Vienna is well-known for its Christmas markets, of which it has an impressively large number. Thirteen are listed by the Vienna Tourist Board, and these are supplemented by a wide variety of unofficial popup shops selling everything from glühwein to crockery. This year the market at Rathausplatz in the heart of the city featured a small funfair operated by Keinrath Freizeitbetriebe, and though the ride selection was limited it nevertheless included both a Ferris wheel and a small roller coaster. (Our trip this weekend was a musical exchange visit with Saint Bartholomew's Choir, and coasters were not part of the itinerary. That said, we always make time for the important things in life).
Wiener Schlittenfahrt (#2402) is the winter name for a SBF figure eight spinning coaster that premiered at the start of last year as Pirates Coaster. Its first event took place just weeks before we spent several days in Austria, and though we did our best to get to it we couldn't quite shoehorn a stop into what was already a jam-packed itinerary. Today we found the ride set up adjacent to a building we were planning to visit anyway, giving us ample opportunity to try it out. Vienna Sleigh Ride was one of the better examples of the genre with plenty of spinning, no jarring on the short course, and brightly coloured theming within the track boundaries. We rode twice, once during the day and once in the evening, and both laps were good fun if not exactly memorable.
15th December 2017
Wiener Prater is a permanent fairground, with all rides operated by independent concessions. This means that opening hours are dependent on weather and the alignment of the stars, and this is particularly true during the winter months when guest volumes are radically down from the summer peak. We made a number of short visits over the course of several days, and the selection of available rides was different on each occasion. The peak was on Sunday afternoon, when five coasters were operational, though sadly the list didn't include Megablitz, the Scenic Railway, or our missing credit, Race, which was evidently closed for the season.
Our first visit was late on Friday night, and the only operating attractions were those at the front of the park. The only one we were interested in was Insider, the Maurer spinning coaster formerly of Tokyo Dome City that was fully enclosed shortly after being assembled in 2013. The building has since been upgraded with a stylised painting of a roller coaster on the exterior walls that is illuminated at night by a set of colour changing light strips hidden underneath a stylised mesh. The entrance to the ride is at the northern corner of the building, where an automatic turnstile leads to a set of steps, a narrow corridor, and a moderately sized mirror maze that sits above the ride hardware. There is a short descent from there to the boarding platform where one can enjoy the novelty of a restraint arrangement that doesn't require a supplemental chain and seatbelt (as seen on the many Chinese copies of the design). The on-board experience is superb, with laser effects and a sound track that make the ride so much more than the sum of its parts.
On trip two we decided not to ride the Volare despite the lack of any queue and enthusiastic staff encouraging potential customers. Instead, we headed to the back of the park for Maskerade, a ride that I'd very much enjoyed last year. Sunlight was streaming directly into the show building at the time we boarded, making what should have been a dark interior as bright as day, and while this didn't impact on the thrill level I'd strongly encourage those with the choice to ride after dark, as the experience is somewhat better when one cannot see a haphazard pile of maintenance equipment resting on the floor next to the brake run!
We hadn't planned on going back to the park for a third time but decided on the spur of the moment to visit the Roller Coaster Restaurant, another installation of the food delivery technology popularised by the installation at the Europa ParkFood-Loop in 2011. The designers have evidently continued to enhance their product offering, as food was moved to the various tracks by a pair of robots, and orders were placed using handheld tablet computers rather than the mounted version seen in Germany. The menu was basic, limited essentially to pasta and burgers, but the quality was reasonable and the pricing was competitive with local restaurants. During our meal someone's birthday was marked with a light and music show, a polished presentation that made it clear that parties and celebrations make up a sizeable percentage of repeat business.