It's a WARNING: Don’t Enter The Spreepark

Spreepark, the abandoned park in Plänterwald, was once an exciting and spooky place to explore for those who take the idea of trespassing lightly. However, the increased popularity of the location has led to tougher security and anyone brave enough to venture inside is risking life and limb, as I found out to my cost.

I first caught glimpses of the park, which has been abandoned for 13 years now, in the excellent 2011 action film Hanna. The climax of the movie plays out in Spreepark, and the action set against the crumbling roller coasters and other relics make for an amazing scene. When I learned from a friend who frequented the park in her youth that the place actually existed and was not just some set, I had to go and explore it for myself.

We took the train to Plänterwald and walked through the protected forest until we got to the perimeter of the old park. A cheap wire fence enclosed the border, and walking the circumference, it was easy to find a damaged section to climb over. Inside, among the overgrowth, it was eerily still. We followed an old railroad track that was in the process of being taken over by nature, and the denseness of the woods provided us with ample cover. The attractions stood like ghosts of their former selves and as we approached the main clearing we saw the giant, rusted Ferris wheel, turning with the breeze and emitting a mournful screech. Strewn across the grass were broken up dinosaur carcasses, slowly on their way to becoming fossils.

Spreepark in 1985

Others appeared, and with some hesitation, we approached them. They told us to be cautious: One guard was patrolling on foot, another by car, and that we should avoid the main roads. We continued on with this information in mind but it was no use, the man walking the area soon discovered us. He was stern, but not to be feared, and he firmly told us to leave out the main entrance. A little embarrassed, we made out way out and got to view more of the park as we walked towards the main gate. Stacked beside the gate was a pair of logs, which we climbed up and used to back over the fence into civilization.

It’s been three years since that enjoyable afternoon exploring the area, and in that time a lot has changed. My most recent excursion to the park went rather differently. The fence is no longer dilapidated cheap wire; it’s been upgraded to a stronger metal frame with small prongs along the top. Climbing it took a lot more effort and the sharp points threatened to puncture the palms of my hands, but I made it over in one piece. As my crew and I stealthily made our way through the jungle-like vegetation, two guys passing by on the other side of the fence called out to get our attention so they could tell us that there were four guards patrolling on foot, three in cars, three guard dogs on the loose, and that it would be best to avoid the main roads. I had not anticipated that security would have stepped up as much as it had and I started questioning my decision.  We stayed in the thicket, keeping cover as we remained near the road. My exposed arms and legs were getting scratched in the wild grasses. I tapped into my animal instincts and kept all senses alert, waiting for the sign of another creature’s presence.

We crossed the road and passed into some trees bordering the other side when I heard the sound of a car approaching. We lay down low in the tall grass next to the body of a dead mole, but it was no use. We had been spotted. The car pulled up to the side of the road and two security personnel stepped out, ordering us to our feet. We reluctantly got up, leaving the deceased mole to decompose alone, and I felt like a failure as we approached the car. One of the guards, a rough looking, tobacco-stained man, did all the talking. He asked if we knew we had been trespassing. How could we not have known? It was obvious – there are signs posted all around the outside of the fence, a fact that he brought to our attention. He asked for our identification so that his silent colleague could document us, or he’d have to call the police. Not wanting to get the authorities involved, we forked them over to her. He said that since I gave them a foreign ID that they wouldn’t do anything, but normally people are sent a bill for 15€. He seemed sympathetic, and he told us that it’s really a dangerous place to be exploring. He mentioned that there are some open manholes in which one could fall 30m and at night all the guards go home and leave the dogs to roam the area.

Anyone sneaking in at this time would likely be a chew toy for the dogs. At one point my roommate, stepping closer to the car to get his ID back, got the attention of a Rottweiler, who, unknowingly to us had been in the back of the car the whole time. The aggressive dog growled and barked at us until the man yelled at him to stand down. After we were all recorded, we were told not to enter again or charges would be pressed. The man got in his car with the terrifying hound, and his co-worker, still silent and composed, escorted us out the front gate then spoke saying only, “Tschüss.”

I have trouble seeing the need to guard the place so heavily, there is hardly anything left in the park, and much of the equipment has been scrapped or sold. The biggest danger comes not from the park and the unmaintained rides left there to rot, but from the things put in place to keep people out. Perhaps the reason behind it is that there are future plans in store for Spreepark. A new amusement park, however, is out of the question. The security man made that clear to us while we made small talk with him. It’s still possible that they will start opening the park for tours or other small events, and they may get the Ferris wheel up and running again, but as for now nothing else seems on the horizon. I’m sad to say it, but the glory days of exploring Spreepark are over, and I strongly advise against anybody entering.

By Jacob Houvener

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