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Spreepark Ferris wheel in 1985
|Location||Plänterwald, Germany (East Germany 1969-1990), Berlin, Germany|
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.
1969-1989 – Kulturpark Plänterwald
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 the GDR, and the only such park in either East or West Berlin.
1989-2001 – Spreepark Berlin
The VEB Kulturpark Berlin was completed in 1991, after the reunification, by mixed municipal authorities in Berlin. Out of a total of seven applicants, the Spreepark Berlin GmbH company received the contract. Crucially, the references of Norbert Witte of the company were not properly checked.
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 had previously been the case.
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.
Beginning 1999, the park had to cope with large debts. The 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.
In 2001, Spreepark GmbH announced that they were insolvent.
On 18 January 2002, Norbert Witte, together with his family and closest coworkers, moved to Lima, Peru. They shipped six attractions (Fliegender Teppich, Butterfly, Spider, Baby-Flug, Wild River, and Jet Star) in 20 shipping containers, having been allowed to do so by the authorities, who believed they were being sent for repair.
Since 2002, the park has not opened for visitors. In August 2002, the park was declared insolvent. Debts at a level of €11,000,000 remained, and the area was allowed to fall into disrepair. The Ferris wheel still stands but has not operated since the park's closure; likewise, the remains of other attractions can still be found on-site.
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. 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.
In March 2014, the City of Berlin bought the Spreepark, and guided tours ended. The city chose Grün Berlin to restore the park, and their plan, presented to the public in 2018, is to restore it with an overlay of cultural and ecological content.
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. This indicates the fires may have been deliberately set.
- Kutz, Jens Peter. "Spreepark: Berlin's Sleeping Beauty". Failed Architecture. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
- Oltermann, Philip (7 January 2015). "Save the dinosaur: the rollercoaster story of East Berlin's forgotten theme park". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
- "Spreepark: Disney World of Socialism". Sometimes Interesting. 30 April 2015. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
- King, Aurora (4 July 2014). "Last Days of Berlin's Abandoned Spreepark". Creosote Journal. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
- Aitmain. "Spreepark". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
- Official video on the Vimeo channel of directors Tim Main & Joe Dixon
- The week that was: World - Times Online
- "Spreepark-Führung" (in German). Archived from the original on January 13, 2014.
- Jens Anker; Florentine Anders (26 March 2014). "Berlin kauft Spreepark für zwei Millionen Euro zurück". Berliner Morgenpost (in German).
- Ade Adepitan (9 December 2019). "Restoring the theme park abandoned for 20 years" (video, 2 mins 2 sec.). BBC News.
- "Spreepark". Grün Berlin. Retrieved 9 December 2019.
- "Abandoned Berlin theme park burned down". The local.de. 11 August 2014. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
- Sacha Szabo; Christopher Flade (2011). Vom 'Kulturpark Berlin' zum 'Spreepark Plänterwald': Eine VergnügungskulTOUR durch den berühmten Berliner Freizeitpark. Studien zur Unterhaltungswissenschaft (in German). 4. Marburg: Tectum. ISBN 9783828827486.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Spreepark.|
- Berliner Spreepark.de, historical and fan site (in German)
- Spreepark.de, another historical site, archived on 31 August 2019 (in German)
- Showdown in Spreepark on Resident Advisor
- Obsidian Urbex Photography | Photos and information (in English)