The other day, I was surprised to see an invite to witness The Grand Diwali Fest at Imagica in my inbox. Although I’m an adventure junkie who loves to climb mountains, it had been a while I’d visited an adventure park. Or maybe I’d just grown up. So when this opportunity came along, I decided to overlook the early morning hangover, the scorching heat, the endless walking around the theme park and revisit the good old 90s.
The two-hour drive to Imagica was a blissful one with the warm winter sun falling on my face. With me were two other bloggers and a few more meeting us at the Imagica entrance. Upon reaching, we were given a silver band to tie around our wrists — a badge meant for the privileged. While a sea of people waited in long queues and tried to contain the excitement of their unyielding kids, we strode across like prudes.
The first and the biggest attraction of the day was Snomagica, one of India’s largest snow parks covering an area of 15,000 sq. ft. For someone like me who’s scaled half a dozen of Himalayan peaks, the place seemed so-so at first glance. The entry was packed with parents, children and big groups all trying to stuff themselves in jackets, gloves and gumboots. The stinky odour was almost making me feel faint, but once we got in it was good fun. The place is perfect for families who want their kids to experience real snow, without having to travel up North.
The snow park is brimming with activities — you can do a quick photo shoot inside the igloo, play basketball, slide down the slope in a raft, climb past the obstacles, engage in a snow squabble or just relax and warm up with a cup of hot chocolate. What’s more, you don’t have to worry about your cute little eskimos eating the snow as it is edible without any chemicals and preservatives and 100 per cent safe. Towards the end of the experience, the park transforms into a discotheque with flashy lights and upbeat Bollywood numbers playing in the background.
After relishing the snow for about half an hour, we hopped on to a shuttle that took us to Aquamagica, the water park. The only unfortunate part was that we could only take a short tour around the place, without enjoying the rides. And although I was envying the bunch of teenagers screaming their guts out while plummeting down the slides at super-high speeds and toddlers lazing around in the lazy river post a scrumptious meal, I was somehow in love with the vibe of the place. The flowers, the artistic décor and the vibrant colours gave it a surreal quality, like a beautiful dream that you’d refuse to part with.
There are certain moments that make my chest swell with pride. Some of them include the climax of the movies Chak De and Mary Kom, the Independence Day parade and the mighty mountain ranges in our country. The I for India film at Imagica gave me a somewhat similar high. The virtual helicopter ride elevates you to amazing heights, and you feel like a bird soaring above gorgeous landscapes — from Ladakh to Kanyakumari, from Andaman to Varanasi, evoking patriotic emotions.
All about food
It’s about time we move over adventure parks with one big restaurant at its heart. Imagica has strategically placed food joints in every nook and corner to ensure you never stay hungry or go a long way to fetch a bottle of water. You could relish grilled chicken on a wooden deck, binge on comfort food in a 60′s American Diner, bite into oven fresh pizzas or lip-smacking Lebanese snacks next to the wave pool or nibble on hot sandwiches in a chilled snow park, there’s something for everyone. The best part is that each restaurant exudes a different theme, a unique ambience. Once done, head to the English bakery for some yum brownies.
A word of advice: Avoid binging before the crazy rides, avoid a pukefest.
The real deal
By noon, our group of bloggers had bonded so well, we looked like a family hopping from one ride into the other. These comprised the eerie corridors at the haunted fortress Salimgarh, the swampy world of dinosaurs accompanied by an unnerving water boat adventure packed with sudden twists and ambush turns (Rajasaurus River Adventure), a special effects show that unleashes God’s fury (Wrath of the Gods), India’s biggest and wildest roller coaster, the Nitro, standing at a staggering 132-feet high with over 2800 feet of track length, and 150 seconds of pure excitement, a wild ride that shoots you like a rocket in the sky in a matter of seconds at a speed of 73 km/hr (Dare 2 Drop), a dark coaster that will shoot you to crazy speeds in a matter of mere seconds (Deep Space) and a rotating pendulum ride that accelerates, rotates and swings you so high, you could touch the clouds (Scream Machine)!
Apart from a few rides, each ride at Imagica has a story to tell. A folktale, a scientific invention, an account of the prehistoric period and more. Just when you begin to think that timeless characters like Ali Baba and Aladdin aren’t too far from being swallowed by the digital world, an adventure park weaves these stories into exciting rides, beautifully blending literature with adrenaline.
Pick of the day
An interesting thing about Imagica is that after every ride, you can view your pictures at a nearby stall and even get them printed so they stay with you for life. At every corner, you’ll also find an Imagica store where you can shop for tees in quirky prints and patterns, soft toys, souvenirs and more.
The day came to a riveting end with a spectacular parade of fictional characters close to our heart followed by a spellbinding laser show. We began our return journey at 8 pm. Although my body had started giving up by then, I was grateful that the kid within me was still alive, nudging me to return soon. This time with my gang.
The Grand Diwali Fest at Imagica ends soon. For more details, visit http://www.adlabsimagica.com/diwali-celebration/