12 July, Germany – ‘All Over The Place – Europe, Part 2’
We love a miniature village on ‘All Over The Place’. In fact, as we turned up to ‘Miniature Wonderland’ in Hamburg this morning Naomi pointed out that this was the 3rd one she’d filmed with us! But I think she’d have to say that this one really takes things to another level.
Housed across 3 levels in an old converted warehouse, it’s one of the most fiendishly complex attractions I’ve ever come across. It covers room after room in kilometres of connected railway track and roads, with thousands of vehicles and buildings of every kind and hundreds of thousands of miniature figures going about their daily lives. One room alone houses an entire airport complete with railway station, car parks, terminal buildings and a fully working runway. And when I say fully working, I mean fully working. 40 planes take it in turns to taxi themselves to the take off position and attach themselves to a stick in the floor which then lifts them up into the air and off through a hole in the wall. Every vehicle powers itself through a rechargeable battery and follows a magnetic strip in the floor. When the battery runs low they drive themselves into a recharging dock in a room behind the scenes and power up their batteries sitting inside what looks like a mini car wash made of copper plating.
The rooms are themed around geographical areas like Scandinavia (with fiords and seaports) and America (with Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon) or countries like Germany and Switzerland (there’s an Alpine range with a two storey model of Mont Blanc). And the building continues. Next on the list is the UK and France, with a Channel Tunnel to connect them. With quite a number of staff employed to keep it all ticking over and a million and one things that can go wrong every day I would have considered it a big risk to invest in a project like this, but with several million people visiting a year at 6.50 Euros a pop it’s clearly paid off. If you ever find yourself in Hamburg, go there. But get there early. By 11am it was stuffed full of people.
By midday it was time for me to bid hurried goodbyes to the team and jump in a taxi to the airport for a 5 day holiday in France. There didn’t seem much point going home – filming for block 3 starts after that!