Adlabs Imagica: Inside India’s First Disney-Style Theme Park

  @MarkJohansonIBT on April 17 2013 8:41 PM

It’s Disney World meets the Hindu pantheon with a splash of Bollywood at India’s “first” theme park, Adlabs Imagica, which opens its sparkling gates Thursday about 90 minutes southeast of Mumbai.

The INR11 billion ($200 million) park will form the centerpiece of media mogul Manmohan Shetty’s INR16.5 billion ($305 million) 300-acre entertainment district along the Mumbai-Pune expressway. Shetty conceived the project in 2007, and it’s the flagship venture of Adlabs Entertainment Ltd.

“When Mr. Shetty started the Imax [in India], he changed the entire industry with digital multiplexes. He is now set to do the same with theme parks,” Aarti Shetty, creative director of Adlabs Entertainment and Manmohan’s daughter, explained to International Business Times a day before the opening. “The idea was to make a magical place where the entire family could spend a day and build memories which no other form of entertainment could give.”

Adlabs Imagica will be India’s “first entertainment theme park based on Indian stories in an international format.”

The 110-acre park will employ more than 2,000 locals both directly and indirectly in the catchment, and can accommodate as many as 20,000 visitors at a time across 21 “Indianized” attractions, including India’s largest roller coaster and 4D simulation rides.

Baltimore, Md.-based Premiere Rides, known for its work at several Six Flags and Universal Studios locations, is among an impressive list of designers behind some of the park’s biggest rides. Another U.S.-based company, Gateway Ticketing Systems, partnered with Adlabs to ensure a smooth ticketing experience.

South Asia’s first major theme park is split into six international zones: Viva Europa, Americana, Jambo Africa, Asiana, Arabia and India.

Viva Europa is a “land of innocence” full of children’s rides set along cobblestone pathways with Victorian lampposts. Americana is home to the park’s thrill rides like the Gold Rush Express and Dare 2 Drop roller coasters and the pendulum-like Scream Machine. It also has the Red Bonnet American Diner, replete with red leather chairs, checkered floors, neon lights and 1960s rock n’ roll music.

Africa, meanwhile, contains the dinosaur ride Rajasaurus River and the thatched ZeZe Bar and Grill; Asiana has the futuristic Cinema 360 and Deep Space attractions; while Arabia boasts the Magic Carousel and the interactive Alibaba ride.

Naturally, India forms the center of Adlabs Imagica, with historic Hindu-themed attractions like Wrath of the Gods and more contemporary ones like the motion-simulated Mr. India - The Ride, based on the infamous Bollywood villain Mogambo in the 1987 blockbuster of the same name.

Other highlights include live entertainment and an evening laser show.

Aarti said 16 of the 21 rides and four of the six restaurants will be open for the launch Thursday. A themed three-star hotel with 300 rooms and a water park with 14 rides are part of Phase 2 and Phase 3 of development within the sprawling Entertainment District. Shetty hopes to fill up the remainder of the 300-acre site with high-end real estate.

Introductory weekday adult tickets will cost INR1,200 ($22) and INR900 ($16) per child, while on a weekend or a holiday, adult tickets will cost INR1,500 ($27) and child tickets INR1,200 ($22). All are considerably large sums in a nation where the average ticket to the cinema sells for less than $2, but Adlabs Imagica aims to lure India’s growing middle class with more spending power for tourism.

“India is an evolved nation with mature consumers making informed choices,” Aarti explained. “Lifestyles are changing and the improvement in standard of living and increase in disposable incomes have enabled people to spend on leisure, entertainment and experiences that help them unwind.”

Ticket prices are expected to form 75 percent of the revenue, with the rest coming from food, beverage and merchandise sales. The park has a target of attracting 3 million visitors in the first year of operations.

Though it’s billed as India’s first theme park, greater Mumbai already boasts another amusement park: the 64-acre EsselWorld and Water Kingdom complex in Gorai. EsselWorld claims up to 1.8 million visitors annually, and with adult rates as low as INR 590 ($11), it’s easily a much more affordable alternative.

Come Thursday, however, EsselWorld may have to remove the title “India’s Largest Amusement Park” from its marketing material. A newer, flashier park from a member of the Bollywood elite has come to town.

Scroll down for a sneak peek at Adlabs Imagica.

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