Berlin’s not-so-hidden secret is about to disappear. Spreepark Berlin, the abandoned amusement park, has been bought back by the city. A local has been giving tours for a few years, but after April’s over, the future of the tours and the park is up in the air.
Take a tour of Spreepark Berlin to get a very different experience of Berlin parks than usual.
Ferris wheel in the background, with the “dinosaur graveyard” in front. Photo by: snostein
The story behind Spreepark Berlin
An amusement park in Berlin? Why would anyone abandon that? Well, that depends who you ask. Spreepark Berlin started its life as the Kulturpark Plänterwald (Cultural Park Plänterwald), which stood from 1969-1989. It was the only amusement park in the GDR and saw up to 1.7 million visitors a year. After German reunification, a family took it over. The city gave them a contract with near-impossible conditions. The forest surrounding the park would be protected land. No parking lots or extra parking spaces were allowed to be built, and German law states that if you don’t have parking spaces, you can’t have signs directing people to the park, either. Then, visitor numbers were limited to 260,000 per year – when they would have needed 400,000 just to break even.
In 2001, Spreepark Berlin declared bankruptcy. The amusement park was closed to visitors and abandoned in 2002.
Roller coaster tunnel. Photo by anvosa has been cropped from the original.
Spreepark Berlin: The Present and Tours
From 2002 to 2009, Spreepark Berlin was abandoned and nature took its course. Then in 2009, the first tours through the park were offered. People jumped at the chance to see the roller coasters and Ferris wheel gone to seed. Christopher Flade leads the tours and, when there’s extra demand, a second group is led by the daughter of the park’s last owners, Sabrina Witte.
Plus, since 2011, Cafe Mythos has been operating near the park’s front entrance. With beer, soft drinks, sausages ’cause it’s Germany, and soft-serve ice cream ’cause it’s not an amusement park without ice cream – the cafe has everything you need for a lazy afternoon in the sun. The matron of the Witte family is still there serving with a smile. But the winds are a-changing. The city of Berlin bought back the land in March 2014, and after April 2014, it’ll be Berlin’s domain. It doesn’t look like the ruins will hang around.
Go and see it while you still can. Tours go twice a day on Saturdays and Sundays, through April 2014. Here’s a link to book a Spreepark Berlin tour. They’re in German, though, so you’ll either have to understand the language, or not mind! You can’t get into the park otherwise, though. The price of €15 includes a walk that lasts at least two hours (sometimes up to three and a half!) and official permission to take pictures.