Vladimir Putin attended the Tuesday opening of Patriot Park, a military theme park located about an hour outside of Moscow in Kubinka. Described as a “military Disneyland” in a Guardian newspaper feature, Patriot Park serves Russian Army rations at the food stands, the souvenir shops are filled with Putin memorabilia and kids can play with grenade launchers and climb over tanks.
Putin was taking part in “ARMY-2015,” a sort of Russian military trade show designed to show off the nation’s military innovations and technical prowess.
On the scene for the big day were members of the notorious pro-Putin biker gang the Night Wolves, who made headlines last month when they drove the 3,700-mile path of the Red Army across Eastern Europe to Berlin to mark the 70th anniversary of Russia’s victory in World War II (known locally as the Great Patriotic War).
Alexander Zaldostanov, the gang leader known as the Surgeon, was on site at Patriot Park on the first day and said, “When I look at all this stuff it makes me feel proud of Russia and realize that we have something to answer the Americans with. They wouldn’t dare to press the button. In Soviet times the army was a distant, faraway thing, but now we all feel closer to the army. The army is being romanticized and I see that as a good thing. If we don’t educate our own children then America will do it for us … like we have seen in Ukraine.”
The park is just in its first stages, but the Army will spend 20 billion rubles ($376 million) before it’s completed in 2017. There will be hotels and campgrounds so Russian families can take a true vacation while visitors ride tanks, shoot guns and play extreme sports.
The Guardian describes some of the souvenirs available to guests:
A stall sold fridge magnets depicting Russian and Soviet figures including Putin, Joseph Stalin and Lavrenty Beria, one of Stalin’s most notorious henchmen. Vending machines dispensed army-branded water, and shops sold iPhone cases, T-shirts, sweatshirts and bomber jackets branded with either Putin’s face or slogans extolling victory in the second world war.
So, should the Pentagon open its own theme park? Is America falling behind the Russians in the miltary entertainment sector? Let us know what you think in the comments.