- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 15, 2002

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) Prince Charles, Greenpeace and the United Nations are upset with Romania's plans to build a Dracula theme park in Transylvania.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has warned Romanian officials that the park, which is expected to attract large numbers of tourists and cars, would threaten efforts to preserve the nearby Sighisoara citadel, a UNESCO heritage site.
But Romanian officials rejected the criticism yesterday and announced that the government would sign a contract today with an international auditor to evaluate the project.
Dracula Park is to be built in Sighisoara, hometown of the 15th-century Prince Vlad the Impaler, whose practice of impaling captured Turks and other enemies on stakes inspired novelist Bram Stoker, who wrote "Dracula."
Deputy Tourism Minister Alin Burcea rejected the criticism, calling the U.N. fears "unrealistic." He said tourism and UNESCO officials will meet later this month to discuss the project.
"Depending on that meeting, the Tourism Ministry will study the impact of the project and find solutions," the private news agency Mediafax quoted Mr. Burcea as saying.
Britain's Prince Charles and the environmental group Greenpeace also have expressed concerns about the park.
Tourism Minister Dan Matei Agathon, who has threatened to resign if the park is not built, has suggested it could be built at a different site.
The park, to be privately funded, will cost about $15.6 million, with an additional $19 million needed for infrastructure work, such as improving the conditions of roads leading to the site.
The park is to include amusement rides, a golf course, a Gothic castle wired with spooky effects, a zoo, horseback riding, restaurants and shops.
The government hopes the park will attract tourists and improve Transylvania's ailing economy.

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