Last weekend I visited Imagica, the entertainment theme park on Mumbai-Pune expressway, and I came away hopeful. It is a big leap compared to the other theme parks we have in the country. Though almost all the rides are influenced by their western counterparts, it is adapted beautifully for Indian sensibilities by using stories like Alibaba and Chaalis Chor, Mr India etc.
Most rides have a story (being broadcasted on TV screens while you wait) and elaborate sets, which make you feel like you are visiting a gold mine or a scientist’s laboratory or a cave. The rides in themselves aim to bring something new. While there are the traditional roller coasters you also have motion simulation technology and a 360-degree dome theatre, which sets it apart.
Among the rides, the Scream Machine takes the cake. It starts with the floor moving apart and as you wait in anticipation, the machine start moving like a pendulum, spinning simultaneously, all the while gathering pace and rises to as much as 120 degrees. As it rises higher, it leaves you face to face with the sun/moon, which is an amazing feeling and then it suspends you face down, giving you an aerial view of not just the entire park but the area beyond. All this in a matter of minutes, with the wind blowing and the shrieks (screams) of the co-passengers, makes it a must visit. Obviously, it is not for the fainthearted.
The other rides are the roller coasters – Bandits of Robin Hood, which we all thought was too short a ride devoid of any interesting turns and the Gold Rush Express, which was decent, with nice drops and good pace. The main roller coaster wasn’t yet operational and is expected to start by October.
Then there is Dare to Drop. It takes you right up to 132 feet in a single sudden move in matter of seconds but it is the fall that you await and it is here that it disappoints. You expect a free fall, a drop any second right to the bottom (like the Space Shot with your heart in your mouth) but it seems more like a rope and pulley arrangement and you are cautiously dropped in installments, draining away all fun.
Apart from these, you have children’s rides like the Magic Carousel, tea cups, Tubby takes off, Splash Ahoy! and others.
Rajasaurus is the only water ride for adults functional yet. It serves dual purposes – one it takes you through the land of dinosaurs, which is beautifully done, giving you ample of time to notice the land and then drops you right down so that the water splashes all over you, which in the summer heat feels heavenly. Alibaba and Chaalis Chor is essentially target practice where you have to gun down the thieves as you pass through the cave.
And now, for the different rides. The evil supremo Mogambo is back and has taken the kids hostage for the invisibility bracelet. Mr. India needs to find him and beat him once and for all. As Mr. India battles the bad guys, his very-own created robot ‘Toota-Phoota’ takes you in a flying car right at the centre of the action. You go left, right, centre, backpedal, feel the crash and the dive as you together beat the bad guys and rescue the kids. Based on motion simulation technology, this ride is definitely not to be missed.
Then, you have i for India, which takes you on a virtual tour of India, giving you a glimpse into the many magnificent sites that our country holds in its folds. Wrath of the Gods exposes you to the three base forces in nature while Prince of the Dark Waters takes you on an virtual tour underwater.
These rides are all must-visits and are a different experience though not yet close to international standards. What is nice though is that there are enough rides to keep you entertained but not so many that you have to rush around to finish them all. You can easily, sit back and relax and sip coffee while there are live performances going on or just go on a photo spree, using the specially designed sets as backdrop.
On the food front, there are three restaurants and couple of cafes. We tried African food for the first time and it was quite nice albeit a little too spicy. There is also an American diner and a multi-cuisine diner with Chinese, Indian and even Jain food.
Overall, I think one must visit the park atleast once as it makes a good one-day getaway.
Tip: It is advisable to reach early and finish as many rides as possible as post lunch the crowd really increases. Also, check out the park with the map below.