Moscow's billion-dollar theme park protected from Russian winter

Moscow (AFP) –


On the banks of the Moscow river, workers lay the finishing touches to a giant indoor amusement park, complete with its own Colosseum and other wonders of the world.

The billion-dollar project, called the "Island of Dreams", is backed by the Russian capital's mayor Sergei Sobyanin, who has overseen mega projects that have drastically changed the face of Europe's largest city.

Spanning 300,000 square meters (74 acres), the park is due to open by the end of the year and hopes to attract visitors all year round, shielding them from the Russian winter with its giant glass domes.

The form of the park was influenced by Moscow's harsh weather conditions, the chairman of the Island of Dream's board of directors Amiran Mutsoev told AFP.

"But we wanted people to have the feeling that they are taking a walk through a real city, not a mall," he said.

The amusement park has seven huge glass domes, the largest of which spans 8,500 square meters (91,000 square feet) and is 35 meters (115 feet) high.

Still covered in scaffolding, the park has real-life streets and sidewalks and will include shops, restaurants, a cinema and a concert hall.

It is dotted with replicas of recognisable landmarks from around the world, such as Barcelona's Casa Batllo modernist building by Antoni Gaudi.

Entry to the park will be free but visitors will have to pay to use its games and attractions.

Among those will be a Smurf village, complete with the cartoon's mushroom houses, and Snow White's castle.

The Island of Dreams plans to be open from morning to midnight and expects 50,000 visitors daily.