Sunday, August 8, 2010

Queensland Chennai - What to expect and what to detest.

Visiting a theme park was one of our agendas this vacation when all of my in laws were home for their annual break. Not a problem. But when you have multiple theme parks and no clue as to how well maintained these might be, the decision of selecting a park becomes complicated. We were a group of 11 in the age group of 9-75 so all round entertainment for all age groups was something we were on the lookout for. After asking around personally and posting a few enquiries over Facebook, we rounded up on Queensland as our destination of choice simply because that seemed to be the one frequented by our friends circle. When in doubt follow the crowd.

Set in the Bangalore trunk road, Queensland Amusement Park is just half an hours drive from Chennai city. So accessibility wise it is a definite yes. The park works all days except on Mondays from 10 am-7.30pm. The earlier you enter the better. Considering the sprawling 70 acre area of the park, be prepared to walk your feet off if you intend to see the whole of the park. There are food courts that give you average dishes but not the place to dine like royalty. I guess outside food is permitted since i saw a lot of school kids carrying their tiffins in. Surprisingly, there were no security checks at the entrance! You get so used to it while in the city that the lack of it strikes you strongly. These days even a shabby security check with worn out equipments puts me at ease. Big lapse there in impressing visitors with high end gizmos.

They tag you with a wrist strip that counts the rides you take. You cant repeat any rides and it makes sense because there wont be enough time left to try everything if you stay back for repetitions. Proper dressing is crucial. One of the lady's on a Tora Tora went flying off and hit her head hard on the floor when her duppatta got stuck in the security locks and gave away the latch. Apart from right outfit, a strong sun screen and comfortable shoes are highly recommended if you don't want to end up looking roasted and with sore feet. Chennai summers are brutal so make sure you are hydrated throughout. This trip is going to literally fry your brains out, plan it for the later half of the year when the fury of the sun calms down a bit. We made the trip in early August and it was hot but tolerable.

As is obvious i am going to be a bit pricky in this review and this is so from my exposure to a couple of other theme parks i have visited in South India. Although it was a long time ago, Veegaland was the best in my list till date. Coming back to first impressions on Queensland, honestly, the whole of the park was a little too dry and colourless for an Amusement park. I know it might sound unrealistic but ideally stepping into a theme park should feel like stepping into a fantasy world. In my opinion visual overload is a must in a theme park whether it be in flashy paints, colourful cartoons, exotic landscapes, over the top interior/exterior design and deco. Now i know i am being hard to please. Clearly, Queensland wasn't Disneyland, but they could still pay a little more attention to detail in making the park a bit more exciting to the eyes. I mention this in particular because i am obsessed with clicking pictures and the dull background didn't give me any appealing shots.

Putting aside this initial impression, i have to admit the park does offer a wide array of dry land rides. My personal preference is for extreme rides that make you puke your guts out. Keeping this criteria in mind the free fall, the roller coaster and the different variations of giant wheels that rotate and incline at varying angles at super dizzy speeds are must trys. Nothing like the high you get from having your head spinning and subjecting yourself to voluntary self torture! The main USP of Queensland i guess is the variety it offers. I haven't yet been to a theme park that offers cable car rope way rides, 3 km long joy train ride, Gaming arcade plaza and Go Kart race tracks all at the same place. They also have the Horror house, Fun House and Mirror House kind of entertainment. Individually they might not be perfect but collectively it gives off an impression that there is a lot on offer.

The water games however were a huge disappointment simply because there wasn't much on offer. The Himalayan Water ride that i was dieing to try was out of order. The only things left after that was the wave pool and the slide pools. The wave pool didn't make any massive waves and it was a misnomer to call it that. It was at best only a large swimming pool. For some reason they close it of at 4.30pm. The slide pool too, for me at least, was another big dissapointment because i wanted crazy scary slides and what they offered the lady's section were only kids slides which even my 9year old nephew slid through like a piece of cake. All the long and tunneled slides were on the men's side of the pool. Not fair!

But just being in the pool lifts up your spirits and you can have a ball of a time if you really want to. Since ladies and gents have separate sections in the pool you might want to make sure you have enough company of your sex before venturing in. Or else you might end up a lonely duck flapping on your own. I had a ball of a time pushing and splashing around my nieces and nephew. In the process i realised once again that the secret to enjoying a theme park experience is to push yourself to go for the rides that challenge your guts and forget acting your age!

So my verdict on Queensland is out - worth a visit once but not the place for water rides. The pricky me would give it a rating of 2 out of five simply because there is a lot of scope for improvement. Tonnes needs to be done before they claim the so called international standards.