Hooray the new season has started for the Merlin owned theme parks across the country. This weekend was a preview weekend for annual pass holders only, so we popped along to see what was new for 2015. Sadly not a lot! The only new thing I could see on the map was the Penguin Bay. Our favourite rides The Vampire Ride, Dragon’s Fury and Bubbleworks were closed and not ready (they’ve had 6 months to sort it but that obviously wasn’t enough). These will be open when the park opens for the public on Wednesday 18th March. As compensation we were given a fast track ticket for one ride for our next visit.
The great thing was that the theme park was empty, only 5 minute queues, and this was probably because the weather was abysmal on Sunday and most people were enjoying their Mother’s Day in peace and quiet, indoors. Nevertheless we quickly made our way through some rides trying not to get too wet.
The monkeys are my favourite, the Monkey Walkthrough is really worth visiting if you want to get up close and personal. The squirrel and spider monkeys are truly fascinating to watch. The Trail of The Kings is great if you want to see the lions, tigers and gorillas. Zebras, hippos and giraffes can be seen on the Zafari ride — which is not really a ride, it’s just a bus drive through a manmade safari area. Lorakeet Lagoon is also fun if you like colourful birds but it’s rarely open. The Sea Life centre is a must for young kids.
Best For Big Kids (1.4m and above): Ramesis Revenge, Rattlesnake, Dragon’s Fury
My kid’s favourites for ages 5 and above (1.2m and taller): The Vampire Ride, Scorpion Express, Dragon’s Fury, Kobra, Monkey Swinger (wet) , Black Buccaneer, Dragon Falls (you WILL get wet)
Recommended for 3 and above: Jungle Bus, Treetop Hoppers, Seastorm, Griffin’s Galleon
Recommended for under 3: Bubbleworks, Tiny Truckers, Flying Jumbos, Skyway Safari (another way to see lots of animals), Sea Life Centre
Chessington is a lovely day out if your kids are between 1 and 14, there is plenty to see and do for the day. Expect to queue on weekends and school holidays, avoid summer holidays where queues for popular rides can be over an hour. Nightmare. The nicer the weather the busier it will be inevitably. If you don’t have kids or have teenage kids, don’t bother and go to Thorpe Park instead.
If your toddler is over 0.9m then there’s lots more rides for them to go on — but you will also have to buy them a ticket. Under 0.9m go free. Buy 1 get 1 free vouchers are available everywhere (cereal packets, washing powder, crisp packets etc.) as no one seems to pay full price which varies from £35-£50 per person. However if there is an odd number of people you can get tickets cheaper if you book online in advance. The website has so many different prices and discounts, check it out before buying tickets. Tickets can also be purchased in advance with Tesco Clubcard and Nectar points. Annual Passes for Chessington only, start from £54 per person.
Food: There are plenty of eating options such as burgers, fish &chips, fried chicken, Mexican food, Chinese food — everything being over priced. There are food outlets on every corner so you won’t go hungry. I would take as many snacks as possible to eat in the queues (or picnic) and grab some hot/cold drinks along the way. The veggie burger from The Fried Chicken Co. is probably the best veggie burger I’ve ever had. Donuts from Donut Shack were particularly tasty. Annual pass holders get 20% off everything.
Halal status: No halal meat available but lots of great vegetarian options
Address: Leatherhead Road, Chessington, KT9 2NE (sat nav postcode)
Parking: £3, free for annual pass holders