This Family Fun Park Used to Be a Nuclear Plant

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

Wunderland Kalkar: The Nuclear Reactor Turned Family Fun Park

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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. 

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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

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