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Kernie's Family Park sits along the Rhine River in western Germany and makes use of an abandoned nuclear power plant that was never operational.

Kernie's Family Park sits along the Rhine River in western Germany and makes use of an abandoned nuclear power plant that was never operational. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)

Kernie's Family Park sits along the Rhine River in western Germany and makes use of an abandoned nuclear power plant that was never operational.

Kernie's Family Park sits along the Rhine River in western Germany and makes use of an abandoned nuclear power plant that was never operational. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)

Visitors to Kernie's Family Park, or Wunderland Kalkar, enjoy the Regatta ride.

Visitors to Kernie's Family Park, or Wunderland Kalkar, enjoy the Regatta ride. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)

Kernie's Family Park visitors ride a Ferris wheel.

Kernie's Family Park visitors ride a Ferris wheel. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)

Kernie's Family Park's highlight is the 190-foot-high vertical swing that's housed in the cooling tower.

Kernie's Family Park's highlight is the 190-foot-high vertical swing that's housed in the cooling tower. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)

Visitors to Kernie's Family Park at Kalkar, Germany, look up to the 190-foot-high vertical swing inside the cooling tower.

Visitors to Kernie's Family Park at Kalkar, Germany, look up to the 190-foot-high vertical swing inside the cooling tower. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)

Riders of Kernie's Family Park's main attraction, the 190-foot-high vertical swing, get a view of the Rhine River and the park's surrounding area once the swing lifts over the top of the cooling tower.

Riders of Kernie's Family Park's main attraction, the 190-foot-high vertical swing, get a view of the Rhine River and the park's surrounding area once the swing lifts over the top of the cooling tower. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)

Visitors at Kernie's Family Park watch riders of the Wild Water Train, or Wildwasserbahn in German, get wet as the train car splashes into a pool of water after a giant drop.

Visitors at Kernie's Family Park watch riders of the Wild Water Train, or Wildwasserbahn in German, get wet as the train car splashes into a pool of water after a giant drop. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)

A brave rider of the Wild Water Train at Kernie's Family Park reacts after splashing into a pool of water  at Kalkar, Germany.

A brave rider of the Wild Water Train at Kernie's Family Park reacts after splashing into a pool of water at Kalkar, Germany. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)

Visitors to Kernie's Family Park take advantage of the all-you-can eat french fries.

Visitors to Kernie's Family Park take advantage of the all-you-can eat french fries. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)

As Germany continues to wean itself from nuclear energy, the unlikely yet creative use of a deserted nuclear power plant nestled on the western banks of the Rhine River may provide a solution for the future use of such facilities.

Wunderland Kalkar is a former nuclear power plant repurposed as a hotel and amusement park, complete with an orange mascot named “Kernie,” after the German word for nucleus. The amusement park, known as Kernie’s Family Park, has more than 40 attractions, the highlight of which is a 190-foot vertical swing housed in the cooling tower.

But not to worry if heights aren’t your thing. There is a variety of attractions for the whole family, from carousels to roller coasters, a museum and a theater.

And if the attractions are not enough to persuade you to visit the park, this might: The entrance fee includes parking and unlimited amounts of french fries, ice cream, soft drinks, tea, coffee and hot chocolate.

The first view of the surreal amusement park, pinned against the Rhine and surrounded by farmland, is of the cooling tower, painted with snowcapped mountains protruding from an otherwise flat landscape.

The day I visited in late May, the skies were overcast with a strong chance of rain, but that did little to deter me or the hundreds of other visitors from enjoying the rides. I was certainly glad for the unlimited coffee and french fries to help warm against the chilly weather. Yet more than a few ice cream lovers, including myself, sampled the soft serve.

So if you’re looking for a thrill in an unusual but family-friendly setting, Wunderland Kalkar is the place for you.

demotts.josh@stripes.com

Wunderland Kalkar (Kernie's Family Fun Park) Location The park is built on the site of a nuclear power plant that never went into operation. Address: Griether Strasse 110, 47546 Kalkar, Germany

Times Open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from March 29 to Nov. 3 with the exception of April, September and October, when it’s open only on weekends.

Costs Prices are listed as 24.50 euros for anyone taller than 4 feet, 2 inches, 20.50 euros for anyone shorter and 9 euros per person after 4 p.m.

Food Beyond the unlimited french fries, ice cream and drinks, there are several other places to eat within the complex.

Information Phone: (+49) (0) 2824-9100; email: info@wunderlandkalkar.eu; website: www.wunderlandkalkar.eu, with an English option.


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