Russia may not be able to build a Space Mountain, but it has somehow figured out how to create the very same feeling at almost every other theme park. That is because on the outskirts of Moscow the Russians are building the Disneyland of the post-Soviet world. Many visitors have called it the “Disneyland of Russia.”
“They are taking it to the next level,” wrote Vladimir Chodin, an executive with the Kremlin’s state-owned ITAR-TASS news agency. He calls the authorities for a ride, and is thrilled to hear that the architect that designed Disneyland in Florida has built “the [expletive] Mickey Mouse Hotel.”
But there is nothing so much as an official budget to confirm Russia’s investment in an amusement park at the new resort in Sevastopol, the self-proclaimed capital of the former Soviet republic of Crimea.
All Russian citizens will have to do, however, is head to the Tchaikovsky theatre. It is said to be the world’s largest musical theatre under one roof. For those who do not know, it is just a few blocks away from the theme park. And how could they not know it was there? It’s used in all sorts of Russian propaganda: Beslan (Sept. 1, 2006), Anna Politkovskaya (Nov. 16, 2005), Sakhalin’s tragedy (Dec. 31, 2008), “A gunpowder wishlist” (Aug. 17, 2015), and so on.
As someone who has visited Disneyland, my impression is that it must be hard for Russians to believe what it means when they see their country “wasted,” as they put it.
“Mud gets everywhere, including in our rooms, and friends get sick,” Yegor (who goes by one name) told me. “Just like the streets get paved in our eternal white. Maybe it does, but it doesn’t.”
One man certainly had a different view. One of the park’s entrepreneurs, who asked that his name not be used, is not impressed. “Look at this: a whole floor of general merchandise,” he joked.
“In a few years the Russians will come to your resort and they’ll tell you what happened in Disneyland,” he continued. “It will be interesting to know, but the old here-and-there is very unsatisfying. And the fact that it’s in Sevastopol also doesn’t help, it sort of makes things more festive than they should be. But, anyway, at least we’ll have a Disneyland, albeit fictional.”