REVIEW: Ramoji Film City, Hyderabad, India

My annual trip to India took me to Hyderabad, a city known for its historic sites, its food, its pearls and for one of India’s best theme parks: Ramoji Film City.

Ramoji Film City is an active film studio built by Ramoji Rao, an Indian businessman, film producer, educationist, journalist and media entrepreneur. When it opened in 1996 it became the world’s largest film city as certified by the Guinness World Records.

The park is spread across a sprawling 2,000 acres 1h drive South East of the city. Every year it welcomes up to 1.5million movie fans from all over India (not so much from Hyderabad) as thousands of movies in Telugu, Tamil and Hindi were shot at the studios.

As I arrived from the main road all I could see was the giant Ramoji sign on the hill and the ticketing building (INR1,150 for Adult, INR950 for Child). From there, buses take visitors to the park entrance further inside the giant property. On a hot and dry summer day it very much felt like Hollywood with green oasis in the middle of rolling brown hills.

We got dropped in the Fundustan Zone (theme park rides and kids entertainment), where the beautiful red open buses start the Studio Tour. This is clearly the most exciting part of the day as we are about to see how movie sets come alive.

The tour is very well planned. It starts with a guided drive-through of some of the outdoor sets (Princess Street, North Town, Central Prison) followed by a walk-through of the Bhagavatham movie (Ramayana tale) set and the train station from Chennai Express.

Then everybody gets back on the bus for a few more stops: the gardens (Japanese, Mughal), the Eco Zone (bonsai park, butterfly park, bird park) and the Kripalu Caves. This reminded me of some of the popular ‘hybrid’ parks in Indonesia e.g. Taman Safari, Jatim Parks. I am never too sure if the owners just keep adding these attractions to increase the entertainment value or if there could be some educational reason. But here at Ramoji Film City it seemed even movie fans enjoyed the slight digression!

And now the last stop – and the highlight of the tour – before the final drop off at Movie Magic is the stunning set of the epic Baahubali movie, which got everybody very excited with its blue/green screens and giant props ideal for selfies.

Movie Magic is where the tour ends and it’s just above the Fundustan Zone (and the bus stop to the park exit). This is more of a “Universal Studios” type of zone with western themed facades (incl. a Statue of Liberty), a few attractions (incl. a making-of similar to Cinemagic at Bollywood Parks, Dubai) and live shows. I watched a good 15min black-light show inside the theatre; they also had a stunt show and cultural dance I didn’t get a chance to see.

Overall the experience is high quality thanks to a great maintenance and very helpful staff (they even helped me book a cab back to the city using their personal Ola app). The magic of going behind the scenes works for all ages and therefore everybody is excited and in a good mood. Combined with well-positioned food carts, photo opp (operated by DEI) and 5 restaurants offering 5 distinct menus and atmospheres, I would think the park does a healthy per cap, allowing in return for good maintenance and well trained staff.

Ramoji Film City ticks all the boxes of a successful theme park:

  • Location on a highway within 1h from the city centre of India’s 5th largest city
  • An owner with a vision, attention to details and reinvestment strategy
  • A healthy business model with synergies between the studio and the park
  • A strong drawing power: beloved Indians movies
  • A semi-guided experience for the entire family, which can’t fail
  • Good supporting facilities (hotels, adventure park) for the MICE market
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