Monday, 13 June 2016

Why the Prater is not a Disneyland

250 Years as an amusement park

 The Prater was first mentioned in 1162, when Emperor Friedrich I. gave the land to a noble family called de Prato. The Prater wasn't always the place we know today. It was used as an imperial hunting ground for the aristocracy. In 1766 the Austrian Emperor Josef II donated the area to the Viennese as a public leisure area. Several restaurants and cafés were established. It became the most popular place to go for a dance with its huge ballrooms and music cafés. You could hear the classic dance music from musicians like Johann Strauss or Josef Lanner. Soon rides and attractions followed.

The grit of the Wiener Prater

A long tradition of petty crimes and prostitution exists in this beloved Viennese amusement park. Even though both were banned from the Prater, especially those juvenile delinquents keep popping up in the park. The latest crime on a larger scale happened at the beginning of December 2015 when a group of ten robbed around 19 visitors, the youngest only 10 and the oldest around 70.
Nowadays the center of all crime in the Prater is actually the Praterstern, a train station nearby, where especially at night shady things happen. People get drunk and drugs get sold. People, especially women get assaulted and some even raped, like the student who got raped in the station's restroom by three juvenile refugees. Because of the ongoing crime at that train station the police want to install more security cameras and the politicians are thinking about banning alcohol from the hall of Praterstern station.
Ever since the Prater was opened it has been infamous for crime, not only real crime but also staged crime. Many movies were shot in the Prater like “The Third Man” or even a James Bond with Timothy Dalton as well as many local productions like the crime series “Tatort” or the children detectives of “Tom Turbo”.
Since the dancing establishments for Waltz and Polka disappeared, new clubs like the Pratersauna, Fluc and Praterdome have appeared and they are now the epicenter of clubbing and because to get to most of these clubs you need to pass through Pratestern, you will most likely find someone there who sells drugs or has already bought some on his way to the club.

The Owners of the Prater

Prater attractions are owned by various families and individuals. Among others the Sittler-Koidls, who own popular attractions like „Break Dance“ or „Volare“. Probably the most iconic attraction, the Ferris wheel is owned just by one person Hans-Peter Petritsch. Family ownership of Prater attractions is probably the biggest difference to Disneyland, which is owned by just one corporation.

Food and Drinks 

But what is the main difference between Prater and the world famous Disneyland as far as food is concerned?
In a theme park you can find a lot of theme restaurants which sell exactly the same food on every corner. So you don't have so many options. The prices are also very high.
In Prater there is a huge variety and surely you will find what you like without searching long .
Here is a list of the most popular restaurants, pubs and cafés:

The Schweizerhaus is the most famous restaurant and beer house in this giant entertainment park. It is being visited by thousands of tourists but also natives. The signature dish of Schweizerhaus is a pork knuckle that is known by the name of
´´Stelze´´.  As a side dish you can choose cabbage, potatoes and mustard. Schweizerhaus has a huge selection of beer made in Austria, Germany and Czech Republic.

Kolariks Praterfee is a family restaurant established in 1991 and situated in the Prater Hauptallee. The founder of the Kolarik restaurants and - fun fact - also the inventor of the  bouncy castle, was Elisabeth Kolarik. Here you can enjoy meals like pizza and spare ribs or  a coffee with apple strudel.

Café Riesenrad

What about drinking your coffee while looking at the giant wheel called Riesenrad? This modern coffee house with traditional cuisine is visited daily by lots of tourists and it is situated at the entrance to the Prater. Restaurant Zum Englischen Reiter

Do you want to try the original Vienna cuisine and be surrounded by everything that is Viennese? If so, the Restaurant Zum Englischen Reiter is the right place for you. The food choice that awaits you is huge.

Who visits the Prater?

One of the main differences between classic Disneyland and the Prater is the fact that you wouldn’t go to Disneyland without kids. All the cartoons, princesses, castles… It would be kind of strange for an adult to go there alone, because Disneyland is meant to be a family place. Unlike that, the Prater is full of people that go there alone, or with friends.  You are more likely to see a group of friends than families with children, because it is more fun for young people and it’s also a better adventure for them. The access to the area is free and open 24 hours, so you can always see some drunk guys, or homeless people there. What you won’t see are mascots, or parades, that would give you “that family-feeling“. Many Viennese kids are actually skipping school there. You can typically find them on the Tagada. 

Who else visits the Prater? Why us of course! My Extasy experience was pretty bad. 
This attraction was too fast and furious. I was there with my classmate and she liked it. 
I don’t know if she is a human. I had a head- and stomach-ache for the rest of the day. I do not suggest you go there if you are drunk or have heart problems, or you are old.
I leave you with a picture of this attraction, so you know where you should not go. 
You are welcome. 

Look how disgusting it looks.