TNB Night Owl – This Ain’t Disneyland

Soviet Propaganda from the 1930s, image found by Adam Jones

Theme parks are known for having a number of pleasant attractions and rides… roller coasters, spinning rides, waterslides and the like. Sometimes, as with New Jersey’s Six Flags Great Adventure or Busch Gardens Florida, there’s an animal exhibit as well. Other times there are places for tours, like the brewery in Busch Gardens Virginia or the restaurant at Knott’s Berry Farm.

They have their known drawbacks, too. Long lines, sunburn, overpriced food, and being beaten while screamed at in Russian.

Okay, that last one is fairly unique. It’s part of Soviet Bunker (formerly, 1984), a tourist destination in Lithuania where a set number of people per day are brought into an abandoned nuclear bunker and allowed to experience what life was truly like in the Soviet Union.

Actors play the part of military leaders, local authorities and KGB members; all of them are old enough to remember what life used to be like, and most of them are amateur historians.. Everything is authentic; all of the decor and instrumentation were purchased or otherwise recovered and has been installed in the many corridors and rooms of the bunker in order to recreate the sensation of being back behind the iron curtain.

Once the tourists enter, no actor speaks Lithuanian anymore… it’s all Russian. Guards hold German Shepherds, ready to bark intimidatingly at a signal. Conformity is required, and that includes being subjected to long and repetitive propaganda speeches in between the anthems playing through the halls. You’ll learn how to don your gas mask in case of attack, and you will follow along. Deviation will get you interrogated – okay, everyone will typically get interrogated, it’s part of the program – but deviation will get you interrogated by the actors playing the KGB, who are allowed to smack guests with belts in an effort to force the tourist to sign a confession of one crime or another.

It’s a dream vacation for some history buffs, and a great way to clear away nostalgia for the Soviet era by anyone too young or too inexperienced to truly understand what life in a totalitarian state is like…. and a ticket costs less than $100 (notwithstanding the cost of getting to Lithuania.)

No long lines, no sunburn, no costly snacks… but strange, it definitely has strange.

Question of the night: What has been your favorite historical site to visit?

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About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.