‘Meteor Disneyland’? Russian city looks to meteor site’s future

March 05, 2013 | 9:44 a.m.
In Russia, the mayor has his eye on tourism in the wake of the meteor strike, which left a large hole in an iced-over lake. (AFP/Getty Images)

In Russia, the mayor has his eye on tourism in the wake of the meteor strike, which left a large hole in an iced-over lake. (Chelyabinsk Region Police Department / AFP / Getty Images)

Meteor Disneyland.  That’s just one of the ideas for future incarnations of the spot in southern Russia where a 10,000-ton meteor left its mark on Feb. 15.

The meteor blast injured thousands of people, many from shattered glass, and damaged structures and created a big hole in an iced-over lake.

Andrei Orlov, mayor of impact site Chebarkul, reportedly wrote on his blog that he’d been told that his little town of 40,000 “really got lucky.”  Now, he’s been told, don’t mess it up. On Feb. 21, according to the Moscow Times, the mayor called for a citywide brainstorming session on the best way to get into travel and tour books and also profit from this natural disaster.

It’s not the first time since the disaster that locals’ thoughts have turned to rubles.

As the Los Angeles Times reported on Feb. 19, many residents scooped up parts of the meteorite scattered around the region to sell on the Web.

For sale: a piece of meteorite. Cures cancer, AIDS and prostate. Improves academic performance at school,” read one ad, which asked for $10,000 for a chunk of rock, size unspecified.

Orlov held his brainstorming session recently, according to Bloomberg, and ideas that were floated included “Meteor Disneyland,” as well as an annual cosmic music and fireworks festival and a pyramid, topped with a lighted beacon, that floats on Chebarkul Lake.

Meteor Disneyland is not so odd when you consider some of the other theme parks that can be found around the world.  Here are five interesting ones:

1.) Stalin’s World. The official name of the Lithuanian theme park is Grutas Park. It contains relics of the country’s communist past, and visitors traipse along 2 miles of wooden walkways resembling those in Siberian prison camps, according to the Associated Press.

2.) Harmonyland. Japan is the place to go for cute at its most adorable extreme.  One of the main attractions at the Kyushu theme park is Kitty Castle. “This is the lovely house in which Helly Kitty lives,” says the park’s website.  The Sanrio characters boat ride has so much pastel and so many pairs of big eyes, adult visitors’ teeth may hurt.

3.) Diggerland.  England has four parks built around the theme of construction equipment.

4.) Hacienda Napoles.  The exotic-animal park is dedicated to drug kingpin and folk hero Pablo Escobar. The park, in Puerto Triunfo, Colombia, has at its entry a “Cessna that carried Escobar’s first load of cocaine to the United States,” says NPR.

5.) Here at home, there’s the Holy Land Experience, for those looking for a different kind of theme-park experience in Orlando.  Says Frommer’s: “Instead of thrill rides, visitors get lessons about Noah’s Ark, the limestone caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, 1st-century Jerusalem, and Jesus’ tomb.”

— Amy Hubbard

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