Three and a half years ago marked my first trip to India, and the experience was both fascinating and exhausting in equal measure. I'd not anticipated returning to the subcontinent quite so quickly, but after a particularly busy week in work in early January I decided that a complete change of scenery was needed in order to clear my head. Just six weeks later I found myself negotiating the labyrinth that is Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai after a two and a half hour flight from Abu Dhabi.
The plan was to visit EsselWorld and Planet Infiniti today, but the coaster at the latter was closed for maintenance. A staff member couldn't tell us whether the ride might open later in the day, but when we looked closely it became obvious that it wouldn't; there was no work underway in the middle of the afternoon, and a ride car was tied in place with a rope just outside the station. Though mildly irritating, my girlfriend wants to visit India, so I'm confident I'll be back at some point. A small warning for those attempting to repeat this trip; luggage of any kind is not permitted in the car park under the Infiniti Mall for security reasons; if using a car and driver, you will need to store suitcases elsewhere.
24th February 2014
EsselWorld has seen significant investment in recent years. Several major new attractions have been added since my last visit, including two rides from Huss, a Top Spin and a Shot'n'Drop. Both of these are very well presented, and look like they might have begun life on a fair circuit somewhere. In addition to the new attractions, a number of existing rides have been significantly reworked; one obvious example is the Junior Dodgem track, which now has a brightly lit facade rather than the painted one it used to wear. The changes have improved what was already a nice park, making the admission fee of INR 690 (roughly US $11) feel like a bargain.
It took us a while to find Zyclone (#2011), which has been moved from its original location beside the car park to the other end of the park next to the boat dock. The coaster has been repainted recently, and the casual observer would never realise that it is now twenty five years old. It also rides well, thanks to the unobtrusive lap bar restraint.
The Shot'n'Drop is billed as India's Tallest and Thrillest Attraction (sic) and the Oh My God Ride Facts list the capacity as 24 daring seats. Hyperbole and slang aside, however, this tower was running very well indeed today, with a programme that included a powerful upward launch (preceded by a countdown from ten in an Australian accent) and an unannounced downward launch. A large group of children on the ride with us practically ran from the exit back to the entrance queue for a second go.
I'd been looking forward to repeating Monsters in the Mist, but unlike last time the experience was a bit disappointing today, for the simple reason that the aforementioned mist was only present in one section of the ride. For the rest it was completely absent, allowing the various drive mechanisms to be clearly seen, which destroyed the overall atmosphere. We had four local school children in our car who chatted calmly throughout the journey, indicating that they didn't think all that much of it either.
Three laps on the Zipper Dipper were the highlight of our day. On our last visit this ride was painted in a dark brown hue, but this hasn't been done recently, and time and weather are working together to restore the ride to a more natural colour. The result looks considerably better, and the track quality feels like a classic wood coaster; a little bouncy, but in a fun rather than an uncomfortable way.
I caught one lap on Hoola Loop before heading to the exit.