As the Mayan calendar winds down, doomsday bunker companies are laughing all the way to the bank. Image: Break Things/Flickr

Business is booming for companies in the U.S. that design and build doomsday bunkers. Instead of the nuclear Armageddon scare of the 1950s, the doomsday bunker craze is being fueled by fears of economic collapse and the Mayan calendar. Instead of family-sized capsules buried in the backyard, the doomsday bunkers of the 21st century resemble luxury hotels complete with wine cellars and institutional kitchens.

Happy days for doomsday bunker companies

Companies that sell doomsday bunkers are having a heyday as an epidemic of financial meltdowns, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, a nuclear disaster and another war in the Middle East have sent sales of doomsday bunkers soaring. Doomsday bunker companies have been watching sales rise as the calendar approaches Dec. 12. 2012 — the day the Mayan calendar ends. But the Middle East uprising, Japan earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster sent sales off the charts. CNN reports that Northwest Shelter Systems, which markets doomsday bunkers that go for anywhere from $200,000 to $20 million, has enjoyed a 70 percent increase in sales. UndergroundBombShelter.com, a source for portable fallout shelters, bomb shelters and underground bunkers, has fielded a 400 percent increase in inquiries since the Japan earthquake. Its most popular item is the $9,500 nuclear biological chemical shelter tent.

Living in apocalyptic luxury

Perhaps the mother of all doomsday bunkers is a massive project underground in Nebraska. Vivos signs people up for “co-ownership” in five 200-person doomsday bunkers under construction in the U.S., and co-owners pay $25,000 each. The company’s reservations, which require a $5,000 fee, spiked 1,000 percent in the week following the Japan earthquake and nuclear disaster. Vivos’ doomsday bunker under construction in Nebraska is bigger than a Walmart at 137,000 square feet. Built to withstand a 50 megaton nuclear blast, it will accommodate 950 people in apocalyptic luxury for up to a year. It will offer suites on four levels, plus a medical and dental center, kitchens, a fully-stocked wine cellar, pool tables, computer room, pet kennels and a jail. A hardened lookout tower 350 feet high will provide a panoramic view of the ravaged landscape, and tight security will prevent radioactive mutant zombies from getting inside.

Is the Mayan calendar a false alarm?

Vivos promotes its doomsday bunkers with a dramatic video about the end of the world as forecast by the Mayan Calendar. The company’s website features a countdown with the days, hours, minutes and seconds to Dec. 21, 2012. But that date may be a false alarm. A textbook released last fall titled “Calendars and Years II: Astronomy and Time in the Ancient and Medieval World” (Oxbow Books, 2010), states that the conversion of dates from the Mayan calendar to the modern Gregorian calendar may be off by 50 to 100 years. The Vivos website included no information about whether the $5,000 reservation fee is refundable.

Sources

CNNMoney.com: http://money.cnn.com/2011/03/22/real_estate/doomsday_bunkers/index.htm

ABC News: http://abcnews.go.com/Business/underground-bunkers-big-business/story?id=13212546&page=2

TIME: http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/03/25/sign-of-the-apocalypse-bunker-sales-increase-after-japan-earthquake/

Live Science: http://www.livescience.com/11053-earth-postponed.html

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