After four years of work on two continents in the midst of a global pandemic, over 60,000 working hours and almost 1,500,000 euros in construction costs, the new Rio section in Miniatur Wunderland was opened today at 11:12 am. The 46 square meter section is the first section in the new storage block L, which was ceremoniously inaugurated together with Rio by Hamburg‘s First Mayor Dr. Peter Tschentscher and Brazil‘s Ambassador Roberto Jaguaribe. This moment is special for the Wunderland in many ways: „We spent four years building this fantastic little section under adverse conditions. But for us, it doesn‘t feel like we‘re done now, but rather like things are just getting started. With the additional 3,000 square meters, we now have room to let off steam creatively for at least 10 years and build many more fantastic worlds,“ says Wunderland founder Frederik Braun, describing his emotional state.
With the opening of the new section, the canal bridge and, on the other side, the new exhibition area in Block L of Hamburg‘s Speicherstadt will go into operation at the same time. Planning and construction work on the expansion has taken more than ten years. „It‘s been over a decade since we first talked to HHLA about our expansion dreams. This gave rise to the crazy idea of the bridge that would take small trains and people across the canal into a new world. The fact that this vision has now become reality still feels quite unreal to me and is simply wonderful,“ explains Gerrit Braun.
There was no more room for new worlds in the existing Wunderland premises. Block L adds 3,000 square meters of exhibition space to the world‘s largest model railroad layout and the expansion is secured for at least another ten years. The Rio section is the first of four South America sections that the model builders of Miniatur Wunderland are building simultaneously with the Martinez model building family in Argentina and Hamburg. A feature film about this unusual collaboration will be released in late 2022, produced by the makers of the globally successful Michael Schumacher documentary. „We met the Martinez family four years ago in New York, and moments later the crazy idea of building South America together with South Americans in part in South America was born. Kindred spirits seem to exist, as a similar loving, nerdy, crazy and very dedicated way of thinking and working connected us from the first moment on and never faded over the course of the last four years. It was a great adventure, not the least due to the Covid pandemic. But when you stand in front of Rio now, you immediately realize that this co-production has created something fantastically unique – a truly new world,“ describes Frederik Braun.
Corona was a great challenge for this emotional project. Many Wunderlanders spent the first year of construction together with the Martinez family in Buenos Aires. Due to the pandemic, the Wunderland team had to be flown out head over heels in February 2020. Without further ado, Team Martinez continued to build alone and was accompanied from Hamburg with hundreds of Skype phone calls. Almost a year ago, Rio de Janeiro came to Hamburg by ship and was completed by Team Wunderland in thousands of hours. An intercontinental masterpiece had been created.
With the opening of Rio de Janeiro, the wonderful bridge has now also been opened. At a height of 16 meters above the water, the 25-meter-long Fleet Bridge is the link between the old and the new world. While crossing the glass bridge, guests can simultaneously admire the special exhibition „The World from Above“. Here, trains from the old sections cross the bridge through the most beautiful landscapes in the world. Visitors can view our beautiful planet from above like a bird before then entering the new Wunderland world through a temple gate.
After Rio, the Patagonia and Antarctica sections will follow at the turn of 2022/2023, the rainforest with the Amazon and Andes in 2024, and the Caribbean in 2025. Parts of Asia or Africa are then planned. These will be located on the 4th floor of the new building. Until then, the floor will be used for special exhibitions and will offer a spectacular view of the emerging South American sections with a huge ceiling opening. In addition, other parts of the building will become accessible during 2022. On the 2nd floor, a small cinema, a small restaurant and the passageway to the completely new Wunderland virtual reality world are being built, where you can shrink yourself and move freely through Wunderland as a small figure with the help of high-tech equipment and experience a wonderful adventure. This is currently being created in co-operation with Europa-Park, Europe’s largest theme park, and is expected to open on the first floor under the name „Yullbe“ at the end of February.
Photos and video footage
To download the images, right-click on them and select “Save target as…”. Credit: Miniatur Wunderland Hamburg
Cornelia Klein & Sebastian Drechsler
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How to build South America Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-mnD6Qq_mg&list=PLBXUux9I_ktrpwbI3zi4FfXJTewLXsEKi
Bridge exhibition „The World from above“: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YhGYXXa2vU
New Virtual-Reality-Experience „Yullbe“: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3NrrEBtXeI8
Installation of the bridge: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYsANYtRNm4