Chessington World of Adventures (CWOA) was always (if I am brutally honest) my idea of living hell! I hate rollercoasters and my memory of visiting theme parks as a child was always of crowds, noise and the smell of fried doughnuts (a smell that still makes me gag now!).
When a girlfriend suggested that we check it out with our toddlers I was pretty horrified, but she convinced me, and off we went. Suffice to say both The Terrorists and I LOVED IT. By the end of the day I was a fully signed up ‘pushcahir pass’ holder (see below for more details) and one of the biggest converts going! Now I am like a reformed smoker and I spend my time preaching to anyone who will listen how fabulous I think Chessington is. Since we brought our Merlin passes and it re-opened again for the year we have been 3 times. Below is my summary of going with toddlers. If you have older children then I would disregard this advice as it doesn’t take into account any of the ‘big kids’ rides.
The Bear doesn’t actually know that the place is called CWOA (handy for adult conversations about arranging trips). To him it is called ‘home of the Dragon’ and one of the highlights of his day is to go to the little enclosure by the Explorer Gate and to touch the Dragon’s treasure resulting in the dragon coming out and roaring at him from his cave. This is slightly terrifying (for toddlers!) but is always surrounded by a shrieking little audience! (if truth be told I think we could go and just do this and The Bear would go home happy!)
As with everywhere we visit; the key is arriving early. The park officially opens at 10 but if you have a pass you can often go through 10 minutes earlier which gives you time to be in the front of the queue for the rides. The Bear has just passed 90cm and is therefore eligible for a whole new set of rides (providing he has an adult with him) so our best trips are when we go as a family and LSH can take him on while I amuse Bollie (who is only 80cm) on the smaller stuff. Below are the lists of what The Bear can do, what Bollie and The Bear enjoy together.
The Bear (with an adult to accompany him) can do on:
– Tuk Tuk Turmoil (dodgem cars)
– Jungle Bouncers ( a ride where you are bounced up and down!)
– Seastorm (boats spinning round on a crazy up and down motion)
Bollie and The Bear enjoy going on
– Bubble works (an enclosed ride on water with rubber ducks and enough fountains to get you a little bit wet) – one of the The Terrorists highlights!
– Tiny Truckers (little trucks on rails that the Terrorists get to ‘drive’)
– The Carousel (where there is the option of horses or carriages)
– Sea Dragons (a very tame set of little boats which go round in a circle (loved by Bollie!)
-Canopy Capers ( a series of rope bridges in the sky which are all enclosed and safe but have a few steeper climbs which require a leg up from an adult)
– Safari Skyway (a monorail which goes over the park affording a great view down into the zoo)
– Toadies Crazy Cars (little cars on rails which tour round past lots of model moles and a toad in a tunnel – The Terrorists love it – and so do I as it’s super tame and a 5 minute sit down!)
– The flying jumbos (flying elephants which The Terrorists can press a button to make rise into the sky)
– Dragons Playhouse (an indoor soft play)
– The mini splash park in Wild Asia (a good alternative for those under 90cm who can’t do the dodgems)
For a map showing the rides suitable for those less than one metre tall see – http://www.chessington.com/downloads/map/mini-explorer-map-2013-v2.pdf
We tend to get through as many rides as we can on arrival, leaving activities such as the farm (you can actually pet a number of the animals which The Terrorists adore – especially as there is a real live Ba Ba Black Sheep!), the walkthrough parakeet and monkey enclosures, the mini sea life centre (nothing on London Aquarium – but well worth a visit) and the zoo (a small selection of big ticket animals – tigers, gorillas and lions – in quite small enclosures (personally I am not keen on this for the sake of the animals) which means that they can nearly always be viewed by little people) for when it gets really busy and the queues build.
There are opportunities throughout the day (the timings are displayed on info boards around the park) to meet (and cuddle) heroes from Madagascar and Octonauts. The Terrorists favourite is to see the Penguins from Madagascar and we do this every time, with a nice lady organising the children to go up one at a time to allow some great photoshoots.
The other must do is the 30 minute Madagascar show, there are usually 2 a day and we always pick the lunchtime one and combine our picnic with the wait so we can get front row seats for the show (if you miss out you can sit on the ground at the front which is great for toddlers as it allows them to join in dancing with the stars!).
The whole place is incredibly clean, well-staffed, and (if you avoid school holidays and afternoons at the weekends) actually very quiet. The food venues are all reasonably priced and the food is of a good standard (albeit very much based around fast food and sandwiches). We always take a picnic with us and there are loads of nice places to sit to eat.
All in all I think the place is fantastic and I would recommend it to anyone!
Top Tip – try and visit all of the rides (especially The Bubbleworks, Tiny Truckers, Tuk Tuk Turmoil and Crazy Toad Cars first to avoid having to queue for too long)
Time to visit – there is without a doubt enough here for a full day (even if you don’t go on any of the big rides)
Highlights – Tiny Truckers, Bubbleworks, Flying Dumbo, The Madagascar Show, meeting the Penguins and Dragon with his treasure
Getting there –from Wandsworth it takes me just under 30 mins to drive. There is a £2 charge for the car park unless you have a Puschair Pass in which case it is included
Pushchair access – everywhere is accessible with pushchairs and there are places to park them when you are on the rides. I take a small bag for valuables and have always left everything else in the puspushchair without a problem
Price – for us it is completely free (due to our Merlin pass which we purchased in a January sale at a very discounted rate – from memory £80 per person for LSH and The Bear and I) – I would definitely recommend the pass if you live in London as between The Aquarium, The London Eye, Legoland and Chessington World of Adventures you can really get your money’s worth very easily (we are 3 months in and now averaging £12 per person, per visit to each attraction).
There is also the option of a pushchair pass which allows free entry to CWOA for one adult and one child for the year (on weekdays during school term times) for £54 for the year (http://www.chessington.com/plan/annual-passes/pushchair-pass.aspx)
The standard on the door prices are £44 for an adult and £37 for a child (under 12) with those under 90cm going in for free so without the passes this is an expensive day out. Look out for 2-4-1 vouchers on cereal and chocolate bars (last year Kit Kat were running an offer)
Food and Drink – If you don’t mind fast food or a sandwich there are lots of different options and the queues and quality aren’t too bad. We always take a picnic and there are lots of nice spots to enjoy it
Other attractions nearby – Chessington Garden Centre is a couple of minutes away in the car and they have a nice café and often have on seasonal attractions such as Father Christmas and a Circus
Baby facilities – there is baby change at the toilets but it can get busy so I have ended up doing a few changes in the buggy as The Bear can’t stand the wait!
Website – http://www.chessington.com/