So my friends and I woke up surrounded by books and bottles of beer after a night of study/drinking and decided we needed a well earned break… but also cultural fun… but also the rush of the threat of a potential brush with the German authorities.
We had heard about an abandoned theme park opened in 1969 as Kulturpark Plänterwald in East Berlin, which was now closed off to the public after the owner went bankrupt and was arrested for drug smuggling inside the ride infrastructures… now the place is guarded by a fence and patrolled by guards and dogs who stroll around the perimeter of the park. You could, according to the locals, still hear the creaking of the ferris wheel and many of the remnants of the old rollercoasters and scenery still remained.
then… now *gulp*
We’d asked our East Berliner mate if he could remember it and he told us a bit about the park. It had been the Disneyland of the DDR (Socialist State of East Berlin) but was closed down in 2001. Although it has officially been bought over and is private land, this is often not really respected, and there are a few stories of older former DDR-Bürgers going in and having a look at their old favourites. We naturally had to get a look at this weird and wonderful sounding place. And so it was that one high-tech camera (thanks Ross), two Sternburg’s and three German students set off to see one of Berlin’s worst kept secrets.
Probably the most bizzare thing about the entire experience was the fact that people literally just walk around this creepy place with their kids (the outside of course). There were joggers and old people just milling about as if there wasn’t a giant toppled over plastic dinosaur gazing directly at them from behind rusty gates. EERIE.
One thing that the locals DON’T do however is dig underneath the bars to break in to the private land. Well, I’m on my year abroad in another country and if there’s a time to break the law it’s now…?
We must have looked pretty shifty but believe it or not it’s actually quite a common tourist activity (see this website, honestly, the other kids were doing it) So we got some amused looks from other tourists, scolding looks from some parents and knowing glances from a similarly minded group of students.
Being in the woods of Plänterwald was strangely like how I’d imagined the Hunger Games to be honest, and though I knew this had been done by many others my heart was beating in my chest.
At the end of the day (from the comfort of my flat, drinking hot chocolate with my friends) I’d safely say the experience was worth it. The allure of the park is hefty though, we all want to go back at dusk! Also all those little haunted houses, dodgem cars, bridges and shady tunnels are just waiting for us to actually climb in.
Go check out Ross’s post about Spreepark here. VIEL SPAß FOLKS. Cheers to Ross for the great photography.