Hunting for an Abandoned Amusement Park in Berlin
Of everywhere I've travelled to, I've returned to Berlin the most. The city remains my favourite to this day, no one trip has been the same. Except each time I've visited the city, I've stayed with friends living there. Having seen the East Side Gallery a couple of times, and checked out Checkpoint Charlie, this time was different. We didn't head for the real touristy things, we spent our day searching out an abandoned amusement park.
Taking the train to Treptower Park, we walked, attempting to follow the river, for a while. We took various routes, and even asked a man cycling past for directions, to which he said "Follow the river". It was a dull, dark day, and we wandered around the river passing little restaurant boats, and eventually finding remnants of the abandoned park, along with a metallic creaking noise that got louder as we got closer...
Spreepark, previously known as Kulturpark Planterwald, was originally built in 1969 celebrating the 20th anniversary of the GDR. The 29.5 hectare park was the only one of it's kind in the GDR and hugely popular, hosting around 1.7 million people a year in its heyday. Of course with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the GDR were no longer able to pick up the tab for this park & it was sold, tho' even that took some time.
The park was sold to Norbett Witte, with the land lease being made out in his wife, Pia's, name. He had a colourful past, already a carinval operator, he was responsible for 7 people's death's when he crashed a crane into a carousel whilst attempting to fix a rollercoaster, 15 others were injured in the accident. Witte and his wife reopened the park under the name Spreepark in 1992. Having spent a lot of money getting the park up to Western European standards, Witte had hoped to attract similar numbers as the GDR had, but the masses never really came, and when numbers were dwindling down and down, the park eventually shut in 2001.
Claiming insolvency, Witte disappeared to Lima. Two years later he was arrested for drug smuggling a large amount of cocaine. Originally he'd planned on building a park there, because a friend told him it would be a good idea, even taking some of the attractions with him- telling the German's they were going for repairs.
Since then, the park has fallen into disrepair... but recently it has been sold. The park had even been up for sale on eBay, and apparently the daughter was giving tours of the park and had been living on site in a caravan until the city of Berlin(!) bought it. Now the lease states the site must be used as an amusement park until 2062, but there are rumours that the city want to crush it and built flats on it. In spite of the lease agreements, and it wouldn't be the first time they've found loopholes to do it, either.
Now the city own it, it's become a bit more difficult to get in- if that's your thing- a new fence, and security provided. Tho' all of that didn't deter some delinquents from burning down the 'Old England' area of the park in August 2014. Now security has been beefed up even more, including warning signs that dogs patrol the premises, tho' we didn't see or hear any.
The park is pretty creepy, entirely abandoned, with leaf's growing up through the attractions. Mel and I aren't the type's to trespass, so we saw it all from the the fence side, but it sure is weird. Walking past abandoned rollercoaster carriages and empty tracks. An amusement park lacking laughter, and exuding sadness. We passed abandoned kiosks and windowless ticket booths. Dinosaur's laid on their side helplessly. Angry swan boats lined up next to each other inside the fence.
It was pretty quiet around the park the day we went, with just a few jogger's, and an eery breeze rustling thru the tree's hiding the park from the outside world. The ferris wheel moves in the wind- a 90 year old woman broke into the park in summer of 2013 & the wind whisked the huge ferris wheel around, leaving her stranded at the top and needing rescue. The thing was moving at some speed in the wind the day we walked around, and the loud mechanical creeks of something that shouldn't be moving haunt you around the perimeter of the park.
No one knows for sure how long the rest of the park will survive, would you want to visit this abandoned park?