This now abandoned entertainment / theme park was first opened in 1969 and took the name for which it is more popularly known, Kulturpark Plänterwald. I must admit I had never known it by this name as my interest grew in the place after it had closed. In 1989 a company named the Spreepark Berlin GmbH won the contract to take over the park following reunification and the amusement park was renamed Spreepark owing to its close proximity to the river Spree.
Under the new ownership additional attractions were added and visitor numbers grew to a maximum of 1.5 million per year. Following changes in the pricing structure of the park which saw shift from customers paying for individual rides to an entrance fee style concept, visitor numbers began to decline. In 1999 while struggling to cope with large debts the entrance prices were increased which saw visitor numbers drop even further to 400,000 in 2001, which was the last year which the park would open to the public.
After the closure of the park in January 2002 Norbet Witte one of the Directors of the Spreepark Berlin GmbH Group, whos references were not adequately checked during the tender process for the purchase of the park back in 1989 moved to Lima in Peru along with a small group of the more senior employees. They Shipped six of the attractions to Peru with them under the guise of having them repaired. In actual fact, Norbert Witte had actually planned to open another park named ‘Lunapark’ in Lima using the stolen rides. In the interim back in Germany, Spreepark failed to open for the 2002 season and in August 2002 the park was declared insolvent with 11 Million Euro in debts unpaid.
After failing to open the newly planned park in Lima for reasons I cannot track down, Witte’s Wife and daughter then moved back to Germany in late 2002. Norbert Witte was then arrested 2003 and sentenced in 2004 to seven years in jail after attempting to smuggle £14,000,000 worth of cocaine back into Germany in one of the legs from one of the stolen rides the Fliegender Teppich or Flying Carpet. He was only to Serve 4 years of the sentence in a low-security prison in Germany. Some 2 years later after a lengthy court proceeding Wittes son Marcel was sentenced to 20 years for the drug smuggling after being apprehended in Lima. Information suggest that he is still imprisoned there in poor conditions despite his families best efforts to have him transferred back to Germany.
Rumour has it according to a Huffington post article which I found the amusement park was then put up for auction on eBay of all places with a supposed price of $2,200,000. I’m not quite sure how legitimate that was as the posting has long since been removed. Guided tours were offered of the defunct theme park between 2011 and 2014 by Wittes daughter, however in March 2014 the park was purchased by the City of Berlin and the guided tours were ceased.
In August 2014 shortly after our visit parts of the derelict amusement park were destroyed in a fire which is believed to have been an arson attack. Recent reports suggest that after the blaze park security was increased and a new perimeter fence has been installed, I have nothing to support this than reading comments from more than a few people who have been so I apologise if this is incorrect. The land is apparently under a restriction order which requires that it is to be used as an amusement or recreation park until 2061, we shall see if that stays valid given the City’s purchase of the land.
Visited with Andy K of Behind Closed Doors, Lowri, Scott of Darbians photography, Stussy and Carl. A change of pace on this one, we ditched the bags in the care and I threw on my 24-105 for a bit of walk around shooting, no tripods, bottle of cider in my pocket, baking hot sunny weather and this giant abandoned theme park as our playground 🙂 . Spree park had been another one of those well known places that I’ve had on my to do list for sometime so it was great to finally see it. I must admit though I was mildly disappointed in what remained. The obvious highlight it the Ferris Wheel which still spins round of its own accord and makes to most incredibly creepy groaning noises as it moves. Most of the dinosaurs and swan boats have taken a battering but the pirates ship was still in reasonably good shape. It was an enjoyable day out for sure but a shame there wasn’t more left of the rides and a little less graffiti. Enjoy the photos:
Anjoyed this report? want to see more from this place? then check out the excellent photos over at Behind Closed Doors: Spreepark Berlin
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