Monday, 1 July 2013

My boy flew an elephant and met a pirate cat - all at Chessington World of Adventures

the monorail at Chessington
I'm old enough to remember when Chessington was still a zoo, when Thorpe Park and Alton Towers opened and I remember when Legoland was still Windsor Safari Park. Admittedly I'm not someone who goes to theme parks for the rides and I'm such a lightweight that a roundabout going too fast is likely to make my feel a bit queasy so a roller coaster that goes upside down or drops super fast into a black hole is likely to send me into cardiac arrest.

With all of this in mind it is with some trepidation that we've been starting to take the boy to theme parks as he is now old enough to enjoy going on rides with the promise of going "a bit fast." He also wants to drive so this is one way to keep him out of the driver's seat of the family car and still satiate his curiosity.

I was very keen to take him to Chessington to try out some of the new attractions they have for under fives so we were delighted when Mumsnet invited us to a VIP day at Chessington World of Adventures. The park has undergone many transformations in the years since I was at school so it's a bit of everything now. There is the zoo, the sealife centre, the rides for grown-up thrill seekers and now specific activities and rides for little ones too. As part of our VIP day at the park we were invited to the Holiday Inn which is right next to the park and where you can watch animals roam while you eat your breakfast. My boy was less interested in the exotic zebras than the everyday ducks though - typical !

Flying Jumbos in Chessington
Once inside the park we went round the Sealife centre which is a good indoor activity for rainy days, but on the hot and sunny day we were there was a rapid run round for us. I'm still wowed by the tunnel where you can watch a shark go over your head and my boy loved watching the rays in the water and seeing real jellyfish. The octonauts trail activity was a little old for him, but is a nice way to encourage children to read the information about the creatures.

We had time to go on some rides before lunch so the boy and Hubbie went on the flying Jumbos where the little one was able to control how high they flew. It looked a bit too fast for my pathetic and feeble stomach to cope with, but they seemed to love it. In the course of the day we took him on the truckers ride and the toadies cars as well, but the latter was pretty difficult to locate. The noise and commotion from the Bubbleworks ride was enough to put our boy off so we left that one out and bought him an ice cream instead.

Captain Barnacles & Kwasi the pirate at Chessington
The hightlight of the afternoon was meeting the Octonauts characters who come out at regular intervals during the day. We were lucky enough to meet Captain Barnacles and Kwasi and my boy had a great time tickling and hugging them and having his photo taken. I was a bit surprised as he's not a fan of them usually, but since meeting them he's been a lot keener on the show.

All in all it's a fun day out for the family, but there are a few small things that would make it a bit easier for families. The directions in the park are sparce and the map is so full of information it's not as simple to follow as it could be. We did wonder if they couldn't have put the rides for smaller children a bit closer together as very young children get tired out and might not make it round all of them.

It was a busy and sunny day when we went and the staff are very helpful and everyone we asked for help was able to assist us willingly and cheerfully. I think Chessington is trying very hard to be all things to all people so most visitors will find something of interest. It is up to you whether or not this is enough to warrant more than one visit though.

If you have a Merlin pass you can use it here - visit to plan your visit.

I hope you have a fun day out :o)

I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel , a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid to attend the event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity. 


  1. Never been to Chessington, but will flag this to my daughter. We're always up for a good family day out, although I'm happy to hold coats and bags while other turn themselves inside out!

  2. So glad that you had a good time! We've had Merlin passes so we've had quite a few visits to Chessington over the years. I do agree with you about the children's rides being spread out, we do struggle with that a little bit, especially as my husband likes to do them all quickly before the queues build up so we end up running about all over. I like that there is a good variety of attractions for young children there.