Mumbai for kids: Wonder Park in Nerul, Navi Mumbai

The queue is serpentine; the day is hot. If we hadn’t travelled such a long way, I would have turned around and left. But we stand at the counter of the Wonder Park, Nerul, and wait our turn to pay and enter.

But, it’s nice when you get in. There is so much space on offer that you feel both wistful — that open green spaces like this do not exist in Mumbai — and happy (thank god an apartment complex or mall wasn’t built).

Wonder Park gets its name from the miniatures of the Seven Wonders of the World it houses — from the Taj Mahal to the Great Wall of China and the Colosseum. Each wonder has its space and a board with information. Of course, it’s where people stand to be photographed or take selfies (the Colosseum may not be possible in the next ten years, so what the heck!).

We are taken in by the faux river that runs on location, and the giant chessboard where two players can walk around and heft their moves. The amphitheatre, with a seating capacity of 1,000, is grand; you cannot help wanting to clamber up and sit to take in the view. As for the kids, they are torn: there is so much to do that they are unsure of which part of the park to stay in.

Do they take on the children’s play area or pay for the myriad mechanised rides on offer? In the end, we do a bit of everything, including bounding up and down in a inflated air-castle slide for younger kids.

The giant chessboard was a hit
The giant chessboard was a hit

The great part of Wonder Park is that they seem to have got it right: there’s simply no set of people who will come to Wonder Park and think what-am-I-going-to-do-here. With a great physical play area for six to 12-year-olds that has been secured with rubberised flooring, sprawling lawns, sufficient parking, a train ride, mechanised rides and jogging tracks, everyone has been thought of.

The toy train
The toy train

We went just before sunset and could enjoy the meandering walks of the 30-acre plot. It’s one of those places to go to in winter to simply have a picnic. There are plenty of trees and shaded areas to rest in even on a humid summer day.

Kids enjoy the space and activities
Kids enjoy the space and activities

The play areas with rubberised mats seem safe. Can’t guarantee the same for mechanised rides. Please accompany your kids wherever they choose to be

Fact file

Where: Uran Road, Sector 19A, Nerul, Navi Mumbai.
Best for: Girls and boys across ages
How to reach: Alight at Belapur or Nerul and hail an auto. It’s a popular landmark.
Timings: 6 am to 12 noon, 3 pm to 9 pm. Mondays closed.
Budget: Rs 35 adults (above 12 years/4.6”); child: R25. Four wheeler parking R50, two-wheeler parking R10. Toy train ride per round (3 pm-7 pm) R25, Mechanised rides (3 pm-7 pm) R25 per head. Carry R500.
Food: Best to carry food and do a picnic.
Water: Better to carry.
Rest Room facilities: Yes
Parent poll: Would I come here again, from Bandra? No. However, being a former resident of Navi Mumbai, I would make the trek if I lived in any part of the satellite city.
Kids’ poll: It’s really cool. Please can we stay longer?

What’s good: My 9 and 11-year-olds have outgrown parks but loved this one. As an adult, I get bored in parks; this time, I wasn’t.
What’s not so good: Overcrowding during vacations and holidays. Staff at entrance need to be more efficient. Counters need to be manned at all times. Management must take full onus.
Where else to go: Pandavkada falls, Nishiland Water Park and adjacent Rock Garden Central Park and Karnala.

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