The Spreepark in southeastern Berlin has been abandoned for the last 10 years, and it looks like it. Each part of the park is scattered with remnants from the previous three decades, making a hodgepodge of bizarre entertainment, children’s rides, and life-size dinosaur statues.
Originally constructed by the communist government in East Germany in 1969 as the VEB Kulturpark Plänterwald, the “Kulti” stood until the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years later. It thrived throughout the communist era with 1.7 million visitors annually.
The controversial amusement park operator Norbert Witte took it over in 1991, renaming the park “Spreepark.” He replaced the primarily asphalted surface with a grass and water landscape and installed a number of rides which he bought from the insolvency of the Mirapolis amusement park near Paris and moved to Berlin. Witte changed the scenery multiple times, even adding an English village. Unbeknownst to police and Berliners, Witte had also become involved in smuggling cocaine, concealing it in pieces of ride equipment shipped between Peru and Germany during his time as park administrator.
Due partly to his criminal activities and due partly to lackluster visitor numbers, Spreepark was shut down to the public in 2002, and Witte was tried on smuggling charges two years later.
The result of this shutdown was the amusement park which has slowly fallen into dereliction and has been taken over by nature. The whole park was featured in the film “Hanna,” and the main sites are prominent in the film’s climax.
A number of features were destroyed in a fire in 2014 which was caused by arson., following which security was strengthened with a new perimeter fence and permanent security personnel and dogs. In 2016 the site was taken over by the company Grün Berlin GmbH, owned by the City of Berlin, with the objective of transforming the site into a location for arts and culture. Plans were proposed in late 2018 and are being considered for implementation in several years.
As of May 2019, many of the previous attractions of the park have been removed. However, the Ferris wheel and the “Fresswürfel” restaurant from the “Kulti” period remain, as do the “Spreeblitz” rollercoaster, the “Cinema 2000,” the facade of the English village, the cup carousel, and the artificial rock of the “Grand Canyon” wild water ride from Norbert Witte’s Spreepark period.