In Germany, there is a fully developed nuclear power station built decades ago that was never put into service. One day, an amusement park swing ride was installed inside the station’s cooling tower, and now the facility functions as a local tourist attraction. It looks like fun, in a creepy Orwellian fashion.
Tom Scott’s latest Amazing Places video on YouTube features the amusement park, called Wunderland Kalkar in Kalkar, Germany, near the Dutch border. It was to be a nuclear-powered generating plant, constructed with every intention of being a fully operating electricity station — and then Chernobyl happened.
While the facility was completed in 1985, after 13 years of construction and at an estimated cost of over $5 billion, the nuclear poprocks were never switched on. Initially, some local government officials and residents were concerned about the safety of such a facility. And then a year after the plant, originally called SNR-300, was done, the Chernobyl nuclear reactor meltdown disaster happened.
The protests against nuclear power, particularly in Europe, that followed the Chernobyl disaster ultimately meant SNR-300 would never go online. Instead, years later, the land was bought up and the local community turned the facility into an amusement park, with a giant swing inside the plant’s cooling tower.
The park claims to attract over 600,000 visitors a year, and according to Tom Scott’s video, two-thirds of the facility’s buildings are still empty. There are plans for a wellness park, an indoor winter wonderland and an exhibition center.
According to Business Insider, a Dutch investor bought the 136 acres of land in 1996 and started turning this giant nuclear frown upside down. The park opened in 2001 and now features over 40 attractions, including a tour of the nuclear facility’s infrastructure that wasn’t sold for scrap, the giant vertical swing in the middle of the cooling tower (whose exterior is painted to look like some mountains), a rock-climbing wall up the side of the cooling tower, a log ride and a small coaster. There’s even an on-site hotel.
Do you think you could make better use of an aborted nuclear power facility that doesn’t have any of that pesky radiation to worry about?