Great family experience
After the recent accident at Imagica, I feel it best to mention it in the review too. Please read the following article that mentions a roller-coaster accident that happened on the 5th of Feb, 2014. While I have not changed my ratings for the theme park, as my experience was safe and happy, I would hate for someone to decide to visit the park after reading this review and be hurt in the process.
The review that follows was written about 9 months before the accident.
My family(3 adults and 3 kids) visited Adlabs Imagica today. The theme park(if driving from Mumbai) is around 80 kms or 100 minutes away. Toll will set you back Rs about 200(return). The tickets cost us INR 1200 per adult and INR 900 for children. These rates are the lowest possible rates, and apply only for weekdays. Also, the rates will be hiked in a month or so when all rides are operational. Right now, 3 or 4 big-attraction rides are still under construction.
Will get to that in detail. Parking charges are another INR 100. They do not allow outside food unless it's Cerelac or other infant food, so eating at the park will around INR 300-500 per head. This of course depends totally on you.
The first thing that struck me about the place as we pulled in to the parking lot was that the place was still a good 6-12 months away from being complete. A massive roller-coaster(called Nitro) clearly visible from the gate, was half-finished, and looked like something out of Final Destination - truncated at it's peak.
A staff member later told us that it would be operational in a month, but not open during monsoons. So, deployment month might be 9/13. Also(and thank God for this), the place did not look too crowded. This, for obvious reasons.
After a minor altercation with the gate-staff over carrying food inside(they won), we checked our baggage, bought the tickets and entered. Almost immediately, I was impressed. The place was beautifully designed. While I have not been to any international theme parks myself, I have seen them in movies and in pictures - and this one looked like one of those.
The silhouette of a fairy-tale castle, a very large water-body, a huge wooden ship and several rides jumped at us. And through out the 7 hours we spent there, we met and interacted with over 20 staff members, all of whom were pleasant, smiling, well informed and actually seemed to want to help. This, in my opinion, is Manmohan Shetty's biggest achievement. Not the 1650 crore park, but the hundreds of employees.
Comparisons to Essel World are but obvious. And the younger, sexier Imagica beats it's senior in all aspects. The higher entry-fee ensures that the park has good, decent folk - a must for family trippers. The rides are newer, faster and scarier. The restaurants are way better. And the staff at AI are about 100 times nicer than the EW guys. In fact, I can not remember meeting a single EW employee and going - "Hmmm. that person was good at his/her job".
But I ramble. Back to the program. We purchased some sun-protection for the kids and started hitting the rides with military discipline. Here's a quickie on the ones I remember best -
Cinema 360 - A dome-animation. Excellent animation. Terrible audio. The music was loud and jarring and the dialogues couldn't be heard. It's an underwater adventure which once or twice makes you actually believe that you are in the ocean too. Rating - 2/5, but a kid would love this.
Mr India - A 4-D ride that shakes and lurches you as an on-screen flying car zips and swerves across the sky. Featuring the cast of Mr India. This one I enjoyed. The screening was stalled in the middle for about 5 minutes as a little boy found it too nauseous. However, the staff handled it well and moved on. Rating - 3/5, and definitely good for kids.
Wrath Of the Gods - An acting performance coupled with a dynamic stage. Bit difficult to explain, but definitely worth the 30 minutes it took us to get in. But don't get your hopes up too much. That is the key to enjoying almost anything after all. Rating - 3/5, kids will like it.
Magic Carousel, Crazy Tea Cups, Tubby Take Off - Usual twirling/whirling slow rides. Good for kids.
Alibaba - A point-shoot-while-riding-a-slow-cart game. I scored 28700, which is pretty awesome I think. I like this game, but several kids and some adults had problems figuring it out. Well designed, although a little difficult to understand for some. Rating - 3.5/5.
I For India - A decent ride with a freakish queue system. We stood in line 3 times, in 3 serial queues to get into this one. Took us over 45 minutes. The show itself was good, but I wouldn't waste 45 minutes on it. It involves watching some exquisite aerial footage shot all over India, while suspended on seats.
The seats themselves do not move during the show, so it's strange why they don't allow kids for this gig. Anyways, here's my tip. When you enter, go for the seats that are extreme left. You'll know why. Rating - 3/5
Bump it Boats, Splash Ahoy - 2 rides on water. Kid-friendly. Bump-It-Boats isnt really boats bumping into each other. It's about squirting water and trying to wet the others, using water canons. Rating - 2/5. Kids love it though.
Bandits of Robin Hood - A surprisingly fast roller-coaster that is open to anyone over 40 inches in height. Better than the Zyclone at Essel World, if you need reference. 2 good drops, and some nasty spiraling. Rating - 3.5/5. Some kids might find this too extreme.
And, the top 3 -
Gold Rush Express - A wickedly quick coaster that climbs to about 12 stories high and then brings to down in style. For adults only. Rating - 4/5
Scream Machine - EXTREME thrills here. Not for the squeamish or faint hearted. My wife rode it 3 times back to back while I had my fill with one. A massive circular disc with people seated on the periphery, that gently turns, as a central perpendicular pendulum-like apparatus swings you about 10-12 stories above the ground. At times, you are almost upside down, over 100 feet in the air, and looking straight at the ground. Madness. Rating - 4.5/5
D2 Dare Drop - A vertical drop that subjects your poor body to 4 Gs. To put it in perspective, a NASA space shuttle subjects its astronauts to 3 Gs when leaving the Earth. The ride looks smooth from the outside. Au contraire. I had my specs knocked off my face and saw stars after the first pick-up drop sequence. This was the only ride I sat on more than once. Rating - 4.5/5. Needless to say, adults only.
Disappointingly, a ride that was supposed to be functional was'closed for maintenance'. Talking about Rajasaurus, a dinosaur themed water-slide ride. Too bad, considering how much kids love dinos.
Other attractions that seemed promising, but were closed(unfinished / under maintenance etc)
Deep Space - Dome style planetarium like show, I'm guessing.
Curse Of Salimgarh - Haunted house. Aooooooooo.
Nitro - Highest dropping coaster in Asia when complete, they say.
Imagica Capital - No clue.
The food was excellent. We tried out the Italian at Roberto's Food Coaster. The seating arrangement tends to get filled up during lunch hours, so be prepared to play musical-chairs. Stole some forks and spoons from here as souvenirs. Sorry Mr Shetty. Also, we had some mean burgers in a authentic looking American diner called Red Bonnet. Very nice, if a bit limited, menu-wise.
I plan to return to Imagica sans kids, so that we can spend our time on the rides meant for adults. Final advice-
1 Go on a weekday. They are cheaper and less crowded.
2 Carry spare clothes in case you want to get wet.
3 If your child is under 40 inches, they will miss a LOT of the good rides. Make them taller.
4> Summers get hot. Carry shades, block, caps and drink loads of water.
5> Cold drinking water is available throughout the park for free. Carry a bottle.
6> If your car does not have a remote key, try to remember where you parked it. Else, forever perish.
That's all folks.