The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Slide on the snow, race across the turf

A new ride a year, to draw the visitors near. Calcutta’s “oldest amusement park” has been operating on this principle since its inception on the outskirts of Salt Lake City in 1991. This year, for the first time in its 11-year-old history, Nicco Park has added three rides with an eye on the winter months.

“December to February is our peak season. Around this time, we get a mixed crowd composition of adults and children, while in summer and during Puja it is mainly kids on vacation. In 2001, for instance, the park registered 1.3 million entries, of which 0.5 million was in the end-of-the-year cycle,” points out park president Arijit Sengupta.

Iceland, which became the talk of the town last winter, is back with improved features and for a longer duration. The park has acquired two snow machines which are scattering flakes from a height of about 20 feet. “So it will actually be snowing at Nicco Park this Christmas,” laughs Sengupta. A blizzard greets the visitor into the amphitheatre; visibility dips as the mist machines create a cloud of dense fog. Slides at the corners allow revellers to roll down into the thick layer of ice on the floor. The strobe lights and pulsating music add zing to the chill in the 10 degree celsius zone. “Iceland is proving to be our top draw. According to a survey, 30 to 40 per cent of the visitors are going for this event,” says vice-president, projects & operations, Abhijeet Dutta.

Simuthriller, a ride-simulation experience, is the first of its kind in eastern India. The visitor straps on the seat-belt and is transported to the world projected on the screen as the seats bend and screech in sync with the action, all courtesy technology from Flight Avionics, UK. “We have three experiences — car racing, future city ride and underwater voyage — to offer by turns,” said Sengupta.

The third ride, The Sinking Titanic, is an inflated rubber ship 20 feet high and is already a hit with bouncing kids.

The park will soon roll out the tracks for the city’s biggest roller coaster. It is a Rs 2.5 crore project, with technical know-how being supplied by UK’s “no. 1 resort theme park” Blackpool Pleasure Beach. “Blackpool is the roller coaster capital of the world. It has around a dozen roller coasters, including the world’s tallest and fastest ride, the Max Big One,” the park president said. The Nicco Park version will be the replica of Cyclone. Conceived by US designer Charlie Page, it is under construction over two acres. The ropeway will rise to 50 feet and cover around 1 km in three minutes.

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