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Spreepark – The Abandoned “Disneyland” of East Berlin

Nikola Petrovski

In the Berlin district of Treptow-Köpenick, formerly a part of GDR-controlled East Berlin, there is an old, abandoned amusement park called the Spreepark.

Its original name was the Kulturpark Plänterwald Berlin and it opened after construction was completed in 1969.

Euroloop Europark 2. Author: Eliedion CC BY-SA 3.0

Euroloop Europark 2. Author: Eliedion CC BY-SA 3.0

Situated on a plot of land that stretched over 290,000 square meters near the River Spree–hence the name Spreepark–it was the only amusement park in East Germany.

The amusement park was astoundingly popular. It received 1.5 million visitors per year and earned the nickname the ‘Disney World of Socialism’. This park was furnished with rides and curiosities imported from countries outside of the socialist regime.

The roller coaster in Spreepark 

The roller coaster in Spreepark 

The most famous ride of them all was the Riesenrad, or Ferris wheel. It featured 36 cabins but was later expanded to 40 cabins for the 40th anniversary of GDR in October of 1989.

Spreepark Ferris wheel in 1985. Author: Franke, Klaus CC BY-SA 3.0 DE

Spreepark Ferris wheel in 1985. Author: Franke, Klaus CC BY-SA 3.0 DE

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the world was suddenly open to the people of the GDR. With this boundary removed, people were eager to explore other places, and so the visitors to the Spreepark turned from millions to a few.

Back when visitors were counted in millions. Author: Settnik, Bernd CC BY-SA 3.0 DE

Back when visitors were counted in millions. Author: Settnik, Bernd CC BY-SA 3.0 DE

The park eventually closed its gates in 2001. Even though it is closed, Spreepark will be preserved; a contractual obligation stipulates that the land must be in use as an amusement park until that date. However, there is no guarantee that the park will be kept safe from vandals and the passage of time. In 2004, Norbert Witte made an unsuccessful attempt to smuggle $20 million worth of cocaine from Peru inside the Flying Carpet ride.

The abandoned Spreepark in Plänterwald. Author: Geierunited~commonswiki

The abandoned Spreepark in Plänterwald. Author: Geierunited~commonswiki

The Ferris wheel no longer turns, and keeps still even as time continues to pass.

Spreepark Riesenrad – The Ferris wheel today. Author: Andreas Steinhoff

Spreepark Riesenrad – The Ferris wheel today. Author: Andreas Steinhoff

On the evening of the 10th of August 2014, the park was severely damaged by a fire. The report that the firefighters later gave stated that two separate blazes happened, indicating a deliberately set fire.

It was forgotten until the action film Hanna captured the abandoned park in a few scenes. But there is hope for the park’s future.

The good times. Author: Spremberg, Joachim CC BY-SA 3.0 DE

The good times. Author: Spremberg, Joachim CC BY-SA 3.0 DE

An announcement was recently made that the park will re-open in 2018. The original rides have now been lost, although the famous Ferris wheel is still standing and awaits the park’s new visitors to ride to its 40-meter zenith.
https://youtu.be/aHJAoR0Jw58