It has a fresh lick of paint today, but when we ventured to Hakone a few weeks ago, it was four in the evening, and it wore a deserted look. Tickets in hand we saunter in. The first to catch our attention was the Olympic-sized pool where you could paddle. So paddle we did.
Next was the bull ride. You sit on a motorised bull and when it starts, the deal is to stay on its back if you can. The music is on and the bull starts his work. Thank god for the crash mats. By the third attempt you are invariably shaken off and dropped unceremoniously off its back. Since it was more entertaining to watch people of all ages and sizes clamber the back of the bull and stay on (in vain), my intrepid kids chose to ogle.
But we did try the electric bumpy cars; I joined them in steering myself through a screamy round of a zippy ride. There are train rides and moonwalks, and a submarine and rides of different kinds for the babies. We headed towards the go-karting arena, and looked goggle-eyed at a few people racing in the 200-meter go-karting track in their mean four-wheelers. The kids were dying to give it a try and when I checked, I was relieved to know that each kart is controlled with a remote in case of emergencies. But the kids were underage as well as under-height.
What next? Nets and an arid zone, an abandoned jeep and empty oil drums spike my curiosity. I find adults, dressed in army fatigues walking out. It’s paintball. For those as ignorant as yours truly, this is a simulated war zone that two groups of adults pay to play mock war. The space comes with a simulated field of barriers and hideouts, mask and safety jackets right to plastic bullets. Certainly not for the bachchas.
I had been avoiding it, but resigned myself to going to the last play area. Slot machines, 3D rides and simulators, redemption machines, a pool table and all kinds of blingy games are fitted in. The kids are in seventh heaven. There is nothing I can do to get them out of here and the only chore I have been assigned is to run and get slot machine coins. The kids love the place. Here’s a space where you can take a group of kids across ages, and find something for everyone to do.
Central Avenue, opposite Nirvana Park, next to Powai Plaza, Hiranandani Gardens, Powai.
Train: Alight at Kanjurmarg (W) or Vikhroli (W) on the Central Railway line. Hail an auto to Hiranandani Gardens.
Road: Access from Eastern and Western Express Highways.
Timings: Daily, 2.30 pm to 10.30 pm
Charges: Entry is free, but each ride is ticketed, and you have to go to the entry counter for coupons. Specify the ride, and pay accordingly.
What can you eat: Burgers to Tandoori food .
What’s good: Entertainment for children across ages.
What’s not good: You need to return to the main counter to pick coins to play any game.
>> Hiranandani Gardens is a heritage garden with a wide range of botanical trees and shrubs.
>> Powai Lake for fresh air, and boating.