The Oktoberfest in a traditional style

From Calypso to the Toboggan

At the Oktoberfest, you can hurtle along five loops on the rollercoaster or take a “Fahrt zur Hölle” (Ride to hell) – but there are also more leisurely options. Therefore, we have taken a closer look at the longest established rides and other amusement options. A selection.

A visit to the Oktoberfest can be a journey through time – back into the past of the world’s best known fair. It is hard to believe: approximately 90 percent of the around 150 toss games, carousels, swing rides and other rides have their roots in the 19th century. Some of them are part of the “Oide Wiesn”, the historic version of the Oktoberfest, whilst others have had a fixed place in the fairground lanes for decades. 

 

Calypso: Caribbean feeling in Bavaria

In 1958, the Munich-born showmen Anton Bausch and Eugen Distel, who were always looking for innovations, brought this carousel to the Oktoberfest. Not only the name, but also the sophisticated design of the carousel was inspired by a popular dance from the Caribbean. With its typical 1950s design and its fast pace and unpredictable changes of direction, Calypso soon became a favourite of the visitors to the Oktoberfest. The model, which now turns around in the Oide Wiesn, dates back to 1962.
Location: Oide Wiesn

Video: simply Oktoberfest

Big Bertha: Who is the strongest person at the Oktoberfest?

Tests of strength have always fascinated visitors to fairs. The first evidence of this comes from France in around 1820/40. Since then, there have been many opportunities for people to prove their lifting, pulling, hitting or pressing strength or their lung power. If you want to know what your strength is at the Oktoberfest, you can find out on “Big Bertha” with its 30 kilogram cannon. It is named after a gun from the First World War, which was known for its size and impact. Munich’s Big Bertha works as follows: on a track, the force of your push causes a heavy cannon to slide up to the stop. If it hits the top, a bag is produced by a detonator.
Location: Oide Wiesn

Krinoline: cult carousel accompanied by brass music

The Krinoline was one of the first rides at the Oktoberfest and was an instant attraction. When the carousel turned for the first time in Munich in 1925, it was still operated by muscle power. In around 1937, the new Zugspitzbahn rides became dangerous competition for the leisurely Krinoline. The owner at that time, Michael Grossmann, had to think of something to make Krinoline sustainable for the future. He modernised the ride with an electrical drive with planetary gears and a tension spring swing mechanism. As an additional highlight, he hired a brass band to accompany the ride with atmospheric music. This tradition is continued to this day by Grossmann’s great-grandson Matthias Niederländer to the delight of all Krinoline fans.
Location: Lane C, No. 11

 

Hexenschaukel (Witch’s Swing): the illusion is perfect

The “illusion swing” came to Germany from America at the end of the 19th century. This baffling deception distorts your sense of equilibrium by rotating the room around the swing axis from the outside. This makes the riders believe that they are turning upside down. Only a few examples of illusion swings have endured at fairs to this day. If you dare, you can ride on one at the Oktoberfest. For many residents of Munich, this is a must when they visit the fair.
Location: Lane 23

Fahrt ins Paradies (Journey to Paradise): up and down

The “Fahrt ins Paradies” ride that goes up and down is a nostalgic treasure with guaranteed fun. At a speed of 40 km/h, it goes over four hills and down into the valley. The specialist term for rides like this, which were probably invented in England in the 1880s as switchbacks, is “carousels”. The ride in Munich with its elaborate painting and graceful figures was constructed in 1939 in the well-known Friedrich Heyn carousel factory in Thuringia. After the Second World War, it no longer reflected the zeitgeist, and it was put into storage from the 1950s. It survived in its original condition, was restored in 2003 and today once again takes Oktoberfest fans straight to paradise from the Oide Wiesn.
Location: Oide Wiesn

 

Flea circus: little powerhouses

They pull little coaches, turn carousels or shoot balls into goals: flea circuses were once part of the standard programme at fairs. The flea circus operated by the Mathes family, an old Nuremberg dynasty of showmen, pitched its tents at the Oktoberfest for the first time in 1948 and has remained to this day.
Location: Lane 1, No. 43

Schichtl: To the guillotine

In 1871, Michael August Schichtl, owner of the “Original-Zauber-Spezialitäten-Theater” (Original Magic Speciality Theatre) advertised his “extra gala performance with sensations that have never been seen before” with the words “It’s all happening at the Schichtl”. In the legendary Oktoberfest variety show, which has offered magic, puppet shows, curiosities and much more to a marvelling public since 1869, the “decapitation of a living person by guillotine” is still celebrated today. For years, the variety show has been run by Manfred Schauer. In his parade to the music of the Blues Brothers, he rousingly presents the Schichtl troop before every performance, he captivates the audience with cheeky sayings and comments on the events of the day with a humour ranging from subtle to crude – it is definitely worth seeing, and not just for those who are nostalgic for the old days of the Oktoberfest.
Location: Lane 48

 

Russenrad/Ferris Wheel: fun with a view

The predecessors of the Ferris wheels, the Russian swings, have been popular fair attractions since the 17th century. There has been a Russenrad with an artistic, antique concert organ at the Oktoberfest since 1925. Until 1960, it was the largest transportable Ferris wheel in southern Germany with its twelve gondolas and a height of 14 metres. It can be found not only at the Oktoberfest, but also at the Auer Dult. Today’s large Ferris wheels made of steel, which can also be transported, were only developed from 1960. The Ferris wheel from 1979 at Munich’s Oktoberfest gives you an impressive view over the Theresienwiese and the entire city with its height of 50 metres.
Location: Lane 42 (Russenrad)
Location: Lane 5, No. 2 (Ferris Wheel)

Teufelsrad (Devil’s Wheel): cult ride with Bavarian charm

Even Karl Valentin and Liesl Karlstadt have enjoyed themselves on “Feldl’s Teufelsrad”, which is still at the Oktoberfest today. Children and adults can ride on the disc that rotates faster and faster. The person who stays seated for longest wins. The mood depends on the moderator, who encourages the audience and comments on the “participants” sometimes slightly coarsely, but always with Bavarian charm. On his command, for example “All children between 8 and 14 ride!" or “All men between 20 and 25 in lederhosen!”, the bravest members of the respective target group run to the disc and sit down. The best places are – according to the laws of centrifugal force – in the centre. Then the disc starts moving, first slowly, then faster and faster. One rider after another slides off the disc. Anyone who stays on for too long will be brought off the disc more or less gently with a lasso or a large ball that is hanging from a rope.
Location: Lane 3

 

Swing ride: 100 years of tradition at the Oktoberfest

The Kalb swing ride, which was constructed in 1919, is one of the oldest rides at the Oktoberfest. The ride has decorative parts with original painting by the well-known fairground ride painter Konrad Ochs and is still owned by the Kalb family today.
Location: Oide Wiesn

Toboggan: you can only find this at the Oktoberfest

At the 1908 Oktoberfest, there were even three of these tower slides available for the amusement of the spectators and the riders: it was amusing to watch the riders, who are not always completely sober, ascend the tower by means of a conveyor belt, and the gentle slide down was fun. This is still the case at the Oktoberfest today. The Toboggan is unique in Germany, as it is no longer profitable to transport this traditional ride. The word “toboggan” comes from the language of the Canadian Algonquin Indians and refers to a simple sled.
Location: Matthias-Pschorr-Strasse 57

 

 

Text: Eveline Heinrich; Video: Redline Enterprises; Photos: Christian Kasper, Tommy Loesch, Bernd Roemmelt, Heinz Gebhart, Werner Böhm

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