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Tiger Tunnel at Abandoned SpreePark

While searching for unique abandoned amusement parks, one of the most prevalent images comes from the long-abandoned Spreepark in Germany — a dulled, but no less striking facade of what seems to be a multicolored tiger tunnel straddling a coaster track. 

For decades now, the rumbling of the coaster and cheers of visitors have fallen silent, shrouding this empty park in mystery and memory.

Rainbow tiger tunnel at SpreePark
TonkBerlin, via Wikimedia Commons

 

This location was once the most popular amusement park in Germany, drawing crowds of over a million each year, but within a handful of years the park had fallen to a state of disrepair… what went wrong?

Spreepark was a popular amusement park located in what was, at the time, a part of East Berlin beside the river Spree. It was also known by its earlier name Kulturpark Plänterwald Berlin. The park opened to the public in 1969 as East Germany’s only consistently-operating amusement park. Visitors to the park paid per ride to enjoy the park’s offerings as they pleased. This endured until 1991, when East and West Germany were unified once more.

Now catering to guests from both halves of the Berlin Wall, Spreepark saw its popularity skyrocket during this time, welcoming roughly 1.5 million visitors per year. With a change in management, the name was promptly changed to Spreepark. Instead of paying per ride, an admission fee was applied. Guests paid 29 DM (around $16 USD) per adult and 27 DM (around $15 USD) per child for a full day at the park.

Around this time, the overall park began to change to a more western-theme. New attractions were added including roller coasters, an English village and western town, and a collection of other games and activities.

However, the park’s good fortune could not last forever. By 1999, the park was struggling with debt well over €11,000,000. To combat this issue, the price of admission was raised to 30 DM per visitor. Between that and scarce parking options, Spreepark saw only 400,000 guests in 2001 and was unable to meet their climbing debt. Sadly, the bankrupt park had no other option but to close their doors permanently in August of 2002.

The park was abandoned soon after and left to slowly decay and be reclaimed by nature.

Abandoned SpreePark aerial view
A.Savin, via Wikimedia Commons

 

Between 2011 and 2014, guided tours walked the premise, offering tourists a look into this piece of German history. In March of 2014, tours stopped following the city of Berlin’s purchase of the grounds and the park was abandoned once more.

Later that year, a suspicious fire destroyed large portions of the park, particularly in the English village and western town areas. Due to the location of two separate ignition points, the fire was likely lit intentionally. One arrest was made in connection to the arson at the abandoned Spreepark, but the damage was extensive. The flames took around one hundred firefighters to extinguish.

With a good portion of the grounds leveled by the fire, it was all but assured that Spreepark would never reopen to greet guests the way it once had.

However, it’s not the end of the road for this nostalgic location. In 2018, plans were unveiled to transform the area that was once Spreepark into a new green and open arts and cultural center.

In 2021, the iconic ferris wheel was removed with plans to refurbish and return it to its rightful spot overlooking the park. Today, you can keep up with the redevelopment of Spreepark by visiting spreepark.berlin/en online to view the latest updates.

 
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