Spreepark was the East German equivalent of Disneyland, first opened in 1969 in the middle of Treptow Park, Berlin. It was left to rot after being declared bankrupt in 2001 and today is an eerie place to mooch around, a place where you’ll hang with decapitated fibreglass dinosaurs, rusting tea-cup rides and gaze up at the massive, multi-coloured Ferris wheel which will never turn again.
The amusement park, which was originally called Kulturpark Plänterwald, was in its heyday a popular place to take the sprogs – it was the only theme park in the DDR and 1.7 million visitors a year tumbled through its turnstiles. When the Berlin wall fell and opened up the rest of the world to the former East Germans, popularity started to sag. The park was given a facelift and re-launched as Spreepark, modelled after Western theme parks, but the concept didn’t really take off in Germany.
Norbert Witte, one of the men in charge of Spreepark, ‘borrowed’ six of the park’s attractions and legged it to Lima, Peru, where he attempted to use them to open another amusement park and capitalise on that lucrative Peruvian market. The whole thing was a bit of a disaster, and in 2004, Witte was jailed for seven years for attempting to smuggle €21 million worth of cocaine back to Berlin. He’d hidden it in Spreepark’s Magic Carpet ride. Really.
You can get inside Spreepark either by paying the security company or sneaking in – your choice. It’s also a popular place to hire out for techno parties, and by film crews (the ending of the recent action thriller Hanna was filmed there).