Fact Check

Does Russia Have a 'Military Disneyland' Theme Park?

It has nothing to do with Disney, but that nickname works better than "Military-Patriotic Park of Culture and Recreation of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation."

Published Jan 31, 2021

KUBINKA, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 6: (RUSSIA OUT) Musicians of the Paratroopers ensemble perform during the Spasskaya Tower Military Music Festival, on September 6, 2020 in Patriot Park, outside of Moscow, Russia. Due to coronavirus, the annual military music festival at Red Square was cancelled, an online show without spectators took place on Sunday at Carhedral Place in Patriot Park, Kubinka, 55 km (34 miles) west of Moscow. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images) (Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)
Image Via Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images
Claim:
Russia has a "Military Disneyland" theme park aimed at inspiring young people to do "military-patriotic" work.
What's True

In 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin opened a theme park named Patriot Park that showcases Russian military strength and history.

What's False

The name "Military Disneyland" is a nickname — the park has nothing to do with Disney.

In 2016, "at a time of heightened patriotism and military rhetoric in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea" according to The Guardian, Russian President Vladimir Putin officially opened a "vast military theme park" just outside of Moscow. At the time, Putin said that the park was part of Russia's "military-patriotic work with young people." In 2017, officials announced plans to build a model of the German Reichstag, which Soviet Troops stormed in the 1945 Battle of Berlin, so that "youth army soldiers can storm not just any building, but a concrete place.” As reported by Atlas Obscura in 2015, the park is essentially a large military installation:

The park covers more than 4,000 hectares, much of it taken up by military vehicles. There are more than 268 Soviet-era aircraft on display, including helicopters, and an armored vehicle section with around 350 tanks from various countries. Some of these can be taken for a virtual spin in the park’s military training simulators. Also, keep an eye out for a few intercontinental ballistic missiles.

For kids and adults of a warmongering nature, there’s also the Military Tactical Games Center. Here, the whole family can do some fun military-grade exercises before engaging in a simulation of urban warfare with airsoft guns and replicas of famous buildings (the park is supposedly building a replica of the Reichstag for kids to invade). At the shooting range, meanwhile, visitors can unleash their inner Rambo with a variety of weapons. Children can even take a quick class in sabotage.

"Military Disneyland" is an American nickname for the park, and this one presents a very different vibe than an actual Disneyland. The park's actual name in English "Patriot Park" (Патриот Парк) or the "Military-Patriotic Park of Culture and Recreation of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation" (Военно-Патриотический Парк Культуры И Отдыха Вооруженных Сил Российской). As such, claims of a "Military Disneyland" in Russia are a "Mixture" of truth and falsehood.

Alex Kasprak is an investigative journalist and science writer reporting on scientific misinformation, online fraud, and financial crime.

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