Spreepark opened on the banks of the Spree River in 1969, in what was then East Germany. The amusement park featured rollercoasters, a Ferris wheel, water rides, and multiple dinosaurs. It stayed open, in different incarnations, through reunification, until 2001, when it shut its gates for good.
Today, the park lays in ruins, its dinosaurs toppled and its Ferris wheel tilting slightly to one side, creaking in the breeze. This August, a set of fires, widely considered to have been arson, further destroyed the park.
But what is one person’s wasteland is another’s adventure. When urban explorer and photographer, Beto Ruiz Alonso, moved to Berlin two years ago, and heard rumours of an abandoned, GDR-era theme park right near they city, he knew he had to go. He shared these pictures with us from his explorations.
Alonso says it wasn’t very hard to get into the park, as there is plenty of information online about how to enter. “I’m pretty sure that’s about to change as the park gets more attention … people are discovering it,” he tells Business Insider.
The park certainly has a lurid history. After closing the park in 2001, the owner attempted to open a new park in Lima, Peru, which failed as well. Later, he was arrested for attempting to smuggle 400 pounds of cocaine back into Germany, tucked into an amusement park ride.
Rumour has it that after spending time in jail for the offence, the owner now lives in a trailer on the Spreepark property.
For a while, the owner’s wife gave guided tours of the park, explaining its history and allowing visitors to enter the park without trespassing.
But where’s the fun in that? Alonso tells us that when he snuck into the park, “I was lucky and didn’t run into security but I’ve heard other stories involving angry guards and violent dogs.”
Alonso photographed inside the park in 2013 and early 2014, prior to the fires, which destroyed this faux-English town, among many other structures.
Alonso says his favourite part of the park is the giant Ferris Wheel, which moves slowly in the wind, making a creaking sound. “It’s the creepiest sound, like distant screams,” he says.
Alonso fears that what remains of Spreepark may not be there for long. The city of Berlin bought the land in March (prior to which, it was for sale on E-Bay). No solid plans for the space have been announced, but Alonso says that “it’s only a matter of time before the whole thing disappears for good.”
“It’s an amazing piece of history and it’s such a delight to be in there with the mutilated dinosaurs and the abandoned rides,” he says.
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