Sunday 20 December 2015

The Captain sails to Adlabs Imagica.

For over a year I have been a restaurant blogger and I wanted to write about much more. Travel blogging is something new to me but if there is one thing that I love more than food, its traveling. Uncharted territory and that makes it fun. After all mateys, if it ain't unknown it ain't fun, aye?

So I think the best way to begin this journey is with a memorable one.

It was a fresh winter morning when I got up with much anticipation and curiosity. I had been invited by the founders of a new food app called SEATRR and the PR of Adlabs Imagica to enjoy an all expenses paid trip to Adlabs Imagica, one of India's premier theme parks. This included Express passes for the rides, free grub and a comfortable bus ride to the park.

It almost felt like I had won a contest on the radio ha. This was one of the biggest food events of the year. A lot of Food bloggers, instagram folks and influencers had been invited on this trip. Some old faces and many new ones, this journey looked promising.

Due to Mumbai's hostile property rates and issues with permits, the better things are often found outside Mumbai. (If by any chance, any fella working for the Indian tourism board is reading this post - Please make Mumbai more tourist friendly ha.) This meant a bus trip to Imagica which took a little over two hours. But the trip was well worth it.

The first sight that I saw while getting off the bus upon my arrival was this beauty. Called Nitro, it was a rougher coaster(Roller Coaster sounds so 60's mate) and one of the most adventurous ones built in India. We were given Express passes which in reality resembled some kind of college wrist bands.

"I am the chosen one, I have the wrist band."

This was the view that greeted us when we passed the gates and entered the park. It resembled a mix of Disney land and some kind of an enchanted lake but this place's true beauty comes out after sunset. More on that later.

The folks at Imagica have put up a really good attraction I reckon. They seemed to have researched famous theme parks across the world like Universal studioes, Disney land etc and put in elements reminiscent of these places. They have also put in some personal and "desi" touches which make the place unique. It was a wonderland like none other.

"A good day begins with a strong breakfast."

Our first stop was at Roberto's, a restaurant run by a tiger like mascot in a chef's attire who was not so surprisingly named Roberto. The real chef Veeraj greeted our group later explaining his job and the fact that he is the commander in chief for all restaurants and eateries in Adlabs Imagica. That must be a tiring job. Glad I am not in his shoes.

We also met the Vice President of Adlabs Imagica, Manish who looked quite young for the job. Well that probably explains the energy in the park.

The mini buffet set for our group had average food but worked well as breakfast. I wasn't here to binge anyway. I just needed enough grub to start the day. I did find these brownies quite enticing though.

As I walked deeper into the park, this beauty caught me eye.

"Why hello there gorgeous, won't you let me Captain you today?"

Since photography was either difficult or prohibited on most rides, I sadly do not have any ride pictures to share(Apart from Nitro). Most of the rides seemed to have been adjusted to an enhanced "Indian safety standard" which meant losing some of their spunk and speed. Despite that, most of these were still enjoyable.

Nitro, the mammoth beauty at the entrance was a twist and turn kind of a coaster. The twists were fun but the loops were a bit tame. No butterflies in the tummy yet. It turned out to be a gentle giant if I have to put it in brief.

Gold Rush Express was more tame than the Nitro but its wild west elements added a touch of mystery to it. I enjoyed this coaster more than the previous one.

Scream Machine was a dual motion ride which swung like a pendulum and also rotated at the same time. This was the best ride for the adventurous types at Imagica. It gave me a bit of an adrenaline rush. The view from the top was fantastic and I loved how the wind went through my hair. Shame it got over fast like all good things in life usually do.

D2 Dare drop reminded me of similar rides in Disneyland using the same "rise and free fall" mechanism. The ride did feel exciting after the first two rise and drops but then the third one was weakened and the ride ended there. I felt a bit short changed since the wait for the ride to start was longer than the time on the moving ride. We were sitting strapped there for a whole ten minutes. Disneyland's version had given me eight rises and drops. A potentially good ride ruined due to its Ephemeral nature.

Salimgarh could use some work. There were only two live elements that actually startled us. Apart from grotesque but plastic looking sculptures, the ride didn't have any real scare factor to it. Though it seemed to have good potential, it appeared as if it was toned down for people with anxiety issues.

Deep Space, India's first indoor roller coaster and rumoured to be the most thrilling ride in the park was sadly closed for technical maintenance the whole day. Guess thats for another time then.

Our Lunch started at Zeze - The African Grill which was inside a Hut in a green enclosure. It did give a bit of a forest like safari feel to it. Though, the newer African music felt more modern and affected the Africaness factor a bit. I personally would have loved "The Lion sleeps tonight" since that would have added to the feel of the place.

The food was largely Indian apart from this skewer here. Chicken Sosatie was supposed to mimic the Cape Malay delicacy. It however turned out to be the popular Chicken Satay with an excess of chili rubbed on it making it very spicy for most folks. And these are food bloggers we are talking about. The spice was a bit of an irritant to the lips, so the best way to have this was to avoid using the lips or front teeth. One could use the fork to slide the meat off the skewers and pop it directly inside their mouths.

Many other dishes were non African like the Grilled Tandoori Chicken. We learnt that the bloggers buffet was different from their regular meal fixtures.

Piri Piri Chicken (Piri Piri is supposed to have originated in Africa)

The next part of the lunch was Red Bonnet which proved to be a better option for grub.
I feel like singin Elvis Songs for some reason.

The place was a perfect emulation of the quintessential 70's American diner. The Muscle Cars with red bonnets outside and inside the establishment also reminded one of the that. The place was much better than a McDonald or a Burger King. Both in ambiance and grub. As a brand it could seriously work outside the park too. I would pick Red Bonnet over a Macd any day.

Who needs regular fries when one could have a sinful portion of Cheesy fries. Nothing better on an adventurous and demanding day than tasty carbs I'd say ha.

"Why would you eat me?  Do you hate my smiling face? :(
And if cheesy fries felt like a less novelty then these soft Smiley fryums were an interesting treat. These tasted like soft potato discs with the same flavor as fries but the soft spiced coating on the top added an unique sensation. Though, it was a bit sad to eat smiling faces.

I have always wondered why American fast food chains don't stock Hot Dogs in India. Thankfully, Red Bonnet had these in flavorful abundance. The Chicken Hot Dog had a white German Sausage (I cannot recollect the name but I have had these once before from a Deli). The Hot dog was filling, tasty and seriously good grub. India needs more Hot Dogs in fast food chains or more Red Bonnets.

The Spicy Chicken Burger resembled popular fast food burgers in appearance but the flavor was far more superior to Macs, Kings or those at Dunkin Donuts. The flavor felt a bit curried and spicy-salty while the patty felt like pure chicken. Despite being full, the flavor made go for the burger.

The milkshakes were quite good and there were three options offered. Strawberry, Oreo and plain Chocolate. I particularly enjoyed the Oreo shake though, it could have been thicker.

I enjoyed the more moderate rides post lunch. Most of my time however, was spent on walking and admiring the park ha. The artificial waterfalls, the picturesque lake and the cave on the bridge offered a delightful urban adventure.

The Wrath of the Gods attraction was a bit of a damp squib literally. Apart from a very well crafted temple, it was nothing but a mix of some water splashing, pyrotechnics and some wind. The attraction could be made a whole lot interesting with the given infrastructure and perhaps more role play could be added to it. The public was having more fun trolling one of the actors.

As evening approached, a Flamboyant parade passed the central corridor of the park. This had dancers, floats, men on stilts and mascots walk by an intrigued crowd. Good ol' Roberto was dancing among the mascots too. But the most popular mascot was undoubtedly Mogambo - The megalomaniac villain from Mr. India. This reminded me of the Disney parade. Though not on the same level, Imagica's parade did feel magical and fun.

Finally Tis' Captain got to board the Arrmada and despite its incorrect spelling, I took me fancy on it and was chosen to command the glorious vessel.

With my Gary Stu moment gone, I found that it was one of the most beautiful cafes that I had ever been too. This ship shaped cafe had three decks and served all kinds of grub. I grabbed a few slices of the pizzas, shawarmas and cupcakes. The food was pedestrian but the experience was quite a marvel. Overlooking the parade road one one side and the artificial lake on the other, Arrmada was perhaps the zenith of my Imagica experience.

The early evening sights were quite beautiful, shame I could not get a better picture.

Decided to try the last few remaining rides.

The Mambo Chai Chama looked like an ordinary carousel with rotating cups. But with four strong hands turning the manual wheel, we managed to spin the cup like a frenzied testing device at NASA. Maybe we hit a few g forces. Time to go to the International space station next.

Mr India the Ride was one of the better experiences in the park. Set up in a 4D scenario with dynamic and sudden movements, it was quite fun. To not spoil the experience for the reader, I will not get into the details of this. I shall just say that it was a fun ride, especially if you are acquainted with Mr. India and Mogambo. I do not know who designed this ride but kudos and respect go to him/her.

With all rides done for the day, I strolled around with a few friends. The park's real beauty comes out with its lights in the night. It feels like a river of magic, fireflies and pixie dust. Something straight out of an Enid Blyton fable.

Remember when I mentioned that the real beauty comes out at night time. 

My pictures may not be the best but I do think that I have captured a few fine shots. There was an atmosphere of an enchanted carnival in the air and the visuals. This view alone makes the journey to Imagica worthy.

Well, t'was time for dinner and the last stop of my Imagica journey was at Imagica Capital.

This staircase lead me to the Capital at the top of the hillock. Quite a charming path I reckon. Felt a bit like those Japanese shrine staircases with radiant spirits floating in the air.

The grand citadel that I saw from the distance in the morning finally stood in front of me. This was Imagica Capital, the largest restaurant in the property.

There was even a small stage inside, where all the Imagica characters from the parades danced one by one. Roberto, Mogambo, Snow white and the dwarves, Cinderella and finally an Elephant who seemed to be the most popular one in the lot. Lets say, that this was truly an Imagical experience. Dinner followed shortly.

Some of the grub at the Dinner buffet. 

I was not very hungry on the account of stuffing myself throughout the day. But that didn't stop me from sampling things in bites and going all paparazzo over the platter. I made the dessert myself at the end using syrups over a scoop of vanilla. Me dessert stomach ensured that I ate the dessert heartily.

That brings me to the end of my Imagica journey. It was a fun day and a memorable experience. I thought of the good times as I walked towards the exit. But not before capturing this near the exit. I think its a nice way to mark an end to the Imagica voyage.

Well it was back to the bus and two hours to home. However, the memories will remain. It was quite a cool way to kick start the Winter.

On the way back, I tinkered around with the Seatrr App. It was a long way to home and a fun time to test things. Inside the app, I can either set my neighborhood manually or use GPS to set it. And then I can hunt for my favorite dishes. This is certainly easier than hunting restaurants and then checking whether the said restaurant has my thing or not. That can be quite tiring and annoying. Seatrr makes the whole process simple and easy. So when I checked for Cheesecakes in my neighborhood, I got five hits.

This was quite surprising since I only knew three of those five places. Seatrr located two more places which I had not known before. I knew about the existence of those places but I had not imagined that they served cheesecakes. Since this app relies on community based reviews, one could use their Google+ or Facebook account to log into the app and review the dishes in the restaurants. This would help future lost souls find their favorite grub.The App is decent but does have some minor issues that can be ironed out. But hey, its a fun try. Currently, this App is only available in India.

It was an eventful day and I was tired. I fell asleep as soon as I reached home. Some day in the future, I will open my blog and I will read this entry. And, I will probably re-live the experience again. This entry will probably store some magic from my Imagical journey.

"The Captain will continue sailing on the seas for more sights and adventure. Until next time."

 Score : 10/10

You can book your Imagica journey here,

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