A German nuclear plant converted into a rollercoaster "Wonderland"
In the mid ’70s, Germany was hell bent on limiting its energy import and began constructing giant, expensive reactors to maximize its limited resources. It was during this time that the “SNR-300,” Germany’s first fast-breeder nuclear reactor, came into being: a tremendous facility in Kalkar over 80 football fields in length designed to convert plutonium into usable energy. Alas, after the disaster at Chernobyl in ’86, Germans became (understandably) freaked about opening new power plants, and the project was officially canceled.
Sitting empty, the building became one of the most famously expensive pieces of garbage in the world, having had over 7 billion Deutsche Marks – equivalent to 4 billion US dollars – already invested in it. But in a peculiar turn of events, amusement park developer Hennie van der Most scooped up the abandoned plant in the 90s for a measly $2.5 million, slapped a few carousels and ferris wheels on the property, and opened doors as “Kernies Wunderland.”
It’s maybe the most awesome example of industrial up cycling ever. The park – since renamed “Wunderland Kalkar” – has become one of the most popular (if totally bizarre) attractions in Germany, bringing in hundreds of thousands of visitors a year. With an enormous swing outfitted inside its cooling tower, a roller coaster, a flying carousel, and 400-bed hotel, I may have to book a trip to Kalkar just to see this thing in person. Plus, with Germany’s recent decision to shut down all of its nuclear power plants by 2022, I have to wonder if there aren’t more “wonderlands” in store for us thrill-seeking tourists.