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Reliving My Childhood at Miniature Wonderland

There’s a place in northern Germany where a kid can be a kid. And in this same place, the inner child of every adult screams to be set free. This is one of Europe’s most visited attractions. This is Miniature Wonderland (or Miniatur Wunderland in German). But you’d be mistaken if you assumed that this was only a kid’s thing.

Model railroad train crossing bridge on the largest model train set in the world

Going back to the summer of 1984, I spent dozens of hours holed up in the basement of my parent’s house with my friend Petey. Together, Petey and I were building the world’s biggest and more impressive train set. And it was amazing to our young eyes.

It had two sets of track, two mountains, a gravel airport, a river, a small pond, a stream, a waterfall, tunnels, a town, roads, trees and everything that would turn the make-believe world believable. In retrospect, we were ahead of our time. We were doing on a small scale what Miniature Wonderland would ultimately perfect.

Lance and his friend Peter working on a model train set in 1984
Working on my trainset back in 1984
The famous Neuschwanstein Castle is re-created on a smaller scale
The famous Neuschwanstein Castle

Now, 32 years later, someone else has reached the apex of our childhood ambitions. This is quite simply the most amazing thing you will ever see. This is the world’s largest model train set. And it’s still years away from final completion.

Miniature model of Hamburg's Speicherstadt
The Speicherstadt model

The current model railway is massive and occupies several floors of a warehouse in the historic Speicherstadt district. There are over 65,000 feet of track, which is divided up into sections. These include several Germany sections (central Germany, Hamburg city, the fictitious city of Knuffingen and its airport), Austria, the United States, Scandinavia, Switzerland, and Italy.

There are still several sections left in development before the project is completely finished around 2025: Monaco, England/Scotland, France, Ireland, and Benelux.

Train set model of an Italian village
The Italy model looks an awful lot like San Gimignano
Tiny figures on parade

While the scale of the railway is massive. The most impressive elements can be found in the miniature: a group of sunbathers at a lake splashing each other in the water, a parade in a German village with everyone in lederhosen, or Superman responding to an accident where a car went through a guardrail and nearly toppled over a cliff.

Fanciful recreations of Superman saving a car going off a cliff
The attention to detail is incredible!

There is something to see everywhere. And everything moves. Sure, you’d expect the trains to run on a model railway, and they do. But the cars drive down the street. Cable cars whisk skiers to the tops of mountains to ski. And the skiers can go down the hill. And some people move. And the rollercoaster goes on thrilling rides. And ships sail across water. And the airplanes at the airport take off…and land.

Re-creation of airport on a small scale

Every 15 minutes, the day becomes night and the whole exhibition can be experienced in a whole new way. All of the trains, cars and buildings have lights, which come on. And the streetlights actually light up. And the car headlights turn on.

Lance working on train set with his dad and friend in 1984

The attention to detail is something I never would have dreamed possible. When I spent the summer of 1984 working away in the basement on my model railway, this is exactly what I thought I was creating. Somewhere along the way, I gave up on model trains.

But I’m thrilled somebody didn’t give up on train sets. This place is what happens when you follow your dreams. And it’s absolutely awesome to visit!

A small-scale parking garage

Miniature Wonderland Details

To understand the scale of Miniature Wonderland, you just need to take in the scale of the operation:

  • Size: 24,000+ square feet of space
  • Figurines: 400,000 different people
  • Trains: Over 1,300 different trains
  • Track: 65,000+ feet of track
  • Lights: 500,000 lights
  • Cars: 10,000 moving vehicles
  • Computers: 64 different computers control all the action

Visiting Information for Miniature Wonderland

Hours of Operation

The facility is open 365 days a year. General hours of operation are from 9:30-18:00. Hours are slightly longer on Tuesdays, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. Lines can be quite long on weekends and school holidays, so pre-booking your timeslot online can be quite smart.

Miniature Wonderland Ticket Prices

Tickets are Adult €13.00 for adults and €6.50 for children. Other ticket options and packages are available.

Location and Address

It is conveniently located within the Speicherstadt district.

Miniatur Wunderland Hamburg
Kehrwieder 2-4,
Block D 20457 Hamburg – Speicherstadt

Getting There

There are several parking garages nearby if arriving by private car. However, public transit is also convenient. The nearest metro station (called the U-Bahn in Hamburg) is Baumwall, located on the U3 (yellow line).

For More Information

Nearby Accommodations

There are number of accommodation options nearby. Check out prices at nearby hotels. We stayed at the nearby AMERON Hotel Speicherstadt.

We visited explored Hamburg as the guests of German National Tourist Board. All opinions of the small and fantastic are our own.

And because you can never have too many pictures:

A circus carnival
A model train in the mimicking the Swiss Alps
The computer control room

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Wednesday 29th of March 2017

What a cute place to visit ... might have to drop by when I get to Germany!

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