March 30, 2017

Wet ‘n Wild: Our dacha for a day

Glory to our great Party!

That’s what I felt like screaming to the blue skies that cloaked us in happiness as we strolled around the Wet n’ Wild waterpark in September 2016, just after we’d arrived in India. Apparently it was India’s first-ever waterpark resort. Like a fallen glamour queen, the years of fun and games were plainly visible but somehow overlooked because the good times that were had along the way were also front and center. Let me explain. 

In September the Rising Family™ was still living in a hotel and eager to explore our new surroundings in Gurgaon. The temperature was still hovering around 35 degrees Celsius outside every day and we needed some aquatic relief. We took the clickbait and decided to visit Wet n’ Wild. It is located several miles south of Gurgaon off the NH.8 Jaipur highway--Google Maps helped us find it.

We hopped out of the van and found the parking lot and entrance area utterly deserted. Was it even open? There was very little signage. We found our way in and were warmly welcomed by the duo of resort greeters in prim uniforms minding the register (3,300 rupees for the four of us). We were the first customers of the day. In fact, we were the only paying customers in the waterpark for the first three hours. 

That’s why I started this post with “Glory to our great Party.” From the beginning we were outnumbered by the drowsy-looking staff. They were initially a bit abashed to see us, but soon were helpful and gregarious, particularly toward the Rising Daughters. I quickly began to understand how relatives of the North Korean Great Leaders feel when they covertly visit amusement parks overseas. Or maybe Brezhnev-era nomenklatura bureaucratic elites getting some sun and surf in the Crimea. “What waterslide would you like to go on next, Dear Leader?”
What happened was that all the pool filtration systems, water fountains, slides and Jacuzzi jets were turned off. The staff would follow us around politely, and when we showed interest in a certain pool or slide, they would cheerfully turn on the water. Once we moved on, they’d turn it off. We’d use hand signals to communicate. Lines were – ahem – not a problem. We first thought this a la carte service was charming. Elena rode her favorite slides repeatedly until even she felt the odd atmosphere without other folks around. The lesson: people need people.

Visualize sun-bleached waterpark attractions that worked fine but had seen better days. Throw in loud music -- 1980s hits that were suddenly cut off due to periodic power outages – blasted to non-existent crowds, and you get the vibe: 1964 New York World’s Fair grounds circa 1975. 

The staff were cool about it all. They went about their duties at half-speed—why rush? The old, out-of-shape lifeguard with henna-orange-style hair was jolly and patient, but still made us obey some basic safety rules in the water. So safety wasn’t something entirely ignored.

All told, we had a delightful family outing but I just could not shake the Cult of Personality air to the place. We had it all to ourselves until well after lunch. Luckily, later in the afternoon a gaggle of teenage boys came along to add some zest to the place, soon followed by a Sikh family. Their daughter joined up with Elena and Marina for a bit of fun in the small family pool.

As we exited the waterpark later that afternoon, I half expected the staff to line up and clap. That would have been just a tad extreme, don’t ya think? All told, though, the Wet n’ Wild experience was simply fun and freaky.

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