Moscow Gets Disneyland Type Theme Park: Dream Island

Dream Island (Russian: Остров Мечты; Ostrov Mechty) is an amusement park in Moscow that opened 29 February 2020. It is the largest indoor theme park in Europe.

The park covers 300,000 square meters. The appearance is in the style of a fairytale castle similar to Disneyland. The park has 29 unique attractions with many rides, as well as pedestrian malls with fountains and cycle paths. The complex includes a landscaped park along with a concert hall, a cinema, a hotel, a children’s sailing school, restaurants and shops.

The value of investment is $1.5 billion. Construction of the park began in March 2016. Construction was halted in early 2017 for financial reasons but was re-financed and restarted by late 2017.

There are nine themed zones, including Hotel Transylvania licensed from Sony Pictures, the Smurfs, licensed from Belgian company IMPS, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from Viacom, and Hello Kitty from Sanrio of Japan. Five characters were created by artists specifically for the park, such as Mowgli in the land of the dinosaurs, the world of Pinocchio and Papa Carlo, and the Castle of the Snow Queen.

There are promenades resembling the streets of world capitals and famous cities, including Rome, with the Colosseum in miniature; Barcelona with Gaudi’s buildings; and London. The park’s 72 acres are covered by Europe’s largest glass dome, to allow operation during Moscow’s winters.

Admission for a family of four on weekends is 11,000 rubles, or about US$163.

Two very Unique Hotels

The world’s first guitar-shaped hotel has officially opened for business. Standing 450 feet tall is the new face of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida—a surprisingly striking piece of architecture considering (or because?) it resembles a giant instrument.

The curvaceous building is part of a $1.5 billion expansion on the existing entertainment complex that wrapped up construction this summer. Designed by Hard Rock International’s go-to architect, Steve Peck of the Las Vegas-based firm Klai Juba Wald Architecture, the unprecedented structure took nearly 10 years to design and build. The 36-story hotel is the type of architectural landmark fit for the Hard Rock brand; it even features a rockin’ light show across its reflective glass facade.

Created in conjunction with DeSimone Consulting Engineers, who led the engineering on the project, the tower blends into the dark sky at night. The design team worked with Boston lighting designer DCL and Montreal digital agency Float4 to integrate 16,800 V-sticks (strips of LED video fixtures) on the rim of the guitar and the six vertical strings that run down its middle. Each evening, the hotel becomes a temporary light installation with interactive choreography set to music from Float4 and LED experts SACO Technologies.


Hotel Inntel Zaandam, Netherlands


Zaan is known for its charming and iconic green cottages. They just aren’t usually stacked 11 stories high to make one gigantic hotel that many have deemed an architectural monstrosity.

Inspired by the small cottages of the region and Claude Monet’s painting of the blue house of Zaandam, architect Wilfried van Winden set about creating a hotel that was both futuristic and retro simultaneously. Complete with 160 rooms, Turkish baths, a bar, and a swimming pool, Winden’s masterpiece has all the regular amenities of a hotel. Yet its design manages to allude to the idea that there is no place like home.

Altogether, the exterior features nearly 70 cottage facades, each with a varied shade of green and different window layout. Topped off with a red-orange roof, the stacked-cottage Inntel Hotel is one of the first parts of a revitalization campaign in the city, aimed at restoring its buildings without losing the charm of the town’s trademark architecture.

100,000 Duck Army Sent from China to Pakistan to Fight Locust Infestation?

A Chinese local state media report said earlier on Thursday that 100,000 ducks would be sent from the country’s Zheijiang province to Pakistan to eat-up the billions of locusts that are causing mass crop devastation.

Pakistan declared a national emergency earlier this month, saying locust figures were the worst in more than two decades. The media report initially stated ducks would be deployed to the worst affected affected areas  — Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab provinces. China had used ducks in the past to chomp through crop-damaging locusts.

The initial media report generated 520 million views on China’s popular social media platform Weibo with netizens rooting for the birds by posting comments including “Heroic ducks in harm’s way!” and “Go ducks! I hope you come back alive!


Experts assigned to help Pakistan combat its locust infestation have stepped-back from an earlier proposal of deploying some 100,000 ducks to devour the plague of crop-ravaging insects. They suggested pesticide instead.

Pakistani climate not duck-friendly 

Professor Zhang Long, a member of the China Locust Disaster Control Task Force and a professor at China Agriculture University, told reporters the Chinese ducks would not be suited to the environmental conditions in Pakistan.

“Ducks rely on water, but in Pakistan’s desert areas, the temperature is very high,” Zhang said. He and the other members of the Chinese specialist group have been designated to help Pakistan fight the locusts.

Instead, Zhang advised the use of chemical or biological pesticides, and suggested using an aircraft to deploy the pesticides, according to China’s CCTV.

Favorable weather conditions and a delayed government response have helped the locusts breed and attack crop areas.

The desert locusts — large herbivores that resemble grasshoppers — arrived in Pakistan from Iran in June and have already ravaged cotton, wheat, maize and other crops.

East Africa and India have also seen mass crop destruction due to locust invasions. In January, the UN called for international help to fight swarms of desert locusts sweeping through East Africa.

Locust swarms can fly up to 150 km (90 miles) a day with the wind, and consume as much in one day as about 35,000 people.

The Steep Streets of San Francisco


Many years ago I made it to San Francisco on a trip.  It is an amazing city in terms of stunning architecture, giant bridges, interesting cultural areas and very original scenes.  The geography and topography are unlike any other major city in North America.

San Francisco has very big hills throughout its whole area.  This creates very steep streets.  Driving down these streets is nerve-wracking when one is not used to them.  You come to a cross street and you cannot see the street below.  It is like you are approaching a cliff.

One of the effects of these steep streets is that the sidewalks get very hard to walk up.  So certain streets consist not of sidewalks, but steps.  It was absolutely amazing to see these steps that only the physically fit could, or should tackle.  And that an intoxicated person should avoid at all costs.