Spreepark is a former amusement park in the north of the Plänterwald in the Berlin district Treptow-Köpenick (formerly part of the GDR-controlled East Berlin). It was also known by its earlier name Kulturpark Plänterwald Berlin.

Spreepark Ferris wheel in 1985
LocationPlänterwald, Germany (East Germany 1969-1990), Berlin, Germany
Opened1969 (1969)
Closed2002 (2002)

History edit

The Ferris wheel in 2017

1969–1989 – Kulturpark Plänterwald edit

The entertainment park was opened in 1969 as Kulturpark Plänterwald, covering an area of 29.5 hectares. The area is situated in the north of the Plänterwald, next to the river Spree. It was the only constant entertainment park in East Germany, and the only such park in either East or West Berlin.[citation needed]

1989–2001 – Spreepark Berlin edit

The VEB Kulturpark Berlin was de-nationalized in 1991, after East and West Germany were reunified, by the municipal authorities of Berlin. There were seven applicants to run the park; the company Spreepark Berlin GmbH received the contract. Crucially, the references of Norbert Witte of the company were not properly checked.[citation needed]

Under the Spreepark GmbH, new attractions were added and visitor numbers reached 1.5 million per annum. Later, the concept was changed, and the park was gradually transformed into a more Western-style amusement park. An entrance fee (adults: 29 DM, children: 27 DM) covering all individual attractions was charged, instead of visitors paying for each individual ride as before.[citation needed]

The asphalted surface around the Ferris wheel was taken up and converted into a water landscape. Roller coasters, two game water courses, a stage, a Western town and an English village were later added to the park.[citation needed]

From 1999 the park had large debts. An increase in the admission fee to 30 DM per person and the lack of parking contributed to a drop in visitor numbers, until, in 2001, only 400,000 visitors entered the park.[citation needed] In 2001, Spreepark GmbH announced that they were insolvent.[1]

After 2002 edit

On 18 January 2002, Norbert Witte, together with his family and closest coworkers, moved to Lima, Peru. The authorities permitted them to ship six attractions (Fliegender Teppich, Butterfly, Spider, Baby-Flug, Wild River, and Jet Star), ostensibly for repair, in 20 shipping containers.[2][3][4]

Since 2002, the park has not opened for visitors; in August 2002 it was declared insolvent. Debts at a level of €11,000,000 remained, and the area was allowed to fall into disrepair. The Ferris wheel was dismantled in 2021 and the parts kept for potential re-use.[5] The remains of other attractions are still on the site.[6]

In 2011, a scene for the action film Hanna was filmed at the park,[7] as well as the music video for the single "Run Dry" by German band Sizarr.[8]

Norbert Witte failed in his attempt to run a "Lunapark" in Lima. On 19 May 2004, he was sentenced to seven years in jail for attempting to smuggle 180 kg of cocaine with a value of £14 million from Peru to Germany in the masts of the Fliegender Teppich (Flying Carpet) ride.[9] In October 2006, a Peruvian court sentenced Wittes' son, Marcel Witte, to 20 years for drug smuggling.

After 2011, guided tours were offered to the public at restricted times.[10]

In March 2014, the City of Berlin bought the Spreepark, and guided tours ended.[11] On the evening of 10 August 2014, major parts of the park were destroyed in a fire. Reports indicated that firefighters discovered two blazes 200 m apart that soon merged, suggesting that the fires might have been deliberately set.[12]

The city chose Grün Berlin to restore the park, with a plan presented to the public in 2018 to restore it with an overlay of cultural and ecological content.[13][14]

Gallery edit

References edit

  1. ^ Kutz, Jens Peter (14 July 2014). "Spreepark: Berlin's Sleeping Beauty". Failed Architecture. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  2. ^ Oltermann, Philip (7 January 2015). "Save the dinosaur: the rollercoaster story of East Berlin's forgotten theme park". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  3. ^ "Spreepark: Disney World of Socialism". Sometimes Interesting. 30 April 2015. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  4. ^ King, Aurora (4 July 2014). "Last Days of Berlin's Abandoned Spreepark". Creosote Journal. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  5. ^ "The Redevelopment of the Ferris Wheel". Spreepark. Retrieved 30 July 2022.
  6. ^ Aitmain. "Spreepark". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  7. ^ "Peregrym Stars as a Former Gymnast Who's Forced into a World She Gave up".
  8. ^ Official video on the Vimeo channel of directors Tim Main & Joe Dixon
  9. ^ The week that was: World - Times Online
  10. ^ "Spreepark-Führung" (in German). Archived from the original on January 13, 2014.
  11. ^ Jens Anker; Florentine Anders (26 March 2014). "Berlin kauft Spreepark für zwei Millionen Euro zurück". Berliner Morgenpost (in German).
  12. ^ "Abandoned Berlin theme park burned down". The local.de. 11 August 2014. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  13. ^ Ade Adepitan (9 December 2019). "Restoring the theme park abandoned for 20 years" (video, 2 mins 2 sec.). BBC News.
  14. ^ "Spreepark". Grün Berlin. Archived from the original on 9 December 2019. Retrieved 9 December 2019.

Further reading edit

  • Sacha Szabo; Christopher Flade (2011). Vom 'Kulturpark Berlin' zum 'Spreepark Plänterwald': Eine VergnügungskulTOUR durch den berühmten Berliner Freizeitpark. Studien zur Unterhaltungswissenschaft (in German). Vol. 4. Marburg: Tectum. ISBN 9783828827486.

External links edit

52°29′09″N 13°29′16″E / 52.48583°N 13.48778°E / 52.48583; 13.48778