Dream Island on opening day. Photo: Valery Sharifulin/TASS/Getty Images

Russia is opening its first theme park, Dream Island, on Saturday after two failed attempts, The New York Times reports.

Why now: Moscow now has a large enough group of middle-class consumers who can afford a trip to a theme park. The city has, as a result, already seen other new businesses spring up, such as shopping malls.

  • The park expects 5 million Moscow residents and 2.5 million tourists from elsewhere in Russia to visit annually, per the Times.
  • Dream Island cost $1.5 billion to complete.
  • Dream Island draws on elements of Disneyland, but opening a Disneyland theme park in Russia was out of the question given the tensions between the Russian and American governments, the Times notes.

What they're saying: Amiran Mustoev, the park's owner and director, said the purchasing power of the middle class will hold even as Western sanctions remain in place and oil prices stay low, according to the Times.

Background:

  • Former Soviet Union leader Nikita Khrushchev wanted a theme park "to mimic the soft power that America has to make people's lives more interesting and better," his granddaughter Nina Khrushcheva told the Times.
  • Former Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin attempted to build a theme park in the early post-Cold War years, but lacked the financing to do so.

Worth noting via the Times: "That the opening coincides with the coronavirus outbreak, when some people may want to avoid crowds, is another concern."

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