famous Wurstelprater – the main body of the amusement park – is also about to witness some changes. Here Calafati gives his name to a gravity ride, Calafati’s Magical Rotor, operated by Thomas Sittler, while the concessionaire Dostal has plans to build an adrenaline ride called Turboschaukel on the site of an old takeaway. There’s also a planned comeback for the Sturmboot (Storm Boat) and Chaos Pendle rides, the latter built and operated by Funtime Handels.
Funtime uses the Prater as a test site for many of its attractions and less than a year ago introduced a ride called the Tornado. Visitors will be able to enjoy it again in 2008 along with last season’s other big talking point, Kern-Waldmann’s Widalpenbahn River Splash by ABC Engineering.
Starting October, a new laser show is planned each night around midnight as the Stargate/Future Zone nightclubs combine for a multimedia spectacular. As the roof of the club retracts, guests inside the Cockpit-Bar/VIP-Lounge will have a perfect view, and an additional 200-seat viewing area will also be available, themed in keeping with the amusement park. There are also some planned improvements at the Eisvogel restaurant, where diners can sample fine wine and cheeses in the vast terrace overlooking the Giant Wheel, plus a number of new midway games.