Near the river Spree is East Germany’s biggest amusement park. In ruins. Back in the seventies and eighties children screamed and had a lot of fun in the theme park. But now, it is awfully quiet in Kulturpark Planterwald. The turnstiles are boarded up and the whitewater course is covered in a thick layer of crumbled autumn leaves. The life-size dinosaurs are daubed with graffiti and some missing a head or leg. The ferris wheel of Kulturpark Planterwald moves slowly in the wind. It hasn’t had any visitors in years.
It is a poor contrast to the sixties, seventies and eighties when the largest amusement park in the GDR was a great success. Kulturpark Planterwald was an amusement park for everyone. Access was free and you only had to pay for the things you had fun in. For families with children it was a perfect day out, but also punks loved hanging out in “Kulti”.
Punk hotspot in Kulturpark Planterwald
Kulturpark Planterwald was the perfect meeting place. At Alexanderplatz, another punk hotspot, a lot of cameras made Alex less popular. In Kulturpark Planterwald they could shout in the ferris wheel without being scared to be followed by cameras all the time.
After the Wende it went wrong with Kulti. The amusement park was bought by the West German investor Norbert Witte. He raised a fixed entrance fee and paid for a lot of new attractions. But he didn’t get more parking spots.
And therefore: less visitors than expected. Witte decided to ship a number of attractions to Peru.
Cocaine in the flying carpet of Kulturpark Planterwald
Than the shit hit the fan. Witte got involved with the Peruvian mafia. He owed them quite a lot of money and to get rid of this debt he used one of the attractions, the flying carpet, to smuggle cocaine back to Germany. But than Norbert Witte got a heart attack and traveled to Germany for an operation.
His son, Marcel Witte, took his place in the smuggling process. And got caught. Marcel Witte was sentenced to twenty years in prison, in Peru. Norbert Witte had to go to jail in Berlin, for a couple of years.
In the mean time, Berlin had no idea what to do with Kulturpark Planterwald. They would like to develop the area, but that is not possible because it is still owned by the Witte family, who have gone bankrupt. What should be done with the abandoned amusement park is unclear.
Graffiti on the dinosaurs of bankrupt Kulturpark Planterwald
Copper thieves took away the copper pieces from the rails of the roller coaster, and stole the big swans of an attraction. Vandals sprayed the life-size dinosaurs and all other remaining attractions such as the whitewater course and mini-cars with mustache disappeared under a large layer of dust and leaves.
Some investors would like to make a ‘lost world freizeitpark’ with large dinosaurs of Kulturpark Planterwald. Others and Inca-city or an eco-friendly park. But nothing happens, so far.
Still, Kulti is not forgotten. Berliners who went here as kids and had a lot of fun, visit the Saturday and Sundaytours to show their kids where they used to play in Kulturpark Planterwald.
But even if you never played at Kulturpark Planterwald as a kid it is great to visit Kulturpark Planterwald. It is weird to walk around in a big amusement park near Berlin’s city centre where nothing is happening. The small mini cars called ‘chapeau claque’ have dirty noses and the pink roof they are hiding under is moving in the wind. You can smell the rust when the rain trickles down from the roller coaster. It doesn’t matter if it is summer, spring or winter, at the white water coarse it always smells like it is autumn. The brown leaves in the yellow cars trick your nose every day of the year. The train that drives the few visitors through the mouth of a dragon crackles like an old witch because it hardly rides anymore. Small kids climb in the headless dinosaurs and have the time of their life. They don’t care that Kulturpark Planterwald is no longer a fancy amusement park. For them, it is turned into a large, rough playground where only some of the grown ups feel sorry about what is gone.
If you played in Kulturpark Planterwald as a kid and see it’s ruins now, you can perfectly understand why people feel sorry about how it looks now. But the tragedy, strange history and the way it looks now make it a cool place to be as well. Even if you are not ten years old.
Special events at Kulturpark Planterwald
Sometimes Kulti is used for special events. Theater Hebbel am Ufer attracted 20.000 visitors when they played a part in the amusement park in 2010. Techno parties were a great success too. Artists took over the amusement park for a short month in June 2012, because they want the public to use Kulturpark Planterwald again. They put a lot of glittering cd’s in the large ferris wheel to make it look like a large shining disco ball.
But fear of thieves remain. Large dogs guard the tours through Kulturpark Planterwald, but they and the guards could not prevent the wheel being seriously damaged. For the time being, the fun is put on hold. But we can’t wait to see the large fence go, so everybody in Berlin can enjoy Berlin’s oldest, ruined amusement park.
The main attractions of Kulturpark Planterwald
White Water Course Grand Canyon
Riesenrad (Ferris Wheel)
Chapeau Claque (mini cars with hats)
Schwanenfahrt (huge swans)
Bummi (child carrousel)
Fliegender Teppich (flying carpet)
Wellental (huge slide)
Santa Fe express (train ride)
Las Vegas Country
Roll over Jill
Monte Carlo Drive
Mini Truck Fahrt
We show the hidden gems of Berlin, like an abandoned amusement park near the city centre of Berlin with headless dino’s and a ferris wheel that still spins in the wind. At RAW in Friedrichshain you will find great graffiti with pink fish and mad captains with large moustaches. And what about Berlin’s bathing culture! At the Badeschiff in Treptow you can swim in a swimming pool that floats in the river Spree. Imagine the view! At Stadtbad Prenzlauer Berg in the Oderberger Strasse you can see the fallen angels and fat bellied watergods of the ruined swimming pool that is being renovated right now.
We also take you deeper into the history of Berlin by showing you where the GDR leaders used to live. Walk with us to the Majakowskiring where the GDR elite stayed in big houses. You can still see in which villa’s the GDR leaders used to stay. We will take you there and tell you all about the history of these strange villa’s, a long walk away from Berlin’s city centre.
After the 1953 uprising the GDR leaders felt very uncomfortable living to close to the centre of Berlin. They took off to Wandlitz, just outside Berlin, where they lived with a large wall around the premises. The people of the GDR all thought the GDR leaders lived in Wandlitz, surrounded by gold and luxury. We will show you what life really was like for the leaders of the GDR at this weird, walled sector just outside Berlin.
Watergods with big bellies, turtles, octopusses and big fish all swim over the facade of Stadtbad Prenzlauer Berg. But the stone angels are turning green because they have been lying on the wet ground for so long. The swimmingpool Stadtbad Prenzlauer Berg at Oderbergerstrasse used to be loved, but now it is in ruins.
Friedrichshain is RAW. Raw because the district is rough and full of ragged buildings and alternative people. But also Raw because of the R.A.W. gelande, an area near the river Spree. The former factory is in ruins. But that doesn’t mean nothing is happening anymore. You will find great graffiti here and Berlin’s creative people.
The river Spree doesn’t look very attractive to go swimming. But in Treptow you will see people near the Spree shore. Not to dive in the brown river water. But to visit the Badeschiff in Treptow. A large swimming pool that is situated in the river Spree. Imagine the views you have on the river. Even in the wintertime it is great to go here to poodle or go as fast as you can in this pool.