How a Colossal Airship Hangar Became a Colossal Water Park

On the left: a $110 million airship hangar, the world's largest freestanding building, located 40 miles south of Berlin. On the right: that same building seen today: home to Tropical Islands Resort, a massive water park and indoor rainforest. Huh?

The massive hangar, measuring 1,181 feet long by 688 feet wide by 351 high, was built by Carl von Gablenz, a German entrepreneur who thought that helium airships were the future of heavy machine transport. His company, CargoLifter AG, used the hangar to house a prototype airship capable of carrying 60 tons, but by 2002 they were bankrupt and ordered to sell the building to a Tanjong, a Malaysian company. Tanjong was not in the airship business.

Instead they repurposed the hangar for their Tropical Islands Resort, a massive indoor theme park. They welded the 600-ton steel doors shut, replaced its steel skin with 20,000 square yards of translucent film, and brought along everything they needed to build a totally immersive, totally fake paradise: 600 feet of sandy beach for a fake shoreline, 50,000 trees of some 600 varieties, comprising the world's biggest indoor rainforest, and, of course, a nine-story water slide that sends riders shooting down into a 3,000 square yard swimming pool at 44 MPH. Yikes. I think I'd feel safer on the airship. [Air Space Mag via BoingBoing]