Oktoberfest - ein Fest der Landeshauptstadt München
Photo: Sebastian Lehner

Small Ferris Wheel (Russenrad)

Small Ferris wheel: A piece of “Oide” on the “new” Wiesn

The Russenrad is a Munich institution. The small Ferris wheel is not only at Oktoberfest, but also at Auer Dult. The ride has been turning for over 90 years – including an antique concert organ and an extraordinary operating system.

What’s special: a piece of family history on the Wiesn

The “Russian Swing,” as the ride was originally named, has been in Munich four times a year since 1925. It celebrated its premiere on the Auer Dult, with Josef Esterl as the operator. He’s the grandfather of Edith Simon and her brother Herbert Koppenhöfer – the siblings are the third generation to run the small Ferris wheel. Up to a height of 14 meters, you climb up in one of the twelve colorful gondolas. At the Mariahilfplatz this is enough for a great view, while at Oktoberfest it’s instead one of the smaller rides. Together with the Krinoline, it embodies a little bit of the flair of the “Oide Wiesn,” but just outside this on the large festival grounds. For comparison: The big Ferris wheel carries the passengers up to 50 meters.

Russenrad: for families and fans of coziness

Children are usually magically attracted to the old, baroque-decorated music organ. It jingles and rattles so loudly that it can be heard well even on the already tumultuous Theresienwiese. And grandparents are usually happy to give the grandchildren a ride – after all, they themselves often got on the ride when they were children. In addition, there are fans of the rather cozy rides who don’t want to catapult themselves into the air, but rather want to be carried. And of course, there are the fans of old musical instruments whose eyes glow when they stand in front of the decorated 69 Bursens dance organ. It comes from Antwerp and, built in 1924, has been working hard for almost 100 years.

The Russenrad for backseat drivers: water and operation

Sometimes it seems as if the individual gondolas are just breezing by the spectators. Operator Herbert Koppenhöfer must have dipped the electrodes too deep into salt water. Because the operation of the Russenrad still works exactly as it did almost 100 years ago. Electrodes are dipped into a tub filled with water and salt using a crank. The deeper they sink, the faster the drive motor turns. After about ten laps Koppenhöfer cranks the contacts out again: the engine slows down and the drive comes to an end.

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