If Walt Disney had been born in Russia and had been really into the military instead of animation, he might have built something like Patriot Park instead of Disneyland.
Patriot Park, which glorifies Russia’s military might, opened in June in Kubinka, a town about an hour’s drive from Moscow. It should come as no surprise that the debut coincides with a recent upsurge in Russian patriotism and militarism. The country’s president, Vladimir Putin, appeared at the “grand opening” (even though the park won’t officially open to the public until sometime in 2017).
The festivities included “Army 2015,” a special convention for arms dealers and military manufacturers, in addition to performances by army choirs and what’s been described as a “robot-dancing special forces unit.”In a speech during the opening ceremony, Putin further outlined one of the goals of Patriot Park, calling it “an important element in our system of military-patriotic work with young people.”
Future visitors young and old will reportedly get to try out weapons that include Kalashnikov assault rifles and rocket launchers. Kids will get up-close glimpses at actual tanks and even be able to crawl around on top of them. Patriot Park will also serve army rations in its onsite cafeteria and is set to routinely host military drills and performances starring the Russian Knights, a jet fighter aerobatics team similar to the Blue Angels. If that wasn’t crazy enough, the park will also feature Russian rocket systems, including the same model of air-defense system that is suspected to have been used to shoot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in 2014. Once Patriot Park is finally completed, the estimated $362 million attraction (which was paid for by Russia’s defense ministry) will also feature hotels and daily reenactments of famous military victories from the country’s past.
Sergei Privalov, a Russian priest, attended the opening ceremony in June. “I think this park is a gift to Russian citizens, who can now behold the full power of the Russian armed forces,” he The Guardian. “Children should come here, play with the weaponry and climb on the tanks and see all the most modern technology, which they would not have known about before.” Critics around the world, however, have roundly denounced the park, calling it “hyper-jingoistic” to “a theme park for warmongers.”