Of all the plan Bs for a disused power station, turning it into a children’s theme park may not seem like the most likely choice. However, that is exactly what Dutch businessman Hennie van der Most decided to do in the early nineties when he purchased a nuclear power plant in the German town of Kalkar and set about replacing the sombre atmosphere and grey walls with laughter and bright colours.
During construction, the station was known as SNR-300 but has now been transformed into Wunderland Kalkar, complete with amusement park, six hotels, multiple restaurants and bars, sports activities and conference facilities equipped to host almost any event you can imagine. In fact, during the time we were there, they were simultaneously preparing for a dirt bike championship, setting up for a pet fair and dismantling a tent previously used for an electronic dance music festival.
If you are beginning to worry about the safety of such a place, there is no need to be concerned. In the aftermath of the terrible Chernobyl disaster, plans were halted due to major public protests. The local residents were already against the idea of a power station in their back garden and this was a further stark reminder of what happens when things go wrong. As a result, the project was cancelled in 1991 and so no fuel actually ever made its way to the site.
Upon arrival, it is clear to see what the original idea was, as many of the original structures have been incorporated into the theme park. The main building is now home to restaurants, bars and some conference rooms; the turbine hall has been turned into a museum that teaches children how nuclear power works; and the enormous cooling tower is now home to a climbing wall on its exterior and a dizzying swing ride on the inside. Incidentally, it’s worth queuing for this attraction even if you don’t want to go on it, as you get to hear the fantastic echo from inside the tower.
Away from the rides aimed at the younger children, there are some areas for adults and older kids to enjoy too. Tennis courts and ping pong tables are available and there is a go kart track for anyone wanting to live life in the fast lane. And there’s no need to worry about spending too much on refreshments inside the park because soft drinks, ice cream and fries are all included in the price.
This quirky but wonderful place is not really on the radar of the UK market due to its location in rural North-Rhine Westphalia. However, by combining your stay with a trip to Dortmund, Dusseldorf or Cologne, you can make the most of your time in this part of Germany. There are also plans in place to allow ships cruising the river Rhine to be able to stop directly at the park, making Wunderland Kalkar easily accessible to people on a wide range of European holidays.
If you would like to know more or book a stay here, contact us today and we will tailor-make your ideal itinerary.