Visiting Berlin’s Spreepark

The Spreepark Ferris wheel. Photo (cc) flickr user King of Jive

The Spreepark—East Germany’s only amusement park—opened in 1969.  Visitors numbering 1.7 million came each year to have fun alongside the river Spree and to ride the giant Ferris wheel.  But with the falling of the Berlin Wall, it’s popularity began to decline before it closed in the early 2000s.  Now the only way is in during the parties that are occasionally hosted there, through the television screen (it was most recently featured in the feature film Hanna), and over the fence.  Come back with me to a day almost four years ago when I made the exciting journey for a brief glimpse…

That day, we began on a much-walked path along the Spree in Berlin. We were headed to an abandoned amusement park, which was pretty much my urban exploration creepy photo fun time day dream. If my memory serves, as it so often doesn’t, we were heading there on my specific request. Der Irische Berliner had written about it before, and it felt like the kind of landmark that belonged at the very top of the marauder’s guide to Berlin that I would never write.

Getting in was easy enough (and he’s written out instructions here) and involved only a chain link fence. Through a bit of brush and then: HOLY WHOA AN ABANDONED AMUSEMENT PARK. It was everything I hoped it would be. There were cars shaped like heads with giant mustaches (you sat in nose area) sitting on overgrown tracks. There was a huge, house sized joker’s face whose cavernous mouth could be walked into and through. Vines hung from tracks. Swan boats lay in a pile. Life-sized plastic dinosaurs grazed.

The glory didn’t last long, however. The place is teeming with security, and we had one on us within fifteen minutes. We split up and I soon found myself alone in the brush—the security officer had chosen to follow the other trail—and uncertain of how I was going to get back over the fence without help. After a bit of pacing I heard Der Irische Berliner calling my name. He was outside, and soon I was too, plopped back out of the world of action adventure parks and action adventure movies and onto a path where an elderly couple were walking their tiny dog.

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