Iraq

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

|

I don't know how this story slipped by me last week:

mickeysgun

Llewellyn Werner admits he is facing obstacles most amusement park developers never have to deal with—insurgent attacks and looting.

When you are building an amusement park in downtown Baghdad, those risks come with the territory.

Mr Werner, chairman of C3, a Los Angeles-based holding company for private equity firms, is pouring millions of dollars into developing the Baghdad Zoo and Entertainment Experience, a massive American-style amusement park that will feature a skateboard park, rides, a concert theatre and a museum. It is being designed by the firm that developed Disneyland….

A $1 million skateboard park, the first phase of the development, will open in July. Parts for 200,000 skateboards and materials to build ramps will be shipped from America to Iraq for assembly at state-owned factories and distributed free to Iraqi children along with helmets and knee pads.

If the attraction does open as planned, I'd be curious to learn how many of its costs are being borne by private investors who actually expect it to be a profitable park, and how many are being subsidized—via government factories, government security, or any other means—by leaders eager to establish a Potemkin Disneyland.

NEXT: Another Isolated Incident

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Does rent seeking know no bounds? Also, another small question. Do Iraqi youth skateboard in their spare time?

  2. Most Skateparks cost under $200K, from what I can tell.

    $1 million seems like another boondoggle.

  3. News stories like these prove to me that the world is beyond satire. How do you invent a story more ridiculous than this?

    We’re exporting peace, democracy, and skateboards at gunpoint! Go Team America!

    Seriously, this is surreal.

  4. America….. fuck yeah!!!!!

  5. Mickey Mouse reaching for his gun? I thought that only happened when someone was using Disney’s intellectual property.

  6. I see this and I immediately think “CIA cutout.”

    Does that make me a conspiracy freak?

  7. I’d be curious to know how long before the place gets blown to shit by a lunatic wearing a nailbomb.

  8. What no link to where the title comes from and the new economy it represents? No Whuffie for you!

  9. Am I the only one here who thinks this is a great idea? Probably the best $1 million dollars the government ever spends. Even if we ignore the humanitarian impact of giving kids who live in a war-torn country a taste of western comfort, this demonstrates both that the US cares about the future of Iraq and isn’t just carting away oil and laughing at the dead. It also gives them a taste of the benefits of trade with the US.

  10. There are lots of mutual funds for people with moral concerns these days (environmental, Koran compliant, fair trade, ect.). Companies with hearts is the next logical step. Trading off financial returns for doing good is fine as long as the company is upfront about it at the initial public offering. If there is no fraud, I have no object to a company with less profitable business plan.

  11. This is proof that Bush’s strategy in Iraq is working. Only in a free society can you have amusement parks. Islamofascists want to kill us all, but in our generosity we have given them a wonderful place for their children to play.

    All you anarcho-pacifist Paultards should be ashamed of yourself! This is true liberty! Saddam would never have given his people a skatepark, would he? No! Only a true mainstream libertarian like George Bush could have done that. We’ve given them democracy, Starbucks and Disneyland! God I’m so happy I could cry! Someone hand me a towel or a moist toilette.

  12. I’d be curious to know how long before the place gets blown to shit by a lunatic wearing a nailbomb.

    I’m thinking if I were building this thing I’d double, maybe triple, the amount of rebar used.

  13. To the person who is probably parodying Dondero,
    Please don’t parody Eric. I have trouble telling the difference between when someone parodies him and when he’s actually posting. If you are actually Dondero, then you are a retard. While I’m all for allowing private enterprise and free markets to operate without government constraints, to argue that building an amusement park in Baghdad is an act of generosity is foolish. It is a selfish, capitalistic venture. However, since I’m a libertarian and a capitalist, these words have no negative connotation for me. Long live capitalism! Viva el capitalismo!

  14. I have trouble telling the difference between when someone parodies him and when he’s actually posting.

    Ha ha…you could check his e-mail address, but I sense that your post in and of itself was a parody.

  15. I’d be curious to learn how many of its costs are being borne by private investors who actually expect it to be a profitable park and how many are being subsidized [by] government security

    Time out…libertarians (as opposed to anarchists) believe in government security “subsidizing” (or: protecting the rights of citizens) most businesses as well.

    Let’s not go over the top with criticism here.

  16. Naga Sadow | May 3, 2008, 2:15pm | #
    … Also, another small question. Do Iraqi youth skateboard in their spare time?

    I didn’t see any. I didn’t really see anywhere where you would wan’t to skateboard, the pavement wasn’t that good anywhere there wasn’t a lot of traffic.

  17. I hope they send this guy over there to keep the skate punks in line.

  18. Time out…libertarians (as opposed to anarchists) believe in government security “subsidizing” (or: protecting the rights of citizens) most businesses as well.

    Even from a minarchist perspective, if this drains away a large number of security forces that otherwise would be used elsewhere in Baghdad, that’s a subsidy of sorts. Cops on the beat is one thing; troops are another.

  19. an amusement park in downtown Baghdad

    Geez, I don’t know whether to feel good or bad about this…

  20. Even from a minarchist perspective, if this drains away a large number of security forces that otherwise would be used elsewhere in Baghdad, that’s a subsidy of sorts. Cops on the beat is one thing; troops are another.

    Granted, Jesse, but this could be argued about any area in America that attracts large crowds in search of entertainment. Would you support this more if it was just the Iraqi National Police who guarded this thing?

    I wouldn’t support troops patrolling THE Ohio State University’s campus, but I would support a larger police presence if trouble was present and/or expected.

    Granted, though, I don’t know what taxes are like in Iraq…additionally, I don’t know the honest picture of the state of security. From news accounts, it seems to have gotten worse since I left, but we know how notoriously bad the news can be…

  21. Mad Max:

    Mickey Mouse reaches for the gun anytime someone mentions the Song of the South as well…

    Nephilium

  22. Nephilium,

    Why? Is something wrong with *Song of the South*?

  23. Kinda hard to skate, dude, with all the rubble and body parts in the street.

  24. Scarlett O’Hara dressed as Mad Max:

    The Song of the South is a Disney movie that only those of us over the age of 25 will even remember. It was last seen on the big screen in 1986, and is (to my knowledge) the only Disney movie that has not been released on VHS or DVD in the US.

    Nephilium

  25. Wait a tick, Nephilium! I remember Song of the South and I am only 24.

    Br’er Rabbit and Br’er Bear (along with Uncle Remus) FTW!

  26. Ayn_Randian:

    When do you turn 25? This year or next? Silly toddlers remembering classic Disney movies.

    Of course, everyone knows the bluebird song…

    And don’t throw me into the Brier patch!

    Nephilium

  27. Dubya’s Iraq has been a Potemkin Disneyland/Never Never Land from the beginning.

    Something from GRIMM fairytales would be closer to the mark.

    Ruthless

  28. Those of you hung up on “Song of the South.”
    Just want you to know I spent a night in the home of Georgia’s “official” Uncle Remus in Eatonton, GA.
    It would have been long before you were born.
    And an old friend of mine was the understudy of the little girl in that movie. You never heard of her, because she was the understudy.

  29. It is being designed by the firm that developed Disneyland.

    I hope it does better than Freedomland.

  30. Most Skateparks cost under $200K, from what I can tell.

    $1 million seems like another boondoggle.

    Perhaps, but that may not reflect all of the added cost. There may be an added cost in building and shipping stuff in a war-torn and overall shitty area.

  31. I saw Uncle Remus (now he’s known as *Mr.* Remus). Is that the same as SoS?

  32. “I hope they send this guy over there to keep the skate punks in line.”

    Great link It Girl, I love how the cop doesn’t realize he’s being videotaped till after he completely overreacts & physically takes down a 14 year old kid for calling him dude.

  33. Travis, the cop was probably a Scatterbrain fan.

  34. I just wanted to say that “Potemkin Disneyland” is one of the most fascinating phrases I have seen in print in recent years, sort of like “imitation naugahyde.” Did you coin it, Jesse? Whoever did is a surrealist genius.

  35. Yes, I coined it myself. Thanks.

  36. Honestly I’d rather the government spend $1 million on a skatepark for kids in Baghdad than on some lazy corn farmer in Iowa.

  37. “Potemkin Disneyland” would be a good name for a rock band. At least, until Disney’s lawyers shut the band down.

  38. “Tragic Kingdom” has been used as a album name.

    And a 1.5 hit wonder, ugly kid joe, gave us:

    Disneyland is the place to be,
    Cmon baby, just you and me
    Hand in hand, to disneyland,
    We go ! not slow
    Happiest place, in the world until a madman grabs a girl;
    Hand in hand, with the madman she goes ! oh oh!

    Knife gleamin no feelins, axe wieldin, child stealin
    Madman is loose… in disneyland. (in disneyland)

  39. Harlan Ellison said it best: nobody fucks with the Mouse…

  40. libertarians (as opposed to anarchists)

    That’s a distinction without a difference in these parts.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.