Sunday, July 9, 2017

A weekend staycation at Novotel Imagica!

June has been full of many trips for me. First Rajasthan, followed by Lavasa and finally a weekend at Imagica! I was really looking forward to this one as I hadn't been to Imagica yet even though it's so close to home and had heard so much about it! But since kiddo was too small, hadn't gone but now he is big enough to venture out.

The awesome guys from Imagica hooked us up with a room at Novotel Imagica - the onsite hotel they have. Sometimes residing in Navi Mumbai can be a blessing, because we reached Khopoli where Adlabs Imagica is in flat 45 minutes! That's closer than any other theme park in Mumbai or elsewhere for sure.

We checked-in smoothly, even though there was massive crowd because there was a whole corporate group that had checked-in and the hotel was sold out, but that did not affect the check-in process and time. They opened up counters everywhere to make sure no-one had to wait. I really liked that, because everywhere else I've been I have always had to wait for a good 15-20 minutes whenever there is crowd.

The room was decent, with all the amenities required and surprisingly it looked very similar to the Mercure Lavasa property I stayed in, which is also a part of Accor Hotels like Novotel. There was a balcony opening up to the view of the pool and hills - with a warning to keep it closed as there are insects and monkeys, yes monkeys. And we did spot a few lingering around!

We got settled, had lunch and then decided to hit the pool. We had an option to visit the water-park but we wanted to save energy for the next day's theme park and snow park and decided to explore the hotel amenities. The pool was amazing - temperature controlled and 4 feet throughout and a separate children's pool which was suitable for toddlers as well. My kiddo was absolutely thrilled - this was his first time in a pool and he simply did not want to come out. I was really happy at this, now I know that we can always look forward to pool time anywhere!

They have a trampoline set-up near the pool and a lot of lounging space if you want to just relax, have some hookah etc. They is a very nice kid's play area too, consisting of quite a few things to keep toddlers and kids occupied. They also have some indoor games for adults - carrom, foosball, table-tennis and snooker. Snooker is chargeable, rest are complimentary.

The best part about the Novotel Imagica was finding the Imagica characters hanging around in the hotel! You'll find Teddy and Mogambo just chilling around and you can definitely not miss the parade that happens in the breakfast buffet area every morning. All the kids and adults will find it equally entertaining, kids had joined the characters to dance on the hit tunes!

There is also a nice souvenir cum gift shop from where you can buy outfits, toys etc and they were not very expensive I'd say. I took the cute elephant cap for my kiddo, and a quirky sipper and a racer back top. P.S. You can also buy these online - Imagica has a online store for their souvenirs, so incase in a hurry you did not get time, or loved something and want more of them, voila!

Unfortunately for me, my li'l one was very cranky all evening till morning and I could not enjoy the breakfast or explore the bar - where they had live music by the way. But I was looking forward to the theme park the next day.

We checked-out of the hotel and left our luggage with them and just carried basic stuff and headed to Imagica. One big mistake I did here though was carried caps, but forgot sunglasses and sunscreen along with my luggage. Do not do that guys! Mumbai and outskirts are always temperature climate, and specially in summers it's hot and humid and it will get very uncomfortable. Wear  a loose comfy top and shorts for the theme park along with a cap, sunglasses and sunscreen - and lots of water!

We were allowed to carry food for the kiddo and we decided to go to the snow park first. This was an amazing experience, it was extremely cold - I think in minus and they gave us jackets, boots and gloves to wear. Though toddlers are allowed, parents are to look for any signs of discomfort and are advised to exit if it's getting unbearable for the toddler.

Inside the snow park is lots of snow, an igloo, polar bears and also a sledge! We had so much fun going down the snow on the sledge. The snow park is a 45 minute session and though it may sound like too less, you cannot really stay much longer - it gets really cold. But it was an amazing experience. You have to pay Rs.50 to take phones inside, but definitely do that - take atleast one phone to click pictures - because the camera person will take pictures and you'll have to shell out Rs.350 to buy one framed print. I found that a little expensive, I would have paid if it was 150-200Rs.

After the snow park we went for the indoor rides and shows as it was very hot and humid in the afternoon. The climate was excellent a day before when we were at novotel - it had even poured. But next day weather-wise was horrible. The sell mist-sprays, and I now I know why. We went for the Mr.India ride, Prince of the dark waters show, I for India show, Gold rush, Rajasauras, Salimgarh and Deep Space. There are a lot of rides for kids too, my toddler had gone off to sleep though. Some rides have an option for kids and senior citizens to sit on sofas while others go on the ride.

It was quite crowded because of the weekend and I totally recommend you take a express pass so that time is not wasted in the queues plus it gets very exhausting. We were fortunate to have express entries.

If you seek adrenaline rush and are up for the thrill - do not miss Nitro, Scream Machine and Dare 2 Drop. I did not go on these because I get really motion-sick and feel dizzy. It is a great idea to visit the website and look at the rides and make a note of which ones you definitely do not want to miss - and get a map at the entrance - because walking everywhere can get tiring. They do have the buggy rides you can hire to take you from one place to another. I wish they had like a walking pathway throughout where you could just stand and go from one place to another. :P

They have water and icecream/chocolate stalls everywhere - so that you can keep energising yourself. There are decent restaurant options which you can book in advance or go and eat at. We also bought a cool dinosaur after the Rajasaurus ride, and footwear for the kiddo. They've got a good collection of t-shirts too.

We were tired and happy at the end of it, and were happy that we'll be home in another 45 minutes. To sum it up, if travelling with kids here is what you should keep in mind -

1. Go for the express ticket - it will save a lot of time and energy
2. Stay hydrated and carry snacks for kiddo
3. Sunscreen, glasses and cap - do not forget
4. Comfortable clothes and a pair of change - Rajasaurus and a couple of other rides get you drenched
5. Stay at the hotel to make it into a weekend getaway instead of a day out

I can't wait to be back to try the water park the next time!