We head back to Chessington for the first time in five years to find out how the park has changed and what is there for tweens and teens.
What’s great about this park is that there is something for all ages and levels of thrill seeking including rides such as Vampire, Rattlesnake and Dragon’s Fury which are more for older children and why our kids (11 and 13) wanted to visit the park.
The girls excitement levels went through the roof as we first entered the park through the Chessington hotel guest entrance, and after checking the map to see where we needed to head to, it was all about rides, rides, rides.
Chessington hotel guests have one hour early access before the park opens to the public and on a busy bank holiday weekend it counts for a lot when it came to skipping the queues.
There are only a small selection of rides open during this first hour but we managed to ride on the Blue Barnacle, Scorpion Express and my personal favourite of our visit, the Room on the Broom 4D interactive walkthrough. This attraction like the parks other Julia Donaldson’s themed ride the Gruffalo brings her books to life in such a magical way.
One of the highlights for Chloe was to be able to ride on Vampire again in the Wild Woods area of the park.
Be prepared, this is one of the most popular rides at Chessington and as such the queue was seriously long even before the park opened to the general public. But the long wait times were quickly forgotten once we got on the ride and soared across the skies, flying through trees and over rooftops with our feet dangling below, we loved it.
With the park now open to the general public, it got noticeably busier and wait times for the most popular attractions shot up with some rides reaching 60 minute queue times. This is where we used the free Chessington App on our mobiles to our advantage to check which attractions had the shortest wait times as this fluctuates throughout the day.
With this real time info on hand we headed over to the Zufari – Ride into Africa attraction which was a little underwhelming, so don’t expect anything like a Kilimanjaro Safari experience at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
We did have good views as we drove around the site from our seats in the Zufari trucks and were lucky enough to see Giraffes, Zebra and flamingos. Unfortunately we didn’t manage to see the Rhinos who decided to stay in their enclosure, but having the opportunity to get so close to the Giraffes was great.
The appeal of Chessington is the amount of rides on offer, 40 in total spread across 10 themed lands. The girls managed to ride all of the rides on their list including the latest addition to the park, Croc Drop along with Monkey Swinger, Kobra and all of the coasters, although for we had to purchase a reserve and ride to make the wait times more manageable.
I also managed to coax them on some of the family friendly rides which they loved when they were younger such as Griffin’s Galleon, Flying Jumbos which brought back great memories of the Dumbo ride at Disney and another of my personal favourites Gruffalo River Ride adventure – although we got a little wet on this one!
Food and drink options are pretty good at Chessington with a good selection of eateries from high street fast food chain Tortilla to themed restaurants. When Chloe was having another ride on Blue Barnacle, we stopped off Captain’s Fish and Chips for Holly which was good quality and value for a theme park before heading to the Pizza Pasta buffet restaurant with Chloe trying the choice of pizzas and pasta on offer.
What’s great about a visit to Chessington is that it offers so much more than a just being a theme park, it’s also a good zoo complete with its own SEALIFE centre plus a family friendly petting zoo.
We were impressed and surprised at just how good the zoo was at Chessington. The enclosures were spacious with lots of glass areas providing multiple viewing points to observe the tigers, gorillas, lions, ocelots, penguins, sea lions and many other animals.
We ran out of time on this visit to go to the Sea Life centre but the children’s petting zoo was great fun. The girls could walk amongst and smooth some of the animals such as goats, sheep and Kuneknue pigs. It was a lovely experience and perfect for our youngest who loves animals.
With so much to see and do you could easily fill two days at Chessington, it really is an excellent place for families to visit as there is something for all ages.
The girls are already asking when they can go back as it’s one of the favourite theme parks.