BANGALORE: Arun K Chittilappilly, Executive Director at Wonderla Holidays Pvt Ltd has been the key architect of Wonderla, India’s largest amusement park promoted by the V- Guard Group.
He speaks to Vyas Sivanand about the learning from the recent accident at the park and his endeavor to bring in world-class amusement experience.
What has been the lesson learnt when running an amusement park, especially considering the accident in the recent past?
Running amusement parks since 2000, we have had a staggering total of 150 lakh visitors. We operate in a space where people are subject to rides and forces that they normally don’t experience everyday.
Therefore accidents can happen, even with the best of safety systems.
Hence, our job is to try and minimise accidents or loss of life to the largest extent possible. As a responsible organisation, we have taken all required safety measures.
Our safety standards meet and even exceed all standards that exist in India and overseas.
The recent incident was truly unfortunate but we believe that we took all the right steps to try and save a life.
We cannot comment further until the investigation is complete.
Unlike the West, the amusement park concept has still not caught up in India. Do you agree?
Water parks are a relatively new concept; but it is fast catching the imagination of people, particularly youngsters.
The popularity of water parks, as we keep adding new games and rides, will only increase with rising disposable income levels.
What are the unique features of Wonderla Bangalore?
Wonderla has 55 land and water based rides, the highest for any amusement park in the country.
Wonderla also features India’s tallest Ferris wheel located on the top of a 15-storey tower, which is known as the ‘Sky Wheel’.
Many of the rides have been imported from reputed international suppliers, and are unique to Wonderla. Wonderla is also the only park in the country to use an extensive water treatment system including heated pools for all its water rides during winter.
What are your future plans in terms of diversification and expansion?
We are planning to set up two amusement parks in Hyderabad and Chennai in the next four years, with an investment of around ` 450 crore.
Our plan is to set up amusement parks in major cities in South India and then we plan to look elsewhere in the country.
We are also entering the hospitali ty space with the opening of our first resort in Bangalore. We are looking at a similar set up at the Kochi Park.
What is the kind of footfall in Bangalore compared to Cochin?
For the FY 2011, Kochi will touch 11 lakh visitors this year and Bangalore, about 10 lakh.
Kochi has a slightly higher footfall because it is an older project and also has a lower priced ticket.
Bangalore however is faster growing and might overtake the Kochi park in the next couple of years.
The spend per visitor is much higher in Bangalore.