Vienna’s Plastic But Still Fantastic Ride

By Paul Pinkerton
Publish Date:
One of the older wooden cabins. The Riesenrad giant Ferris wheel in Vienna has replaced its iconic gondolas with more modern plastic ones.

One of the world’s best-known tourist sites is now no longer what it once was!

That iconic image of Vienna and the Prater Ferris wheel has had a makeover and in the process according to some of its fans lost a little of its charm.

As it was before the new cabins were fitted the Riesenrad giant Ferris wheel in Vienna

Those famous red wooden cabins that are slung from the Riesenrad wheel in Vienna have just been replaced and it now appears that they are made from a more high-tech plastic material!


Some purists are unhappy about the change and feel that newer wooden replacements could have been made to replicate the originals exactly.

New cabins are better able to deal with the weather.
Picture by: © Geoff Moore/

However, the newer more up to date specification versions have better insulation extra viewing windows and entrance doors that also seal better. One operator mentioned that the older cabin doors often had snow blowing in through them during the winter but not any more now!


Changed one by one, often at night from January to May in 2016 the new gondolas have all now been replaced by the company Schwaiger & Konsortenan at a cost of around €4million. The old cabins were sold off to the public.

Plastic ride cabin. More modern plastic interior.
Picture by: © Geoff Moore/

The process to change them involved cutting away part of the floor on the old cabins so the walls and roof could be lifted clear. Using large cranes the new floors were installed on the steel grid base frame and the cabins with their new plastic interior walls, windows and metal roof were anchored to the replacement floor and then secured to the beam that allows the cabin to remain upright where ever they are on the rotation cycle of the ride.

Interior of one of the new cabins. 
Picture by: © Geoff Moore/

Those wooden cabins had been on the wheel since around the time of the making of The Third Man film in 1949. Where Hollywood star Orson Welles playing Harry Lime made his first proper speaking appearance in the film talking with his friend Holly Martins played by Joseph Cotton at the very top of the ride and the famous quote by Welles from that sequence: “You know what the fellow said – in Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The Cuckoo Clock!”


The older wooden cabins. The Riesenrad giant Ferris wheel in Vienna as it was before the cabins were changed.
Picture by: © Geoff Moore/

Currently, there are 15 gondolas on the ride but when it was built in 1897 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Emperor Franz Joseph by British Royal Navy Officer, Lt Walter Bassett Bassett it had 30.

Damaged during World War II fighting for the city it was decided to reduce the cabins after it was repaired following the peace. It had remained the world’s tallest Ferris wheel at 212feet until 1985 when a taller one was built in Japan.

The Riesenrad giant Ferris wheel in Vienna appears on millions of items.

Appearing on just about every type of marketing and promotional product you can imagine, fridge magnets, key rings, mugs and tee shirts the Riesenrad ride in Vienna still packs them in after 130 years.

Although many will have little idea that the cabins are more space age than the rest of the wheel now!

Source for all images and article – Thanks to Geoff Moore :: Travel photographer, writer and blogger Geoff Moore has been a member of the British Guild of Travel Writers for 10 years and has traveled the world for over 30 years.

If you have any comments then please drop us a message on our Outdoor Revival facebook page

If you have a good story to tell or blog let us know about it on our FB page, we’re also happy for article or review submissions, we’d love to hear from you.

We live in a beautiful world, get out there and enjoy it.

Outdoor Revival – Reconnecting us all with the Outdoors