Where: Kanjurmarg, near IIT Powai
Open: 10 am-10 pm, 7 days a week
Telephone: (022) 2577 1162 / 63
Sometime during the kids’ summer vacation, I chanced upon a newspaper clip advertising Happy Planet, a play-land for kids, with age appropriate rides and games. I made a mental note to check the place out, but somehow never got around to it. Last weekend when I was invited to a family gathering in Powai, it struck me that this was the best opportunity to discover if Happy Planet is indeed worth the long trip to Powai.
At around 2 pm on a Sunday afternoon, we set out from our apartment in Andheri; be warned, it’s quite a drive to Kanjurmarg, what with the construction of the Metro and the congestion in Andheri (E). Make sure you are armed with enough ideas to entertain the kids en route. We reached Kanjurmarg after an hour’s drive and my first impression was that neither the access nor the entrance to Happy Planet seemed inviting. Happy Planet is housed within the premises of an industrial estate/mill and makes no pretensions of style or grandeur. The only attempt at decor is the smiley face (mascot) stickers that are awkwardly put up all over the walls. I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about the ‘interesting’ abstract ceiling decoration; long strips of some kind of plastic hanging from the ceiling in close proximity, to appear like oceanic waves.
On arrival, we had to pick from the available packages. At first glance the prices seemed high; for instance, Rs. 250 / 275 per hour for any one type of play area or Rs.550 for the unlimited package seemed exorbitant. We opted for the unlimited package and went inside. The children were asked to remove their footwear and wear new, disposable socks provided by Happy Planet; the staff was particular that even the adults remove their footwear outside each ride. All efforts were made, successfully, to keep the play area clean.
Inside, every square foot of space was used effectively. The rides and attractions were cramped together in a very compact space; while the kids enjoyed the play, the adults had to jostle between the narrow aisles. The three main attractions are the Giant Soft Play, the Special Toddler Zone and the Inflatables or Moonwalkers. The Giant Soft play is a much bigger version of the usual ones at the local malls; it is an enclosed child-safe place with multiple activities that involve the use of gross motor skills like climbing a rope, walking a rope bridge and punching large bags. It also has 3 of the longest slides that I have seen in Mumbai, and is an automatic hit with the children. Parents, be warned of the long queues at this attraction, especially on weekends and during peak hours. The Toddler Zone is restricted to children below 5 years of age, and the staff is particular about the age group- this is really a plus for the younger children who are usually edged out of the other rides which are available to the older kids. This zone has some interesting stuff like a trampoline, a water bed where the child can roll and play, a ball pool and large brick like building blocks that are soft and light as thermocol and instantly attract the attention of the little ones. As far as the Inflatables go, the children can just keep jumping away till kingdom come. There are a handful of fun rides, mostly regular, like the caterpillar train and the inflatable pool boat, and some not-so regular activities like mini-golf which are not included in the package.
To sum up, Happy Planet is a GREAT place for children. All children ask for is a place to just be, to jump, to scream with delight and to unleash their energy, and they sure have it in abundance here! The rides require children to expend energy and be physically active and the place provides safe, clean, indoor environs to do so. Parents can bring children here for a full day’s outing, provided they can endure being quiet by-standers as their children tirelessly flit from ride to ride only to go straight back to where they started from!
I recently read an article about Mumbaiya words and phrases that would never make it to the Oxford list and one of them describes this place perfectly- paisa vasool- completely negating my initial impression of exorbitant!
A word of advice- if going on the weekend, try and reach in the early part of the day or plan to spend the afternoon here, because as the clock strikes 4 pm, the crowds slowly start trooping in till they’re tripping on your toes. Parents should ignore the facade of the building and other trappings, the children are least bothered with the pretense of ‘fancy’ and that’s what’s important, isn’t it?
P.S. I didn’t get a chance to check out their restaurant on the mezzanine floor but I hear from reliable sources that the food is not bad either.
(The author paid for her ticket to Happy Planet and the review is based on her personal experience. Have you been to Happy Planet? What was your experience? Use the comments section to tell other parents)
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