The meaning of entertainment varies from person-to-person. Everybody defines the word according to their taste, choices and affordability. In Pakistan, many relish eating out with family or friends, whereas others prefer watching a movie at a cinema or merely enjoy doing so in the comforts of their home; while the excitement seekers or those tired of juggling in-between their routine life flock towards amusement parks. Even though Pakistan is yet to have a full-fledged theme park of its own but there is a large population who prefers taking their kids for a ride or two. A massive city like Karachi also lacks a well-developed amusement facility and people are left with nothing but a few amusement parks which can easily be counted on fingertips.
Most kids from the 80s and 90s merely had recreational spots to visit with only a few set up in Karachi’s Clifton; while those born around the turn of the century have had the chance to spend their childhood amidst several latest gaming machines, 3D and 4D rides, and newest adventure rides to seek fun. But most here have grown up dreaming about a visit to the great Disneylands of California, Paris, Florida, Alton Towers in UK, Universal Studios in LA or the Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi. The thrill and adventure rides offered around the world are nothing like the ones kids here have to settle with; nevertheless, it is all about the choices one has, at least there is something to feed the enjoyment-starved public. Our case in point here are the amusement parks that offer outdoor rides packed with thrill and adventure, as we take a look at what keeps a few of them running despite the lack of advancement and interest shown by the authorities.
What’s in for the public?
Despite the fact that people in Karachi are blessed with the sea to spend their leisure time at, many amusement parks here do offer some kind of entertainment to say the least. It is not just children who get to have all the fun, many teenagers and adults also seek thrill and adventure at various outdoor recreational areas. However, these parks function mostly due to a large number of children being their target market. Chunky Monkey is one such facility that has recently pulled a good number of crowds in Karachi. Speaking to MAG, Musharaf Sher, of Chunky Monkey, states, “We started operating two years ago and first launched it in Multan followed by a second one at Sea View in Karachi. The rides at Nisar Shaheed Park also come under our jurisdiction,” he further explains, “In Karachi, we have two parks wherein there are indoor and outdoor rides because they both attract kids immensely. Of the 70 rides in total, Drop Tower, Pirate Ship and Crazy Speed2 are few of our popular rides.”
Competition in the industry
When asked how the newly established facility thrives amidst immense competition, Sher says, “We do not compete with anyone in this business, it depends from area-to-area and we only focus on facilitating customers.
“Most amusement park businesses are based on the likes and dislikes of kids,” he points out, adding that it’s important for them to focus on the significance of children on a recreational business.
“Wherever kids find more charm, they rush towards that place, so there is no point of competition. As long as we facilitate kids better, they will certainly get attracted,” he asserts.
Aladin Amusement Park on the other hand has been in the business for a longer time now, as it has been operating for more than 15 years. Despite being located in a busy area, the amusement facility attracts crowds who throng the park regularly. However, law and order situation of the city does have an impact on the revenue generation of the park.
Shehzeen Safdar, who works for Aladin says, “On a good day - mostly weekends or holidays - the number of people who generally visit Aladin varies from 5,000-6,000 between 6-7pm in the evening,” she adds, “but in case the city comes to a standstill, the numbers drop to 1,500-2,500. Therefore, law and order in the city is crucial to our business, as a huge part of our revenue is generated through the entry fees of Rs. 50 only.”
Security and safety
The two popular amusement parks boast about their completely secure rides that have been operating smoothly. In response to a question regarding the safety of visitors who enjoy the rides, Shehzeen claims, “All our rides are certified. We have an emergency room and an ambulance which is always present in the premises along with a driver. There is also a first aid room where there is a doctor with everything to take care of in case of an accident.” She shared an instance when a kid accompanied with his teachers and classmates on a recreational trip fell sick on the premises and was later treated by the doctor at Aladin.
On the other hand, Chunky Monkey’s Musharaf Sher says, “On weekends we have at least 7,000-8,000 people visiting the facility. While on weekdays the number reduces to 1,000-2,000 during the standard timings between 4-12pm. On weekends, we close a bit late because we have a huge crowd.”
He too, assured about the optimal functioning and safety of all outdoor rides. Chunky Monkey, despite being a fairly new addition to the city’s recreational scene, pulls a fair number of people, especially on weekends.
Amusement hoods throughout Karachi attract crowds mostly from the middle, and lower-middle socio-economic segments of the society. Thrill rides such as the Drop Tower, Pirate Ship, and Crazy Speed2 are not suitable for children or the timid. Hill Park’s roller coaster ride, Bumper Cars and Ferris Wheel are among the favourites, although the facility is popular for its indoor arcade games mostly liked by teenagers and adults. Similarly Aladin is home to over 50 outdoor rides that include thrill and adventure rides such as Discovery, Free Fall, Pirate Ship, family rides such as the Ferris Wheel, as well as those dedicated for kids like Tea Cups, Caterpillar, Lady Bird and many more.
There are only a handful of recreational parks that are certainly not enough for a city that is home to a large population. More options and better ones indeed need to be provided to the public in order to help them spend their leisure time in the best possible way.