On Friday the wifey and I decided that we would visit Chessington World of Adventures on Saturday 22nd Agust 2009. We pre-bought one ticket for her through her work link with the Merlin Group for £20 and we planned to use our Nectar points for a ticket for myself (4,300 points per Adult ticket).
We left home at around 8:30 for the hour drive to Chessington World of Adventures aiming to be there in time to buy tickets and make rope-drop at 10:00am (I later discovered that visitors to the nearby Holiday Inn Chessington can enter the park from 9:30am…although I’m not sure it’s worth thr £100 per night!)
We arrived shortly after 9:30 and were very surprised to be in the fist ten rows of the South car park. We had come prepared for there to be long waits for all the attractions however we decided to go ahead with Chessington World of Adventures as they also have a Zoo and a SeaLife Centre which we had planned to do if the rides were too busy.
We picked up tickets without too much hassle (I would advise pre-booking tickets as there was no wait at the collection booth but a 10 minute wait to buy tickets) and after queueing for a while we were through the ticket barriers. Now I found this very odd…a theme park who is appealing to the family groups had just ONE turnstile for buggies to go through and 19 others. We were then held by the Dragon’s Fury Rollercoaster while we awaited 10:00am and while waiting here we made the first purchase of the day…a re-fillable Coke mug for £4.99 which could be re-filled as much as required during that trip.
After the 10:00 rope drop the first ride of the day was Dragon Falls…due to the height restriction of 90cm it was just myself and Kacee who rode this. It was rather a good ride and Kacee thoroughly enjoyed his first ever log flume ride. He did get a little scared when the large drop came up but by the time we hit the bottom he was giggling so he must have liked it. You didn’t really get that wet sat in the front of the boat, especially with just myself and Kacee in the boat…a few people behind us got soaked though so I guess it all depends.
Next we rushed over to Tomb Blaster. This one was a fmaily ride which would have allowed mackyln to ride with us but he had fallen asleep so I let Ellie take Kacee on this ride. Tomb Blaster is an interactive laser-shooting attraction themed as an adventure into a historic tomb, with many large audio animattronic effects such mummies, scarab beetles and a giant snake. Overall opinion was that the ride was quite good but also quite scary for little ones and Ellie was surprised that this considered a family ride. Kacee quite enjoyed it although the guns were a lot heavier than those on Buzz Lightyears Lazer Blasters in Disneyland Paris and he wasn’t really able to hole the gun or shoot very well.
Next up for Kacee and Ellie (I was feeding a screaming Macklyn) was Flying Jumbos, a kind of Dumbo rip off. This had the longest queue of the day so far with a 5 minute wait for the ride. Kacee was very impressed with this one although he kept saying “It’s elephants but not Dumbo” with a very confused look on his face which I thought was very cute. Ellie then took over the feeding while I took Kacee onto Toadie’s Crazy Cars.
I’m sorry but this has to be the worst ride I have ever been on in my entire life. I know that I have been spoilt with Disneyland Paris and that theming is the major differece between a place like Chessington World of Adventures and Disneyland Paris but this was dreadfull. There was a handfull of small plastic animals spread throughout the ride, most of which needed a good clean and a lick of paint…however the worst was to come. Just before you go through the ‘barn’ scene you drive past Badger…who only has half a face! Yes that’s correct…half of his face is missing! With a little TLC this ride could have been acceptable but for now it’s the worst ride in the park by far, this may have been reflected in the 10 minute wait while just opposite Tiny Truckers had a 40 minute wait.
This is where (for those of you who follow me on Twitter you’ll already know of this) the day was neraly spoilt. I won’t go into much detail but Kacee ended up falling into a Pond in Toytown. Chessington were quite good and bought him a hoody and a t-shirt to wear while they dried out his other clothes in a tumble dryer. They also gave us two exit passes as a way of apologising.
After this little drama we made our way over towards Hocus Pocus Hall to eat our picnic. Thankfully the weather had kept lovely and warm…right up until we sat down to eat lunch and the heavens opened. We decided that this would be a good time to ride the Bubbleworks and headed over towards Transylvania to check out the wait time. This ride was posting a 45 minute wait although judging by the grumbles of people walking past it was closer to an hour. We decided that the boy’s would really like this ride and used one of our precious exit passes to bypass the entire queue.
The Bubbleworks takes you upon a tour of a soap factory. Similar to the previous version, you can see the several stages of the production, from the initial idea to the development and experiments. The ride was previously based around an over-the-top fizzy pop factory run by the zany Professor Burp. It is now themed as a tour through a fantastical soap factory under the management of Imperial Leather. In the factory are machines such as the Rub-A-Dub Reactor and the laughing gas cylinders. You actually get quite wet on this ride and going down the drop I really had to hold onto Macklyn! I’m not really sure why this ride is such a big hit. It’s previous incarnation was much much better…it comes across as just a big advert for Imperial Leather which I guess is the point of it for them. I feel that refurbishing this back to it’s original form would be much better in terms of theming and the story.
After riding the Bubbleworks and trying to eat our lunch we headed off around the Zoo part of Chessington World of Adventures. First stop was the Trail of the Kings where you pass a variety of animals. We saw Asiatic Lions, Gorilla’s, Persian Leopards and Sumatran Tigers on this trail. Nest we checked out the Sealion Bay, unfortunatly we had missed the show but the Sealion’s were out and playing in the water, I’m fascinated by most sea creatures and could have stood here all day however Kacee wanted to go and see the Peguins which are another firm favorate of mine. After this we headed over to the Children’s Zoo where the kiddies get to pet Goats and Pigs while the walk around. Kacee loved this right up until the moment a piggie ‘oinked’ at him and scared him.
We then headed over to the Sea Life Centre at Chessington World of Adventures and explored this for a while. It looks like a temporary structure and really doesn’t fit in with the rest of the park but I have been assured that this is a permanent thing and that the Merlin Group are aiming to have a Sealife Centre at all of thier theme parks in the very near future. This was simply amazing. Kacee especially loved the Nemo and Dory fish and loved looking at the sharks in the tunnel. This honestly was the highlight of the day.
By now Kacee was really starting to tire so we decided to use our final exit pass. Kacee had been really wanting to go on the Safari Skyway and with the wait showing at around 40 minutes we decided that this would be an excellent place to use our last pass. This is a monrail around a large part of the Zoo and gives a great bird’s eye view of lots of the park along with a very cheesy commentary and very bad Australian accent. Kacee loved this and was very much wide awake when we left so we headed over to Toytown to the Ribena Berry Bouncers. This ride is rather odd in so much as you have to have an adult with you if you are under 1.1m tall however each bouncer can only take two adults but 4 children. Needless to say we got halfway through the queue and I asked the attendant if Kacee could ride alone seeing as there was already an adult on the bouncer (the last 4 had gone up half empty and we had been waiting for over 10 minutes) The CM said that this would be ok so Kacee ended up riding his first ever ride on his own (ie without either Ellie and I) I’m guessing by the fact that he was giggling from start to finish that he really liked this ride!
It was approaching 5:00pm now and with the park closing at 6:00pm I wanted to make a move shortly to avoid the traffic leaving the park. We saw that there was virtually no wait at a Ferris Wheel in the park (I’ve tried looking for the name but it doesn’t appear to exist at all!) this was a great way to end the day with a ride altogether and looking out over the park. The weather was so nice and the sky so clear that you could actually see the sights of London such as Canary Wharf, Big Ben and even the London Eye. With that there was time for a quick toilet break and to re-fill our drink cup for the way home (and the 9th time that day) and it was back home to Gillingham via McDonalds for dinner.
We had a great time at Chessington World of Adventures. It wasn’t as busy as we had thought it was going to be. The longest queue time was 45 minutes and, espcially early morning, a lot of the rides were 5-10 minutes all day long. The theming at Chessington is obviously not up to the same standards as at Disneyland Paris however I get the feeling that the park really could be a great little park with a little TLC. I think we liked this park as much as Legoland, although I’d like to go back to Legoland and tour the park properly rather than as part of a large group.