This Family Fun Park Used to Be a Nuclear Plant

Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
Oct. 18 2013 8:41 AM

Wunderland Kalkar: The Nuclear Reactor Turned Family Fun Park


Atlas Obscura on Slate is a new travel blog. Like us on Facebook, Tumblr, or follow us on Twitter @atlasobscura.

The swing ride at the Wunderland Kalkar amusement park just north of Düsseldorf is located in the cooling tower of an abandoned nuclear power plant.

Construction on the SNR-300 plant began in 1973. The facility was to be a "fast breeder" nuclear reactor, an type that creates more fuel (in the form of plutonium 239) than it uses. 


SNR-300 took 12 years to complete. During its construction, the community was vocal about its unease over nuclear power—a 1977 anti-plant demonstration drew 40,000 onto the streets of Kalkar.

In 1985, the reactor began partial operation, but did not receive any nuclear materials. Then came the Chernobyl disaster of April 16, 1986. Responding to public safety concerns and wanting to avoid the unprecedentedly high operating costs, the state government halted the opening of the plant.

Five years later, with SNR-300 officially cancelled and its valuable parts sold and shipped away, Dutchman Hennie van der Most purchased the land. He then took the obvious next step: turning the nuclear power plant into a family amusement park. 

Kernwasser Wunderland, or "Corewater Wonderland," opened in 2001 with more than 40 rides, a 437-room hotel, bars, restaurants, and a bowling alley. (The park has since been renamed Wunderland Kalkar.) The star attraction is the cooling tower, now painted to resemble a snowy mountain landscape. Rock climbing trails snake up its outer wall, while the inside is home to a swing ride and an area called "Echoland"—just shout when you're in there and you'll understand why.

Bemusement parks:

View Wunderland Kalkar in a larger map



More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.


Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

My Father Was James Brown. I Watched Him Beat My Mother. Then I Married Someone Like Him.

  News & Politics
Sept. 17 2014 12:02 PM Here It Is: The Flimsiest Campaign Attack Ad of 2014, Which Won't Stop Running
Sept. 17 2014 12:13 PM “For a While Liquidity Led to Stupidity”
The Eye
Sept. 17 2014 12:19 PM Early Cancer Hospitals Were Modeled on French Castles, Served Champagne
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
Sept. 17 2014 11:06 AM Inside the Exclusive World of Members-Only Clubs
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 11:14 AM How Does That Geometry Problem Make You Feel? Computer tutors that can read students’ emotions.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 11:18 AM A Bridge Across the Sky
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.