Groundbreaking for Dracula Land to begin

SIGHISOARA, Romania -- Groundbreaking on a $31.5 million theme park based on the Dracula legend can proceed in this Transylvanian city this spring now that investors have raised enough start-up cash, said officials.

Some 65% of required funds were secured in a $5 million public offering that attracted investment by both foreign companies and Romanian individuals, said Simion Alb, director of the Romanian National Tourist Office in New York.

Slated to open in spring 2004, the 285-acre Dracula Land park will feature a medieval castle, handicrafts shops and restaurants, an amusement rides area, a horseback riding center and an International Institute of Vampirology presenting vampire-related curia from around the world.

Alb said the development also will feature a 150-acre golf course, Romania's first.

Sighisoara is the hometown of 15th century Romanian ruler Vlad "the Impaler" Tepes, whose legendary bloody exploits inspired Bram Stoker's ficitonal Count Dracula.

Romania last year welcomed about 78,000 Americans. Alb said he expects Dracula Land to attract an additional 3,000 to 5,000 U.S. tourists in its first year, and between 20,000 and 25,000 more after three years.

By its fourth year of operation, Dracula Land is expected to host a steady 1.1 million visitors per year, divided evenly between Romanians and foreigners.

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