Being able to experience the world’s first Gruffalo ride, based on the bestselling children’s book by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler was an opportunity the girls would not leave us miss.

When the girls found out that one of their favourite books had been brought to life at Chessington, we were all so excited once we had booked our visit.

As we were staying on site at the Chessington Safari Hotel in one of their brand new Gruffalo themed rooms, we were given a special wrist band to wear allowing 1 hour early access to the park and also Explorer Fastrack tickets that are included with all Gruffalo rooms.

One of the main benefits of staying at one of the on-site Chessington hotels is that the park is so quiet during the early ride time for hotel guests. When we arrived at the new Gruffalo ride there was no line to wait in (which is typically over an hour when the park opens to the public) and excitedly we made our way to the start of the ride.

You start your Gruffalo River Ride Adventure by having your photo taken against a green screen, where you are super imposed onto a Gruffalo scene.  You can purchase this photo at the end of your adventure.

Turning the corner into the ‘Wild Wood’ where the ceiling was covered in foliage, my youngest daughter was so excited as she spotted the Gruffalo sign as we crossed the bridge over the stream.

With the background music from the Gruffalo animated film playing in the background, we waited to board the round wooden boats.  The theming is so well done you really do feel you have been transported into the pages of the book.

Setting sail beneath the Gruffalo sign on our magical riverboat journey, the look on the girl’s faces was worth the entry to the park alone.  We followed mouse from the book as our little boat twisting and turning travelled through each scene of the book starting in the deep, dark woods.

It was so atmospheric featuring all of the characters from the story starting in the meadows complete with sparkling dandelions and the fresh smell of flowers beside Fox’s lair.

As our journey continued we came across owl and the snake before coming face to face with the giant Gruffalo!

The ride ends with a splash down a little waterfall, before you sail through fountains so you will get a little wet which the girls thought was brilliant.   The sight of the Gruffalo scares fox, owl and snake back to their homes

You exit the ride via a clever projection of Gruffalo Crumble, before the the Gruffalo runs away from mouse leaving him to enjoy his nut.  This section was one of the girl’s favourite parts of the ride.

The clever use of animatronics, lighting, narration of the story, sound effects and projections make this multi-sensory ride through the deep, dark wood believable and captivating not only for the children but for us adults too.

If you have the opportunity to ride the Gruffalo River Ride Adventure more than once I would really recommend it as there is so much to see and experience, each ride offers a different experience.

Because of the early ride time benefit for hotel guests we were able to ride the Gruffalo River Ride Adventure four times with no wait (and this was during the Easter holidays) before the park opened to the public.

This is why it is definitely worth staying at one of the Chessington Safari or Azteca hotels as the ride wait time once the park opens can usually top 60 minutes.  At 10am I could not believe the difference in crowd levels for this ride.

On top of this using our Explorer Fastrack we managed another trip around the Deep, Dark Woods before we headed home, much to the delight to the girls.

On exit through the fabulous Gruffalo gift shop we couldn’t help but buy a Mouse and Gruffalo toy for the girls.


We have been lucky enough to experience rides from theme parks all across the world but the girls said that the new Gruffalo River Ride Adventure was one of their favourite rides they have been on.

It really is such a beautiful ride that brings the world of the Gruffalo to life, even if your children are not Gruffalo fans they will be after they have been on this ride at Chessington.

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