NEW YORK -- The Transylvanian town Sighisoara will be the site of a new theme park that Romanian officials hope will have some bite: Dracula Land.

Dracula Land is slated to open in 2003 on 150 acres of land about three miles from Sighisoara, a preserved medieval town that also was the birthplace of Prince Vlad Tepes, the inspiration for Bram Stoker's vampire count. It will cost about $40 million to build the park and upgrade the surrounding infrastructure; the price tag will be split between the Romanian government and private European investors, according to the Romanian National Tourist Office here.

Dracula Land will be built outside Sighisoara, a preserved walled medieval town in Romania. The park will be divided into three sections: one devoted to the fictional vampire Count Dracula, one showcasing Romanian culture and one for theme park rides.

Overall, the "Dracula Experience" is alive and well in Romania. Dracula tours, Dracula wine to drink at the Prince Dracula Inn, the Count Dracula Club and other Dracula-themed tours and knicknacks brought in an estimated $35 million last year, the tourist office said.

According to the tourist office, 500,000 visitors are predicted to flock to Dracula Land in its first year and then double to 1 million visitors in the second year. The park is expected to create around 3,000 jobs.

Sighisoara beat out several other proposed sites, including Bran and Bistrita, both of which are popular stops on Dracula-themed tours.

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