I remember visiting Chessington World of Adventure when I was a kid, riding Vampire with my dad when it was probably one of the few “white knuckle” rides in the Park. The park also had a small zoo and a circus! Nowadays, Chessington is a resort and boasts a hotel, a variety of rides for all ages, as well as a Zufari and their very own Sealife Centre!
This week, we were invited to Chessington for the day to celebrate the beginning of Half Term as well as the opening of their new ride for 2021; Croc Drop.
This was the first time that T had visited a proper theme park, so we were excited to see how he would take it.
Arrival & Visitor Safety
Just like any day trip, we decided to arrive just before opening as we knew there would not only be a lot of queuing, but before you even enter the park there would be temperature checks as well as bag checks.
Thankfully, the weather was forecast to be remarkably pleasant that day – which was a nice change to the previous few weeks – so we were ready! In no time, though, the queue was moving and within 30/40 minutes we were through the gates and checking out the map.
Before we got to Chessington, Sharon had downloaded the dedicated Chessington App. This meant we could not only plan ahead and around queue times, but we could find our way around the park a lot easier. We could also plan meals and toilet stops, as well as make sure we didn’t miss out on anything we wanted to do. It was also useful in finding out what rides T could go on, by taking advantage of their filter.
T is 1.2m so could go on most of the rides with us, and some rides he even got to do himself.
Aside from the changes that have naturally happened since I last visited Chessington World of Adventure, there’s also additional safety measures currently in place due to COVID. This includes:
- Anti-bacterial Hand Gel dispensers.
- Located at ride entry points & queuing areas, and within restaurants and toilets.
- Socially distanced queues & ride seating.
- Regular cleaning in between ride times.
- Restricted capacity within the resort.
- Pre-booking required.
- Cash-free payments.
- NHS Track & Trace sign in.
- Masks and face coverings are requested within indoor rides.
This being said, the only criticism we had with this was that there wasn’t often staff keeping track of social distancing within the queues. On a very rare occasion we had to spread ourselves out as a group to make sure people weren’t getting too close – especially in the indoor area of a queue.
Queueing is expected, despite having less numbers in the resort, so do plan for this! On some rides, the social distancing worked though, and queues moved quite quickly because there were larger gaps being moved along, but because rides were also being spaced out, this didn’t help with clearing the queue and so it felt pretty much the same as pre-COVID.
Sadly, you will also still get the same issue with queue-jumping, but we only personally experienced this once during our time there, but it was dealt with brilliantly by staff.
Our Day Out
Making our way to the back of the resort where the more popular rides are located is handy tip I will live by. It not only means you get to experience the best rides at the start of your day, you can then make your way “home” by working your way back.
Our first visit was their new ride for 2021; Croc Drop, a plungle-style ride that drops you 25m into the jaws of a gigantic Croc. This was probably T’s peak as he was so nervous about going on, but he did it and when we exited the ride he was glad he did it (although didn’t want to do it again!)
Throughout the rest of the day we went on all the classics, from the The Scorpion Express (which was simply the Runaway Train back in MY day) to the River Rafts, The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure (which was Professor Bubbleworks previously (RIP)) to Sea Storm.
There were a few we decided not to go on at all, such as Vampire , Dragon’s Fury, and Rattlesnake, which was a shame, but T wasn’t up for them (yet) and we made a rule that we’d all go on together if we were doing this. Not only that, by the time we reached some of the bigger rides (Kobra is another example) the queues were a lot longer and we weren’t prepared to wait whilst someone else was on the ride. Maybe next time!
Not just rides!
Nevertheless, there was still lots to do when we weren’t going on rides. At Chessington World of Adventure is also their own dedicated Sea Life Centre and a number of “experiences” (for example, Room on the Broom), as well as a variety of talks and shows. Before lunch, and in an attempt to have a brief rest, we caught a feeding talk at the Sea Lion enclosure which was a nice break from the excitement of all the rides. Whilst we were in the area, we then took a walk around the other enclosures, such as a the penguin pool.
Whilst we were in ‘Animal Mode’ we also wanted to see what they’d done with the space where the zoo was and it did not disappoint! As well as Chessington Zoo; where you can witness over 1,000 different animals and creatures, Zufari is a new (for us anyway) Safari adventure where you travel off-road and go face to face with an array of amazing African animals such as White Rhino, Giraffe and Zebra. What’s more is that the route is right next to where the hotel is located, which is absolutely stunning with the backdrop of antelope. It honestly didn’t look like we were in the UK anymore.
By the time we finished exploring the zoo area, the weather was glorious, but T was starting to get tired. With this, we saw that there was a nice park area for us to relax in and for T do something a little bit different.
Although he was tired, this change in activity gave him a new burst of energy. That being said, it was still coming to the end of the day, so we started to make our way back to the car park – but not before squeezing on two more rides and visiting the gift shop!
A Great Day Out!
Although it was a little out of our comfort zone – Chessington World of Adventure will always be a place with a crowd, and restrictions were still in place – we had a brilliant day out and glad we went when we did. We’re already planning our next visit for the summer, but this time we’re going to aim for a stay at the hotel so we can make the most out of our visit. There were definitely rides and locations we didn’t get to explore fully!
Even with certain restrictions, everything was clean and tidy and there was always somewhere to sit and take a breather. There was plenty of places to grab a bite to eat, and all in all the queues weren’t that bad considering the circumstances. We always managed to find things to talk about and do, and because there were activities outside of the realm of rides it broke up the day nicely. Things like the zoo, for example, showed T that it wasn’t going to be a day of standing around and waiting, which was sometimes hard to explain when there was a delay.
When you’re comfortable, I would definitely consider giving Chessington a visit. We were surprised by how many rides T could go on at his age / height. It was a great way to introduce him to “bigger” rides. I wouldn’t go as far as to say he’s a thrill seeker, but he’s getting there and had a great time.
We were invited to Chessington World of Adventure and given complimentary tickets for the day in exchange for promotion on Instagram, however all thoughts, opinion and imagery are our own.