Nuclear Family Fun: Power Plant to Amusement Park?!

If an abandoned nuclear power plant doesn’t sound like a fun place to spend an afternoon with the family, you clearly have never visited Wunderland Kalkar. The unusual German amusement park was built in what was once intended to be a nuclear power station, turning a potential environmental hazard into a family-friendly attraction that brings hundreds of thousands of visitors to the town each year.

Despite being referred to as an old nuclear power plant, the site was actually never used for its original purpose. Construction was started in 1972 but protestors, worried about the effects of nuclear power, halted the project for more than a decade. The plant was finally completed at a cost of around $4 billion, but thanks to ongoing political debate and funding problems it would never actually provide power to Kalkar and surrounding areas. In 1991 the project was officially abandoned.

In 1995 the property was purchased by Dutch entrepreneur Hennie van der Most who has a knack for turning old industrial properties into something new and fantastic. He didn’t disappoint with this project. He developed a hotel, conference center and amusement park on the site complete with thrilling rides and family-friendly restaurants.

Wunderland Kalkar is an exceptional example of adaptive reuse at its best. A purpose-built site that would otherwise sit empty and wasted has been used for a purpose completely unlike its original intended one. Since the power plant was never actually put into use, there are no health concerns or environmental issues for visitors to worry about. Instead, they can ride the exciting rides and be happy to know that they are supporting the environmentally-sound concept of adaptive reuse.

(all images via: Wunderland Kalkar)

The amusement park even uses some of the unique power plant features in its new overall design. The gigantic cooling tower is now a climbing wall on the outside and a vertical swing ride on the inside, integrating the past and the present. Reuse like this would not be possible for all nuclear power plants, of course, but Germany will soon have to think about what to do with all of those leftover facilities when they phase out nuclear power entirely by 2022.