India launches its first theme park — with not a Disney character in sight (with gallery)

Published: April 19, 2013
Adlabs Imagica

Businessman Manmohan Shetty poses for a photograph with daughters Pooja Shetty (left) and Aarti Shetty at the Adlabs Imagica theme park in Khopoli, southwest of Mumbai, India on April 15, 2013. STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images

DEAN NELSON
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

India’s first entertainment theme park was launched Thursday near Mumbai with a series of rides based on Bollywood films, Hindu Gods, Mughal forts and a dubious subcontinental dinosaur — and not a single Hollywood cartoon character in sight.

Adlabs Imagica, spread over 300 acres on a site between India’s film and commerce capital and the retirement town of Pune, is India’s answer to Disney’s recent statement that the iconic Hollywood brand would never build a theme park in India because the country’s infrastructure was not yet ready to meet its standards.

Indian businessman Manmohan Shetty told The Daily Telegraph that Hollywood had no part in his theme park because Indians had very little interest in foreign films.

Only eight per cent of film audiences watched American films, while the overwhelming majority love home-grown Hindi, Tamil, Kannada and Bengali cinema.

Adlabs Imagica

A map featured on the Adlabs Imagica website shows that the amusement park will be divided into several themes, including an ‘India’ area. Screengrab/adlabsimagica.com

His theme park reflects Indians’ love of their own culture, he said, with attractions based on the dungeons and legends of Delhi’s Mughal-period Salimgarh Fort, a bumpy car ride mimicking the adventures of the Bollywood superhero from the cult 1987 film “Mr. India” with Anil Kapoor, who starred in “Slumdog Millionaire.”

Other rides include one themed on Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and a river ride named after the fictitious Indian dinosaur, the Rajasaurus. “We call it the Indian dinosaur, but no one will question me about something from 15,000 years ago,” Mr. Shetty said.

“We’ve started our own theme park as an attraction for middle-class families. In the last 10 years we’ve had shopping malls, multiplex cinemas, international brands, there has been enough disposable income in India, now we have a theme park where people can spend the whole day with their families,” he said.

ADLABS IMAGICA

Picture 1 of 22

A woman rides 'Tubbby Takes Off' at Adlabs Imagica theme park, operated by Adlabs Entertainment Ltd., during its public opening in Sangdewadi, Maharashtra, India, on Thursday, April 18, 2013. Adlabs Imagica, India's largest entertainment theme park, opened on April 18. Kuni Takahashi/Bloomberg

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