WUNDERLAND KALKAR: HAVING FUN IN A FORMER NUCLEAR POWER PLANT
“Wunderland Kalkar” was conceived after Germany decided to shut down its nuclear plants following the Chernobyl disaster. Today, it attracts over 600,000 tourists annually.
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What is Wunderland Kalkar
Wunderland Kalkar is an amusement park built on a never-officially-opened German nuclear plant due to safety concerns. The SNR-300, which was never utilized, has transformed into an entertainment center that attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists each year, seeking a unique experience that blends fun with education.
Kalkar is a city in the Cleves district of Germany, situated near the banks of the Rhine River. The Kalkar nuclear plant, known as SNR-300, began construction in 1972 with the intention of being Germany’s first nuclear breeder reactor, capable of producing more fuel than it consumed.
It was designed to use plutonium as fuel and generate 327 megawatts of power. However, due to safety concerns, the government at the time faced delays in its construction. The project was completed in 1985, costing 5.3 billion dollars. Nevertheless, following the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, the SNR-300 never became operational, and the entire project was officially canceled in 1991.
This led the plant to become completely useless and unusable, and it was later sold to a Dutch investor – entrepreneur Hennie van der Most – who had an original and incredible plan: to transform this completely abandoned place into an amusement park. Thus, Wunderland Kalkar was born, a magical and innovative place created from the ashes of unrealized nuclear plans, attracting hundreds of thousands of people annually.
Wunderland Kalkar spans a total area of 55 hectares, hosting 40 diverse attractions of all types and colors. These include a water roller coaster resembling Disneyland’s Splash Mountain, a flying carousel, tea cups, a 40-meter climbing wall in place of the cooling tower of the plant, a samba ride, a pirate ship, and many more games commonly found in amusement parks worldwide. However, what sets it apart is the intriguing addition of the site’s history where it is located.
It’s worth noting that visitors to Wunderland Kalkar don’t face any risk of radiation contamination, as is the case with any nuclear plant, as it was never used, and production never took place. Tourists can enjoy a historical and educational experience by participating in a tour that takes them through the site and explains everything one can learn about the nuclear plant that was never opened.
Since its opening season in April, the amusement park receives over 600,000 visitors annually. It also features a 450-room hotel of the same name where tourists can stay during their visit. The park offers a variety of restaurants and bars to cater to different tastes. Additionally, it has a convention center with 20 meeting rooms and a family-friendly theme park suitable for children.
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In this way, Wunderland Kalkar serves as an excellent example of how existing spaces can be repurposed or revitalized for new uses. In this case, it took an unused nuclear reactor and transformed it into an amusement park. This concept of repurposing extends to sustainable ideas such as elevated parks like New York’s High Line, as well as amusement parks where thrill-seeking experiences intertwine with environmental awareness.