Chessington World of Adventures facts for kids
|Slogan||Britain's Wildest Adventure!|
|Location||Leatherhead Road, Chessington KT9 2NE, Greater London, England|
|General manager||Tim Harrison-Jones
7 July 1987 (as theme park)
|Previous names||Chessington Zoo, Chessington World of Adventures & Zoo|
|Operating season||Theme Park:
|Visitors per annum||1.69 million (2019)|
Sea Life Centre
Chessington World of Adventures Resort is a theme park, zoo and hotel complex in Chessington, Greater London, England, around 12 miles (19 km) southwest of Central London. The complex opened as Chessington Zoo in 1931, with the theme park being developed alongside the zoo by The Tussauds Group and opening on 7 July 1987, as one of the first themed amusement parks in Britain. The theme park, which features over 40 rides, is now owned by Merlin Entertainments, following its merger with The Tussauds Group in 2007. Under Merlin, Chessington has been increasingly developed into a resort tourist destination, including two on-site hotels, a high ropes course and camp site.
Chessington Zoo has over 1,000 animals, including western lowland gorillas, sea lions, and Sumatran tigers. It is split up into several areas: Trail of the Kings, Sealion Bay, Children's Zoo, Amazu, Penguin Bay and the Wanyama Village and Reserve as well as a Sea Life Centre.
Chessington World of Adventures theme park consists of themed areas loosely styled on a range of world cultures. Adventure Point is an English Market Square, Mexicana borrows from the Wild West, Pirates' Cove a smuggling port, Wild Woods a European street with Bavarian architecture, Forbidden Kingdom mirrors Egypt and Arabia, while Land of the Tiger reflects the orient, and Wild Asia an Indian jungle. Major attractions include: Vampire, Dragon's Fury, KOBRA, Tiger Rock, Scorpion Express, Zufari: Ride into Africa!, The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure and Croc Drop.
- Rides and attractions
- Theme park
- 2014 court case
- Green belt restrictions
The mansion at Chessington World of Adventures Resort known today as the Burnt Stub was originally built in 1348, in Chessington, Surrey. In the English Civil War it became a royalist stronghold, and Oliver Cromwell's Parliamentary forces razed it to the ground. The Burnt Stub site was rebuilt as an inn, until the 18th century, when the Vere Barker family rebuilt it in neo-gothic Victorian style.
Founding of zoo
The resort has its roots in the Chessington Zoo, which opened in 1931; it was started by Reginald Stuart Goddard, who had bought the estate to showcase his private collection of animals. It was once the largest private zoo in England. After Goddard died in 1946, the Pearson Publishing Company took over the zoo and managed it until 1978, when The Tussauds Group, a subsidiary of the Pearson Group, took control.
Founding of theme park
In 1984, due to the zoo's declining attendance, Tussauds's commissioned John Wardley to come up with plans to revitalize the park. Wardley had a huge influence on the rides being created at both Chessington and its sister parks Thorpe Park and Alton Towers. The decision was made to open a theme park to complement the zoo, and so Chessington World of Adventures was born. On 7 July 1987 Chessington World of Adventures opened to the public in a ceremony including HRH Prince Edward. The park was built on a relatively small budget of around £12 million, to test the still-emerging theme park market.
In its first year, the park opened with the roller coaster Runaway Mine Train, the log flume Dragon River, the monorail Safari Skyway, the dark ride The 5th Dimension, and the Chessington Railroad as the main attractions (all supplied by the German ride manufacturer Heinrich Mack GmbH & Co). Smuggler's Galleon (a swinging ride) reached heights of 20 meters; it was later renamed Black Buccaneer.
The new park development adopted a pay-once price structure as opposed to the fairground's former pay-per-ride format. Other support rides were also opened and the park opened five themed areas: Calamity Canyon, Mystic East, Market Square, Toy Town and Circus World.
The 1990 season expanded Chessington with the opening of the Transylvania area, featuring The Vampire and Prof. Burp's Bubble Works. Both of these major rides had a significant impact on the park's popularity. By this time Smugglers' Galleon and the Smugglers' Cove area had been created, both opening it is a fact that vampire is the only suspended roller coaster still operating outside of America
The 1995 season arrived with Rameses Revenge, the park's first inverting ride. Rameses Revenge was new in the Forbidden Kingdom area; an area which had opened the previous year in conjunction with the Terror Tomb dark ride. Also new for 1995 was Seastorm in Pirates' Cove, and the Carousel, located next to the explorer gate. In 1999, Chessington opened the hardcore thrill ride Samurai in the Mystic East. 1999 also saw the rename of Calamity Canyon into Mexicana, following the opening of Rattlesnake the year before. 2000 saw Beanoland open on the former site of Circus World, (Even though it was planned for colossus (From Thorpe park) To be consturcted here instead, Until it was decided to build it at Thorpe park instead.) Benoland opened bringing two new rides to the park: Billy's Whizzer and Rodger the Dodger's Dodgems.
During the last two weeks of the theme park season, Chessington hosts its biggest event - Howl'o'ween, previously known as Halloween Hocus Pocus. During the event the park is decorated for halloween with spiders, grave stones, voodoo dolls, skeletons and cobwebs as well as large, coloured eyes. Some actors also roam the theme park and zoo dressed as witches, vampires and zombies. During the event, halloween themed attractions open, rides also operate in the dark.
- Ice Age - In August 2009 Chessington held an event to celebrate the release of Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. The park opened a temporary maze outside Beanoland for the event.
- Vampire XXI - In April 2011 Chessington opened a temporary maze in the area outside the Vampire roller coaster to celebrate its 21st birthday. The event was free and ran for two weeks.
- Mystic East Carnival - The Mystic East Carnival was a display of arts from the orient shown in Market Square and Mystic East. The event was held in May for a number of weeks.
- 25th Birthday Celebration - During July 2012, the resort had 25 days of fun to celebrate the theme park's 25th anniversary.
- African Adventures - The February half term event for many years up until 2015, this event saw African tribal dancers and street explorers can be found roaming and interacting with guests, as well as African artwork and creative activities dotted around the park.
- Animal Adventures - A weeklong celebration held during the February half term of 2016 to celebrate 85 years of the Zoo being at Chessington. Many animal talks and events went on to celebrate all Animal life at Chessington. This was a one off event, however, it was adapted for a more general event under the same name from 2017.
- Moshi Monsters - From 25 July -18 August 2012, the Moshi Monsters visited Chessington. The characters could be met, and there were challenges around the park which if completed could win Moshi Monster lanyards, in-game 1,000 rox codes and seeds. Each Moshling was looking after a secret symbol, collect all eight to unlock the code word and reveal a new Moshling online. You could also have had the chance to win lots of 'goopendous' Moshi prizes and giveaways.
Rides and attractions
|Dragon's Fury||Steel spinning coaster||2004||Land Of The Dragons||Maurer Söhne||Family spinning rollercoaster. 1771 ft long track (540m); Xtended CS 3000 model.|
|Rattlesnake||Steel wild mouse||1998||Mexicana||Maurer Söhne||Wild mouse (car 2+2) that reaches a speed of 28 mph (45 km) on a 1213 ft long track (370 m) and a height of 49 ft (15 m).|
|Scorpion Express||Steel sit down coaster||1987||Mexicana||Mack Rides||Blauer Enzian model. Opened in 1987, as Runaway Train. Family rollercoaster themed around an abandoned mining town that has been taken over by scorpions. Themed as an old gold mine, the ride features a large animated metal scorpion that sprays water at riders as they pass. In the centre of the ride is an oil derrick with flame effect.|
|Vampire||Suspended floorless coaster||1990||Wild Woods||Arrow Dynamics / Vekoma||Originally an Arrow suspended swinging coaster, but refurbished with floorless Vekoma trains in 2002. Reaches a speed of 45 mph (73 km) on a 2200 ft long track (670 m);|
|KOBRA||Disk'O Coaster||2010||Wild Asia||Zamperla||Riders sit in a motorcycle-like position in outward-facing seats at the edge of the circular ride platform.|
|Monkey Swinger||Wave swinger||2000||Wild Asia||Zierer||A monkey-themed wave swinger ride with a water element. Originally opened as Billy's Whizzer. but was rethemed in 2010, alongside the surrounding area to Wild Asia.|
|Seastorm||Sea Storm||1995||Pirates’ Cove||Mack Rides||A Mack SeaStorm ride. Riders sit in a boat that rises up and down, simulating a sea storm. As the platform spins, the boat also slowly spins on its own axis.|
|Blue Barnacle||Swinging ship||2021||Pirates’ Cove||Metallbau Emmeln||A replacement swinging pirate ship for the now defunct Black Buccaneer. Opened Spring 2021. Has 10 rows, seating a total of 42 passengers per ride.|
|Croc Drop||Drop tower||2021||Forbidden Kingdom||SBF Visa Group||A family drop tower replacing the now closed Rameses Revenge. The ride is themed around the Egyptian crocodile God called Sobek.|
|The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure||Dark ride||1990||Wild Woods||Merlin Magic Making / Leisuretec||Rethemed to The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure in 2017, the attraction is a slow-moving boat water ride based on The Gruffalo series of children's books. Guests follow Mouse into the woods, meeting some other Gruffalo characters along the way. Replaced the Bubbleworks.|
|Tomb Blaster||Dark ride||1987||Forbidden Kingdom||Tussauds Studios / Mack Rides||Rethemed to Tomb Blaster in 2002, the dark ride is themed around destroying an ancient curse, where riders shoot laser guns at targets for points, which are displayed on the cart. Originally opened as The Fifth Dimension, then Terror Tomb and finally Forbidden Tomb.|
|Tiger Rock||Flume ride||1987||Land Of The Tiger||Mack Rides||Rethemed to Tiger Rock in 2018, the log flume features two drops, one into a tunnel and one through a tiger mouth. The ride is oriental themed, originally named Dragon River, and opened with the original theme park development in 1987.|
|River Rafts||N/A||Flume ride||2020||The Rainforest||ABC Engineering||A mini log flume ride around the Rainforest area. Designed with younger children in mind as a good alternative for those too small to ride the park’s main, much larger log flume, Tiger Rock. The ride was originally located at Weymouth Sealife.|
|Room on the Broom — A Magical Journey||House of mirrors||2003||Adventure Point||Merlin Magic Making||A walkaround attraction based on the children's book by Julia Donaldson. Visitors to the walk-in mansion under 1.1 meter must be accompanied by an adult. Originally opened as Hocus Pocus Hall in 2003.|
|Tuk Tuk Turmoil||Bumper cars||2000||Wild Asia||Preston & Barbieri||Family bumper cars themed to resemble tuk-tuks, which are auto rickshaws from Southeast Asia. Originally Roger the Dodger's Dodgems until 2010.|
|Zufari: Ride into Africa!||Guided safari||2013||Wanyama||Merlin Magic Making||An off-road safari truck tour that takes riders into the plains of Zufari. Increased annual park attendance by 15.4%.|
|Canopy Capers||Tree house||2004||Land Of The Dragons||Tussauds Studios||Children's tree house climbing attraction that interlocks with Dragon's Fury|
|Dragon's Playhouse||Playhouse||2004||Land Of The Dragons||Tussauds Studios||Soft play area, height limit 1.4m max.|
|Griffin's Galleon||Rockin' Tug||2004||Land Of The Dragons||Zierer||Small spinning pirate ship for children, the thrill ride has a track length of about fifty feet, and 21 feet of height.|
|Sea Dragons||Spinning ride||2004||Land Of The Dragons||Mack Rides||Small children's boat ride.|
|The Chessington Adventure Tree||N/A||Carousel||2017||Adventure Point||Bertazzon||A themed carousel.|
|Elmer’s Flying Jumbos||Mini Jet Red Baron||1987||Adventure Point||Preston & Barbieri||A spinning children's ride in which riders control how high they go, with elephant-themed cabs. Rethemed and moved as Elmer’s Flying Jumbos for 2020.|
|Tiny Truckers||Convoy ride||1994||Adventure Point||Zamperla||Small driving attraction that usually makes two laps of its course.|
|Jungle Bus||Crazy bus||2001||Wild Asia||Zamperla||Zamperla magic carpet-style ride. Originally opened as the Bash Street Bus.|
|Temple of Mayhem||Playhouse||2002||Wild Asia||Merlin Entertainments Studios||Play area with three floors, guests fire foam balls at one another. Height limit 1.4m max. Originally opened as Dennis's Madhouse.|
|Treetop Hoppers||Mini drop tower||2001||The Rainforest||Zamperla||Junior drop towers for younger children. Previously known as Berry Bouncers, "Jungle Bouncers" and Penguins of Madagascar Mission: Treetop Hoppers. Located in The New Area for 2020 The Rainforest.|
|Jungle Rangers||Convoy ride||2020||The Rainforest||Garmendale||Driving attraction. All ages, children under 1.1 meters must be accompanied by an adult. Replaced Toadies Crazy Cars which closed in 2019.|
|Amazu Treetop Adventure||Tree house||2014||Amazu||Merlin Entertainments Studios||Climbing frame with incorporated animals. No maximum height limit.|
Many of the rides and areas at the park have been either re-themed over the years, while others have moved to other theme parks and been replaced.
- The Fun City Show tent, housing circus/stunt entertainment, was demolished in 1999 to make way for Beanoland to open the next season.
- Beanoland was an area themed around The Beano comic. It opened in 2000 and closed in 2009, featuring Billy's Whizzer, Dennis' Madhouse, Roger the Dodger's Dodgems and Bash Street Bus. The area was rethemed into Wild Asia in 2010 with all rides intact and the addition of KOBRA to the area.
- Runaway Train was a mine train themed powered roller coaster in the Mexicana area. Opened in 1987, and closed at the end of 2012. Re-themed to Scorpion Express.
- Action Man Training HQ (also called Action Man Critical Mission) was a large children's adventure playground-type attraction, opened in 1997 and closed in 2005.
- Magic Carpet was located in the Mystic East area, opening in 1988 and closed at the end of the 1998 season. Samurai (see below) was installed in its place.
- Samurai was a Mondial Top Scan installed in 1999 and closed in 2003 in Mystic East, then relocated to sister park Thorpe Park.
- Chessington Zoo Railway (Error: gauge specification "12in" not known miniature gauge) closed in 1985 before the theme park had been constructed.
- Chessington Railroad (2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge) left at the end of 1996. Although still a popular attraction, the fact that long stretches of the route were on open pathways meant it was considered a safety risk and it was removed.
- Rodeo (originally named The Juggler and located in Circus World between 1989 and 1994) was a Huss breakdance ride that closed at the end of the 2004 season. It remained closed until being removed altogether in 2007. The ride's centerpiece of a cowboy on horseback was repurposed as a prop in Vampire.
- Toytown Roundabout was also removed at the end of 1999. The more traditional carousel, which had been open since 1996 close to the park's north entrance, took its place.
- Clown Coaster, formerly Toy Town Coaster, was a very small children's roller coaster. It was removed to make way for the new Berry Bouncers ride which took its place in 2001.
- Prof. Burp's Bubble Works was a famed water dark ride in the Transylvania area, opened in 1990 and closed in 2005. It took riders on a tour of a highly animated fizzy pop factory, featuring a unique fountain finale ending. The original version was produced by Keith Sparks and John Wardley.
- Imperial Leather Bubbleworks was a dark water ride opened in 2006, succeeding the original Prof. Burp's Bubble Works. It took rides through a 'soap factory', with most its scenes heavily modified from the original attraction and now sponsored by Imperial Leather. The ride closed in September 2016 to make way for The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure.
- The Fifth Dimension was a dark ride that opened in 1987 and closed in 1993, based around the story of a TV repair robot named Zappomatic and his quest to defeat the computer-created monster, the Gorg. Replaced by Terror Tomb.
- Terror Tomb (later renamed Forbidden Tomb) was a dark ride opened in 1994, replacing The Fifth Dimension. It told the story of a tomb robber named Abdab and the various dangers he encountered as he attempted to steal a precious emerald from within the tomb. It was succeeded by Tomb Blaster in 2001. Several of the original sets remain in Tomb Blaster, but with significant alterations.
- Vampire: The Haunting in the Hallows, also known as the Black Forest from 2009 to 2013, was a walk through attraction only open during Halloween. It took place in the graveyard leading to Vampire.
- The Mystery of Hocus Pocus Hall was a walk through attraction only open during Halloween, and took place in what would normally be Hocus Pocus Hall during normal season. It followed the storyline of the park mascot, Sir Arthur Stubbs. The soundtrack of the attraction was played parkwide from 2013, until it was scrapped for 2015. The soundtrack is now used park-wide for the ‘Howl-o-ween’ event.
- Madagascar Live! Prepare to Party was a 20-minute live stage show featuring characters from the Madagascar film franchise. It was located it the Africa area and ran from March 2012 until late 2014. It was replaced by Penguins of Madagascar Live: Operation Cheezy Dibbles in 2015 as part of 'The Year of the Penguins'.
- Safari Skyway was a historic monorail attraction that provided guests a guided overhead tour of Chessington Zoo and the Burnt Stub mansion area. Originally opening before the theme park in 1986, the ride almost lasted thirty years before closing abruptly in July 2015 due to ongoing maintenance issues.
- Carousel was a classic carousel ride located in Market Square. It opened in 1996 and closed in 2016. A new carousel was built for 2017 to serve as a spiritual successor to the original carousel. It was named The Chessington Adventure Tree.
- Penguins of Madagascar Live: Operation Cheezy Dibbles was a live show in Africa. It opened in 2015 as part of Chessington's Year of the Penguins and closed at the end of the 2016 season. It was replaced by The Gruffalo Arena in 2017.
- Peeking Heights was a Ferris wheel originally located at Thorpe Park. It was relocated to make way for Rush and opened at Chessington in 2005 and closed on 10 September 2017 in order to make way for new tiger enclosures as part of the retheme of Mystic East to Land of the Tiger for 2018.
- Hocus Pocus Hall was a walkthrough attraction located in the Burnt Stub Mansion which opened in 2003 but closed in 2018 to be replaced by Room on the Broom: A Magical Journey.
- Toadies Crazy Cars was a kids track ride located within the Africa section of the park. The ride opened as Old Crooks Railroad in 1987 and was rethemed to Toadies Crazy Cars for 2001. The attraction closed in 2019, to make way for The Rainforest. The ride was replaced by the far superior Jungle Rangers, which follows a similar layout.
- Rameses Revenge was a Top Spin ride which opened in June 1995 in the Forbidden Kingdom area. Manufactured by Huss Rides, it was the world's first top spin ride to feature a drown-upside-down element. Chessington announced that it was to be removed in 2019. Before it was removed, it was the only remaining top-spin in the UK. The ride was replaced with a drop tower named Croc Drop.
- Black Buccaneer was a Swinging ship ride which originally opened as Smugglers Galleon in 1988 in the Smugglers' Cove area. Manufactured by Huss Rides, the ride was rethemed to Black Buccaneer in 1999 alongside the surrounding area to Pirates’ Cove. The ride operated for the final time at the end of 2018 during the Winters Tail event. Chessington later announced on their social media that a new replacement ship was to be installed called Blue Barnacle. This new ship is thought to be entirely new ride hardware rather than the old ship simply rethemed.
Chessington World of Adventures opened on 6 July 1987. Its main ethos centers around the idea of bringing together a collection of the different cultures and experiences from around the world; a considerable amount of the park is built on the stereotypical setting of each area it is focused on. Major attractions include: Vampire, Dragon's Fury, KOBRA, Zufari: Ride into Africa, Scorpion Express & Croc Drop. Shows include Wild Factor and Pandamonium, which is seasonal only showing in the summer from 2017 onwards.
The theme park comprises ten themed lands, each with a cultural setting. The central area of the park, Adventure Point, resembles an old English market town, whereas Mystic East is themed around the orient, with the water ride Dragon Falls opening there in 1987. Mexicana is inspired by a small town in America's old far-west. Pirates' Cove is a mock up of a Cornish cove. Wild Woods is modeled on a central European high street with Bavaria in Germany and the Transylvania region of Romania as its key influences. Forbidden Kingdom is based on Ancient Egypt with hieroglyphics carved onto its surroundings. Land of the Dragons is the only "fantasy" themed area of the theme park and is a self-contained dragon-themed land with rides mostly for young children.
Among the newer lands is Wild Asia which opened in 2010 as a replacement for Beanoland with an Indian jungle theme. In 2017, the existing Transylvania area was renamed "Wild Woods" in conjunction with the opening of The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure. In 2018, Mystic East was renamed "Land of the Tiger", with the addition of new tiger enclosures and the partial refurbishment of Dragon Falls as Tiger Rock.
- Timeline of Park Areas
|Market Square||Adventure Point|
|Mystic East||Land of the Tiger|
|Circus World||Beanoland||Wild Asia|
|Smugglers' Cove||Pirates' Cove|
|Land of the Dragons|
Adventure Point is the central area of the park, it features a selection of shops, restaurants, smaller outlets including hotdog and doughnut units and guest services, as well as the Chessington Adventure Tree carousel, which was added in 2017 The area has mostly Tudor and early Georgian architecture, featuring details such as hanging baskets and boxed plants. Rides include Tiny Truckers and Elmer’s Flying Jumbos'. In the centre of Adventure Point is a large compass feature in the ground. The compass points guests in the direction of all the resort locations, it includes: theme park lands, some zoo areas, the Sea Life centre and the hotels. The area was named 'Market Square' until 2017.
Themed as a Mexican- inspired square and a Far West town in the American's Old West, the Mexicana area was named 'Calamity Canyon' until 1999. Rattlesnake, a steel sit-down Wild Mouse roller coaster, opened in 1998. Scorpion Express is a mine train themed roller coaster, previously named the Runaway Train from its opening in 1987. The ride was originally designed with an interacting cave feature and an extensively designed queueline above the surrounding buildings, around a lake and down into an underground mine, since a redesign in 2014 the ride has been changed to be completely in the open with new theming and is renamed 'Scorpion Express'.
Pirates' Cove is an area adjacent to Adventure Point, originally themed to a Cornish fishing village. Rides include the Black Buccaneer, a swinging pirate ship that is painted black (hence the name) that opened in 1988 with the name Smugglers Galleon, however, Chessington confirmed on social media that the ride will be replaced by a similar ride called Blue Barnacle for the 2021 season. Seastorm is a circular family boat ride that simulates a sea storm.
Land of the Tiger
Until the end of the 2017 season named "Mystic East", this is an oriental-themed area built around the Tiger Rock log flume (previously Dragon River).
In July 2017, Chessington filed for planning permission to partially redesign the area to include new tiger enclosures, including walkways over guests' heads, and a new themed feature for the log flume, to be renamed Tiger Rock. The park's ferris wheel Peeking Heights was demolished to make way for the tiger enclosures. The area closed for redevelopment on 10 September 2017, reopened in 2018. The ride has two drops, one with a rock tunnel, the other going through a tiger rock mouth. The area has been re-decorated and re-designed, with a new entrance by Land of the Dragons and Wild Asia.
The area, originally named 'Transylvania', was created in 1990, modeled on a mock Barvarian town street, with tall European Architecture. It opened with two major attractions, The Vampire and Prof. Burp's BubbleWorks. Vampire is a steel suspended floorless coaster. The original Arrow Dynamics trains were replaced with Vekoma trains during a closed season in 2001, reopening in 2002. Prof. Burp's BubbleWorks was a dark water ride that took guests through an animated fizzy pop factory. For 2006, it was rethemed to an Imperial Leather toiletries factory. Bubbleworks closed on 6 September 2016 and was replaced by The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure in March 2017.
The area was created as a quaint, 'Central-European' town square to one side, where the entrance to Prof. Burp's BubbleWorks, shops and eateries were located amongst the town buildings, then a path set back from the town leads to the castle entrance of The Vampire. After the park's various changes of management, the area was repeatedly changed in a piecemeal fashion to more of a haunted Halloween style, though most of the fascia remains under various repaints and alterations. Vampire's entrance was moved to an unthemed metal archway in 2001 and the original BubbleWorks entrance recycled as a 'Fastrack' queue in recent years.
In 2017, the park renamed Transylvania to "Wild Woods", in relation to the Gruffalo River Ride Adventure attraction opening that year, though the area itself was largely unchanged.
An Ancient Egyptian area, Forbidden Kingdom was created in 1994 originally opening with the Terror Tomb dark ride. Currently, it only locates two rides; Tomb Blaster. Opening in 2002 Tomb Blaster is a dark ride shoot out game where riders shoot laser guns at targets and is a retheme of the 'Terror Tomb' dark ride. One side of Forbidden Kingdom is architecturally designed as an Arabic market town, while Tomb Blaster is set in an Ancient Egyptian courtyard tomb area, though much detail has been removed throughout the area over the years.
The second attraction located in Forbidden Kingdom is a brand new family drop tower ‘Croc Drop’. Opening in replacement of Rameses Revenge in March 2021, the attraction will be themed around the Egyptian god Sobek.
Land of the Dragons
Land of the Dragons is the park's main children's area. Opening in 2004, it is a self-contained, dragon-themed land containing rides and attractions designed to appeal to very young children. It is the only area of the park not themed to a time or place from world culture. There are two play areas in the land: Dragon's Playhouse, a large soft play area, and adjacent to this is Canopy Capers, an outdoor treehouse rope bridge attraction. Griffin's Galleon is a Kontiki rock'n'tug ride and Sea Dragons is a spinning boat ride.
The Dragon's Tale Theater has daily performances of the Wild Factor show and Sir Walter Squirtalot is a fountain that squirts water. Aside from the children's attractions, Dragon's Fury is an intense spinning roller coaster encompassing the area with its layout.
Wild Asia, opened in early 2010 as a loosely Indian-themed jungle area, with temple ruins and ancient statues the area is a retheme of the old 'Beanoland' area themed to the Beano children's comic books. The attraction Lorikeet Lagoon opened with the area in 2010 as part of Chessington's plan to add zoo enclosures within the theme park, visitors may feed the lorikeets nectar. The area has a number of thrill rides, including KOBRA, a Zamperla flat ride that opened in 2010, Monkey Swinger a wave swinger with a water element that opened in 2000, Jungle Bus a small Zamperla magic carpet ride themed around tours of the jungle. The area is also home to the Tuk Tuk Turmoil bumper cars, which are themed as Asian rickshaw tuk tuks. The last attraction in the area is Temple of Mayhem, an indoor play area where children can fire foam balls, with a minimum age limit of 4 years.
The Rainforest is a small area aimed at families. Its architecture is recycled from the previous "Toytown" theme, with the original caricatured buildings redressed as African huts. Its previous name "Africa" has been home of the Madagascar franchise since opening in 2012. In 2020 it was refurbished as The Rainforest with a new mini log flume, River Rafts, relocated from Weymouth Sea Life Centre.
Wanyama is Chessington's African area in the form of a large animal reserve. It has ZUFARI - Ride into Africa! as the key attraction, a safari truck adventure through an undiscovered area of Africa. Making up part of the ZUFARI landscape is the Wanayama Village and Reserve, an African themed area of the zoo. The ZUFARI field and Wanyama Reserve are used as a backdrop to the Safari Hotel. ZUFARI's total size is 22 acres and has flamingos, giraffe, ostrich, Nile lechwe, white rhino, Grevy's zebra, scimitar horned oryx and sitatungas.
The operating season
The operating season usually starts around the 20th of March all the way to the start of November. Chessington usually opens around Christmas holidays and the February half terms for certain events, which include opening up some selective rides for those events/>
Along the pathways of Zufari are various African-style paintings on fences. In the centre of the Wanyama section of ZUFARI is a large faux-stone carving of a lion. A winding waterfall runs along its side.
In 1931, Reginald Goddard opened the Chessington Zoo. In 1946 when Goddard died, the Pearson Publishing Company took over the zoo and managed it until 1978, when The Tussauds Group took control of the park. A number of animals were moved to other zoos during the construction of the theme park. In 1990 the polar bears left the park, as did the hippos and elephants in 1993. In 1994 the snow leopards were relocated to the lion and tiger area. For a time the attraction was called Animal Land, before returning to Chessington Zoo in 2007.
The zoo is generally open simultaneously with the theme park, but also remains open over the winter when the theme park is closed. Zoo entrance is included with the standard ticket price.
As of 2015 the zoo has over 1,000 animals, many of which are endangered and some being extinct in the wild. Chessington Zoo is split up into different areas and walkthroughs. The rhea, mara, wallabies, meerkats and agouti were previously the Monkey Walk area. Monkey Walk was replaced by Creatures Features which in turn was later replaced by the Wanyama Village in 2010. There is also a Children's Zoo, where children may feed domestic farm animals.
The Safari Skyway, an elevated monorail with an entrance in the Market Square theme park area, takes riders around various animal enclosures at the zoo. The ride closed in 2015 due to cost of continued maintenance. An animal presentation in front of the Burnt Stub Mansion hosts the Animal Antics show at different times throughout the day. Near the entrance to the Zoo, there are enclosures for otters and reindeer. Chessington Zoo also has an area called Sealion Bay, which features sea lion presentations several times a day and Creepy Caves, a reptile house.
The Trails of the Kings; a walkthrough attraction home to enclosures for nine western lowland gorillas, two Sumatran tigers, two Asiatic lion, fossa, Carpathian lynx, and binturong. In 2007 the Trail of the Kings section of the zoo underwent an inspection with the outcome that the gorilla enclosure was too small. A bigger building for the gorillas was completed in 2010. As of 2013, there are 10 gorillas at chessington, as well as two infants born in 2012.
The Wanyama Village & Reserve opened in late May 2010, in an area behind the Safari Hotel and houses animals such as Grévy's zebra, sitatunga antelope, ostrich, dorcas gazelle, Nile lechwe, fennec fox, dwarf mongoose, southern ground hornbill, Kirk's dik-dik, Aloatran gentle lemur, black-cheeked lovebird, crested porcupine, meerkats, scimitar horned oryx, common eland and Ankole cattle. It is part of the ZUFARI animal reserve. The area is open to guests staying in the Safari Hotel during the evening.
The AMAZU Treetop Adventure opened in April 2014 on the former site of the Monkey & Bird Garden. The area features adventure trail walkways, play areas and Aztec theming. The area has spider monkeys, saki monkeys, red-handed tamarins, golden-headed lion tamarins, Bolivian squirrel monkeys, Geoffroy marmosets, capybara, military macaws, Ecuadorian red-lored amazons, giant wood rail, agouti and three-banded armadillo. The animals in the area can either be viewed on ground or through the Amazu raised walkways, some of which, go through the enclosures.
Penguin Bay is a new area that opened in March 2015 as part of the Year of the Penguins. It features the long time residents of Chessington Zoo Humboldt penguins in a beach themed area. Seating for the demonstrations is aboard a shipwreck with a canopy. The new enclosure features glass walls to allow for better public viewing. As part of Chessington's plan to make the resort unique and more adventurous, Penguin Bay features a walk through attraction which allows guests to be in the centre of the enclose, with the penguins walking across their feet.
In a world first, the Pandamonium live show opened in 2016 which features life-size and lifelike animatronic pandas, giving families a one of a kind experience and the chance to see what it would be like to get up close to these exotic endangered animals. You will not believe your eyes as these one of a kind mischievous pandas create chaos on stage and have the whole family roaring with laughter at the mayhem that follows.
Chessington Sea Life Centre
In 2008 Chessington Zoo open Chessington Sea Life Centre on the site of the old children's Zoo, as an attempt to both determine if the park had a positive future and also to attract more multi-day visits. The Sea Life Centre, which is part of a franchise operated by Merlin Entertainments, has a number of exhibits including a Ray Pool and a Touch Pool. The Sea Life Centre is split into four areas: Our Shoreline, The Reef, Amazonia and Azteca which features the signature Ocean Tunnel.
"Our Shoreline" is the oldest area and has sea creatures found on the coast of Britain, featuring rays, seahorses and starfish. The area also has smaller exhibits including clownfish and crabs. The Touch Pool is also found here, in the centre of the area. The following area is named "The Reef", which features clownfish, cleaner shrimp, regal tang, slipper lobster and upside-down jellyfish
Next to this area is Amazonia, which opened in 2009. It is a slightly smaller version of the same exhibit that has appeared at other Sea Life Centres. It includes red-bellied piranhas, common octopus, tetras and other, smaller exhibits.
Azteca opened in 2011, it features a 10-meter Ocean Tunnel, which has sea creatures including: bonnethead sharks, lion fish, starry pufferfish, surgeon fish, angle fish, catshark and epaulette shark. The tunnel existed before the 2011 addition, but was redeveloped for the arrival of new fish. Aside from the Ocean Tunnel, Azteca also has jellyfish, seahorse and northern wolffish. The placement of the area, has resulted in the division of the Our Shoreline area, which is now separated into two areas.
Currently, Chessington World of Adventures operate two on-site hotels and a Glamping experience.
The Safari Hotel is a four star hotel themed to appear like a Safari Lodge. It was originally named the Safari Lodge Hotel in 2007, before changing to the Chessington Resort Hotel in 2010. The hotel was then refurbished and relaunched for 2014 and has since been known simply as the Safari Hotel.
The hotel opened in June 2007 and was originally operated by Holiday Inn until it was fully taken over by Merlin Entertainments in May 2014. The hotel features various African elements with giraffe sculptures in the foyer and Zafari Bar & Grill. The hotel's check in area features a reptile enclose, which has a variety of animals housed in it depending on the time of year.
When the hotel was integrated as a resort in 2010, the Wanyama Village & Reserve opened with access from the hotel.
The Azteca Hotel is the newer of the two and opened in 2014. The hotel is four star and themed around an ancient aztec temple. The hotel has three floors, with each floor themed to a different level of the temple. The top floor (named "Temple Summit") is decorated to give the impression that guests are on top of the structure looking out at the wildlife around.
The hotel's Temple Restaurant has a heavy emphasis on special effects, with a large tower sitting in the centre of the room. Every thirty minutes, it makes a display of water fountains, it also features rapid lighting sequences and ultraviolet markings. Around the perimeter of the restaurant is a trail of leaf cutter ants which pass the tables. At the entrance to the restaurant is a tank of red bellied piranha. Due to the hotel being built partly into the side of a hill, the Temple Restaurant has no windows, and instead has a series of screens built into the walls, showing various animated videos of the South American wildlife.
The hotel is linked to the Amazu area of Chessington Zoo, which is also aztec themed. Due to the location of the hotel in relation to the car parks, check in is located in the Safari Hotel.
Launched on 27 May 2016, Chessington's Explorer Glamping site comprises a total of 31 standard, and four deluxe tents. The Glamping site is located in the south west of the park, behind Lorikeet Lagoon in the Theme Park. The 'Explorer's Outpost' restaurant is available to residents.
2014 court case
In June 2012, a four-year-old girl fell 4.2 metres (nearly 14') while in line waiting for a ride. The park was summoned by Health and Safety Executive which claimed a health and safety breach. In the same month, park owner Merlin Entertainments initiated a court case to seek an injunction against Peter Cave, owner of survey consultancy Peer Egerton Limited. The consultancy firm had been hired by Merlin to prepare a report on the safety of the park, after the 2012 accident. Cave's firm found 2000 defects and potential safety hazards. This led to a dispute between Cave and Merlin, culminating in court proceedings to prevent the park from reopening after its 2012 winter break. Merlin won this case and the park reopened.
Cave then set up a campaign to warn the public and staff of the findings, including sending out 80,000 emails. Merlin claimed to have spent the £4.6 million on repairs and improvements that Cave had recommended and named the allegations "baseless". But High Court Judge Elisabeth Laing ruled that the campaign was a "matter of public interest" and refused the injunction to silence Cave.
Green belt restrictions
Due to the majority of the theme park being located on green belt lands the park is subject to several restrictions. Most significant are restrictions in height (no building higher than the tree line), noise (with time restrictions) and traffic management.
Various rides have had to have been built in pits due to these restrictions. It is most noticeable on Blue Barnacle, Croc Drop and Rattlesnake. The resort cannot operate Vampire past 11pm. The resort was not allowed to building anything higher than the Peeking Heights Ferris Wheel but that has since been removed from the park.
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- Theme park and features
Entrance to Dragon's Fury in Land of the Dragons
- Chessington Zoo
Chessington World of Adventures Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.