Soviet theme park features belt whippings, KGB interrogations
Mickey Mouse, roller coasters, and cotton candy typify the average theme park. But in one Lithuanian town, those amenities are exchanged for belt whippings and some good old fashioned KGB interrogation.
It's called "Gulag tourism." And Grutas Park offers visitors a journey back to 1984 to remind citizens what life was like under Soviet rule. Organizers believe that for those old enough to remember life in the Soviet Union, visiting the park can be therapeutic, filled with old memorabilia and humor.
"There are still many in Lithuania who are sick with Soviet nostalgia," said one organizer, "so we've started this show to help them recover."
After an amiable introduction, visitors are quickly transported back 25 years. They are ordered to stop smiling or thinking and are chased through an elaborate labyrinth of corridors. Any misstep can result in a violent encounter with angry KGB agents. All of the activity lasts two hours, costs more than 35 Euros, and takes place inside a bunker located in the woods.
For younger visitors, the park can serve as an interesting history lesson. "It was scary indeed the way they treated people," said a young woman who had just visited the park. "And people didn't know what to do. They would do whatever they want with people and that was frightening."
This video is from Reuters, broadcast January 22, 2008.