How was the decision reached?
Before this dream became reality, one thing had to be ensured: this venture shall not ruin their existence as night club and music label owners, which the Braun brothers had built up over many years.
It had to be clarified, whether this dream was financially feasable, whether enough visitors would come, whether the technical realisation was possible, and whether there was an appropriate location available in Hamburg where the world’s largest model railroad could be built.
In order to estimate whether they might have enough visitors to cover expenses, the brothers decided to carry out a survey. More than 3,000 persons with different social demographic attributes were questioned via Internet, rating 45 attractions listed, some of which were fictitious, and which ones they would visit in Hamburg.
The ficticious Miniatur Wunderland came in third in men’s voting, but it was at the bottom of the list with women. Despite this ambiguous result the twin brothers had made up their mind: “WE ARE GOING TO BUILD THE LARGEST MODEL RAILROAD IN THE WORLD.“
Why Hamburg, why the Historic Warehouse District?
“Hamburg is the most beautiful and most perfect city in the world“, Frederik and Gerrit will answer, when being asked about their home town. Both are citizens of Hamburg with all their hearts, and are deeply connected and commited to the city.
They agreed that the world’s largest model railroad has to be in Hamburg. The search for an appropriate location within the city proved to be difficult. They wanted to find a spot which is attractive and easy to reach for tourists and Hamburg citizens, and which offers floor space of about 2,000 sqm per floor with allowance for future expansion.
Moreover, the architectural style has to be suitable for a model railroad, and the lease has to be affordable. With the help of the Chamber of Commerce a contact was made to Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA). The HHLA was instantly enthusiastic about the idea, and offered the spaces at Kehrwieder at fair conditions. And that is how the location was found.
How was Wunderland financed?
It didn’t take long to realize that a model railroad of this size and love for detail will be very expensive, and can only be financed by loans. The Braun brothers took an A4 sized paper with a draft of their idea and went to their bank asking for a credit of 2 million D-Mark.
Both of them were sure that bankers would be laughing at them – 2 million D-Mark, an A4 sized paper and a dream of a model railraod… That doesn’t necessarily sound plausible to a banker – they thought. They were all the more csurprised when the bank granted the loan soon after.
In hindsight, the calculation turned out to be completely wrong; 2 Mio. D-Mark investment turned into almost 10 Mio. Euros to this day. Fortunately, they misjudged the number of visitors as well – in June 2009 the 6 millionth visitor walked into the exhibit.
Miniatur Wunderland, unlike most other exhibitions of this size, is run without any kind of government aid. In the construction phase, the two brothers travelled around Germany and looked at different model layouts.
Hundreds of ideas were explored in order to create a model train experience that would be entertaining for the whole family. Enclosing the layout behind a window pane wouldn’t be part of the plan. Instead, the vision was to create a giant, immersive experience.
“Our idea was to build a world that men, women, and children would be equally astonished and amazed at”, says co-creator Gerrit Braun about their philosophy.
With this philosophy and thousands of ideas in mind, the twin brothers visited Gerhad Dauscher in the city of Mühlhausen (near Neumarkt). Gerhard was infected with the concept instantly, and cancelled all his contracts and appointments. This day was essential for Miniatur Wunderland turning out to be the place it is today.
Prior to construction, a team had to be compiled. The three held a model maker casting, which more than 150 persons applied for, 40 of which were invited to attend. Based on the casting, Gerhard compiled a team of model creators, 95% of which were not classical model-makers, but excellent craftsmen instead.
Thus, the construction of Miniatur Wunderland began. The original layout was 300 sqm large. It grew to be 1300 sqm as of today, but even many more layouts are planned until 2020. In our Weekly Reports you will find documentation about the construction progress from the very beginning.
Welcome to the website of Miniatur Wunderland - thank you very much for your interest in our little wonder-world!
In addition to important information, such as opening hours, admission, and directions, you'll have the opportunity to exchange views with other like-minded fans, to take a look at photos, or go shopping in our online-shop.