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Soviet Sailors Invade Magic Kingdom for Fun

July 18, 1991

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) _ The Magic Kingdom got a friendly invasion of wide-eyed Soviet sailors, who did Pirates of the Caribbean, It’s a Small World and Big Thunder Mountain. They said they loved Mickey, Minnie and Goofy.

″It’s big, it’s best,″ said Sergei Marenko, one of about 90 sailors from Soviet warships anchored at Mayport Naval Station in Jacksonville who took in the Walt Disney World theme parks Wednesday.

The smiling sailors in blue and white uniforms waited in line to ride Space Mountain and Epcot Center’s World of Motion. They posed for photos with the Disney characters, with each other and with American tourists, who shook their hands and struck up conversations.

Interpreter Laura Drexler helped them communicate with other Disney visitors.

″The Americans have treated us as guests and will come to know us,″ said sailor Yannis Oobarsts. ″We’ll leave with an impression on how you live your life here.″

Three Soviet ships with about 1,000 sailors are spending four days in Florida at the U.S. Navy’s invitation. They’re also visiting malls and other tourist sites.

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