||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (November 2010)|
|Slogan||Britain's Wildest Adventure!|
|Location||Chessington, Greater London, England|
|General Manager||David Smith|
|Opened||7 June 1987|
|Previous names||Chessington Zoo, Chessington World of Adventures & Zoo|
|Operating season||Theme park: March - October. Zoo: January - December|
Chessington World of Adventures Resort is a theme park, zoo and hotel in South West London, England. It lies 12 miles (19 km) south of Central London. Historically opened as Chessington Zoo in 1931, a theme park was developed alongside it, opening in 1987. In 2010, the park attracted 1.4 million people.
This theme park has it roots in Chessington Zoo, which opened in 1931; it was started by Reginald Goddard, who had bought the estate to showcase his private collection of animals. In 1946 when Mr Goddard died, the Pearson Publishing Company took over the zoo and managed it until 1978, when the Tussaud Group took control of the park (Tussauds was a subsidiary of the Pearson Group). In 1984, due to the zoo's declining attendance, Tussauds's Director of Development, Ray Barratt commissioned John Wardley to come up with plans to revitalise the park, and the decision was made to open an amusement park to complement the zoo, and so Chessington World of Adventures was born. The park opened with a new monorail, a powered coaster, log flume and a dark ride (all supplied by the German ride manufacturer Heinrich Mack GmbH & Co). The new rides were to operate on a pay-one-price admission basis, and replace the existing pay-as-you-go fairground rides. The monorail, named the Safari Skyway, opened early in 1986 to give the visitors a foretaste of the new attraction. "Chessington World of Adventures" opened as a theme park in 1987. The attractions were all heavily themed with emphasis on atmosphere and effects, meaning Chessington was one of the first true theme parks in Britain.
On 22 May 2007, The Tussauds Group was taken over by Merlin Entertainments Ltd, which owns other brands, including the Sealife Centre, and The Dungeons. This meant that Alton Towers, Thorpe Park and Madame Tussauds were also taken over as well. As a result of this purchase Merlin became the second largest entertainments operator in the world, ahead of Parques Reunidos and second only to Disney.
The park has a large selection of attractions. It also has over 1,000 animals, many of which can be seen from the Safari Skyway, an elevated monorail around the Zoo. Chessington has been in the same ownership as nearby Thorpe Park since 1998, and since 2007, Legoland Windsor. Since Chessington World of Adventures and Thorpe Park are located within 20 miles of each other, its owner Merlin has made efforts to market the two parks to different age groups: Chessington World of Adventures is meant to appeal to children while Thorpe Park strives to thrill older thrillseekers.
The park is split into ten themed lands, each with its own location, setting and rides: Chessington Zoo, Wild Asia, Forbidden Kingdom, Land of the Dragons, Market Square, Mexicana, Mystic East, Pirate's Cove, Transylvania, Africa and ZUFARI
|Ride name||Type||Opened in||Themed land||Manufacturer||Additional Information|
|Dragon's Fury||steel sit down spinning coaster||2004||Land of the Dragons||Maurer Söhne||Spinning car on a 1771 ft long track (540m); height limit 1,2m. 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 (370m) and a height of 49 ft (15m); height limit 1,4m.|
|Runaway Train||steel sit down||1987||Mexicana||Mack Rides||A family mine train ride that makes 2 circuits of the course; height limit 90 cm. Blauer Enzian model.|
|Vampire||suspended floorless swinging coaster||1990||Transylvania||Arrow Dynamics / Vekoma||A suspended floorless swinging coaster that reaches a speed of 45 mph (73 km) on a 2200 ft long track (670m); height limit 1,1m. Designed by John Wardley.|
The Zoo is one of the oldest areas in the park and is split in two. The west side of the park is home to Trails of the Kings; a walkthrough attraction home to enclosures for gorillas, tigers, lions and binturong. The east side contains smaller enclosures home to capybaras, rhea, mara, wallabies, meerkats and agouti in the Creature Features area. There is also a Monkey & Bird Garden with a squirrel monkey walkthrough as well as a host of other exotic birds and monkeys. Just outside this is the Children's Zoo, where children may feed domestic farm animals.
Chessington Zoo also has an area called Sea lion Bay, which features sea lion presentations several times a day and Creepy Caves, a reptile house. In 2008, a Sea Life Centre opened on the site of the previous children's zoo, which was later relocated, and contains British and tropical fish.
Recently the Trail of the Kings section of the Zoo underwent an inspection with the outcome that the gorilla enclosure was too small. The zoo was warned that if the housing is not expanded soon it would lose its licence to house gorillas. Planning applications have since been released to build a bigger building for the gorillas, expected to be opened in 2010.
Chessington closed Beanoland in late 2009 when the contract expired. Renamed 'Wild Asia', the new themed area opened in March 2010 as a wild jungle with a few exotic tribal statues dotted around the area to reinforce the image. Lorikeet Lagoon opened as part of Chessington's plan to integrate the zoo with the theme park; visitors may feed the birds nectar.
- Kobra - DiskO that opened in 2010; height limit 1,2m. Zamperla.
- Jungle Bus - a small magic carpet ride themed as a bus; height limit 90 cm. Zamperla.
- Monkey Swinger - wave swinger with a water element that opened in 2000; height limit 1,2m. Zierer.
- Temple of Mayhem - indoor play area where kids can fire foam balls.; age limit 4 years old min, height limit 1,4m max.
- Tuk Tuk - bumper cars that are themed as Asian tuk tuks; height limit 90 cm.
- Lorikeet Lagoon - bird enclosure that opened in 2000, guests can hand feed nectar to the Lorkeets.
- Banyan Maximus - a treehouse with an elephant head carving, it interacts with guests by squirting water at them.
Food and Shopping:
Maharajas Market - gift shop, Asian souvenirs
Noodle Noodle - Oriental cuisine
Asian Ices - coold drinks, ice cream
- Tomb Blaster - dark ride shoot out game where each rider is toting a laser gun to shoot at targets. Opened in 1994.
- Rameses Revenge - Top Spin with a water element that opened in 1995; height limit 1,4m. Huss.
Food, Shopping and Games:
Fried Chicken Co. - chicken
Forbidden Ices - ice cream
Rameses Vault Amusement Centre - Arcade Games
Land of the Dragons
Land of the Dragons opened in 2004 and is a self-contained, dragon-themed land containing rides and attractions for younger children.
There are two play areas in the main section: "Dragon's Playhouse", a large soft play area; and adjacent to this is "Canopy Capers", an outdoor treehouse rope bridge attraction. There are also child-appropriate rides and the "Dragons Tale Theatre".
- Dragon's Fury - a spinning roller coaster that opened in 2004; height limit 1,2m. Maurer Söhne.
- Griffin's Galleon - a Kontiki; height limit 90 cm. Zierer.
- Canopy Capers - obstacle course for kids; height limit 1,4m max. If the child is young enough he or she can be accompanied by an adult.
- Sea Dragons - a spinning boat ride; height limit none. Mack Rides.
- Dragon's Playhouse - play area; height limit 1,4m max.
- Sir Walter Squirtalot - a fountain that squirts water (it used to talk, the voice was that of a staff member in a hidden cabin).
- Dragon's Tale Theatre' - a children's puppet show at 11am, 1pm, 3pm. On peak days an additional show at 5:30pm.
Market Square is the central area of the park and has shops, video arcades and food stalls; it also contains the entrance to Safari Skyway, a monorail that opened in 1987 offering a guided tour of the zoo, lawn and mansion area. This area has a few shops and restaurants.
- Hocus Pocus Hall - a House of Mirrors that opened in 2003; any guests under 1.1m must be accompanied by an adult.
- Safari Skyway - monorail that opened in 1987. Any guests under 1.1m must be accompanied by an adult. Mack Rides.
- Aqua Adventures - This is an extra charge activity: £5 per 4 minutes. Age limit 5 years.
- Fort Fun - arcade games.
Adventures Chicken Shack - chicken
Market Square Donuts - fresh hot doughnuts and ice cream
Ice Cream Factory - ice cream and thick milkshakes; open on peak days only.
Pizza and Pasta - pizza, pasta buffet, salads
Chessington Shop - Chessington merchandise
Sweet Shop - candy shop
- Rattlesnake - this steel sit down wild mouse ride opened in 1998; height limit 1,4m. Maurer Söhne. Any guests with a torso +51 inches will not be able to ride.
- Runaway Train - this steel sit down coaster that opened in 1987 offers a themed mine train journey; height limit 90 cm. Mack Rides. Any guests with a torso +51 inches will not be able to ride. John Wardley designed this ride, along with Vampire and bubble works. John Wardley was one of the main designers at Tussuads for a number of years, and had a huge influence on the rides being create at its sister parks Thorpe Park and Alton Towers.
Mexican Cantina - nachos, burritos (open on peak days only).
Mystic East is an oriental-themed area with a large Buddha statue taking center court; the two main rides are the Dragon Falls log flume and "Peeking Heights", an Observation Wheel.
- Dragon Falls - a 510 long log flume ride themed around the legend of Dragons, opened in 1987; height limit 1,2m. Mack Rides.
- Peeking Heights - a 25m tall 18 pod Ferris Wheel that opened in 2005; height limit none / 1,1m alone. Fabbri.
Food and Shopping:
Oriental Express - Asian food, open on peak days only.
Dragon's Lair - Merchandise and confectionery, open on peak days only.
Pirates Cove is a small area adjacent to "Transylvania"; it is home to 2 sea-inspired rides: the Black Buccaneer, a swinging pirate ship and Seastorm, a small circular ride.
- Black Buccaneer - swinging pirate ship that is painted black (hence the name) that opened in 1988; height limit 1m. Huss.
- Seastorm - a boat ride in a simulated sea storm. If a guest chooses to stay on the boat after it first stops, the ride will then resume but at a faster speed; height limit 90 cm.
Chips Ahoy - fish and chips (open on peak days only).
Africa is Chessington's new area for 2012. Planning permission was requested in late 2011 to demolish the former area, Toytown and replace it with a new land in line with Chessington's image as being Britain's Wildest Adventure.
Many of the gentle, children's rides were moved to other areas, leaving only three rides in the area. The brand new "Madagascar Live! Prepare to Party, Toadie's Crazy Cars and the rethemed Jungle Bouncers". As well as the new Madagascar live show, Chessington installed The Coffee Hut, a coffee shop and African Trading Co, a gift shop to replace Cafe Nero and the Toybox Shop respectively.
- Toadie's Crazy Cars - a children's car driving attraction.
- Jungle Bouncers - mini drop tower that was called Berry Bouncers; height limit 90 cm.
Madagascar Live! Prepare to Party - a brand new live Africa-inspired show for 2012.
Food and Shopping:
The Coffee Hut - coffee shop, open on peak days only.
The African Trading Co. - merchandise and confectionery.
Xtra Adventures - annual passes, Fastrack and Animal experiences, open on peak days only.
- Vampire - a steel suspended floorless coaster that was opened in 1990; height limit 1,1m. Arrow Dynamics, the original Arrow trains were replaced with Vekoma trains in 2002. Vampire is said to be the worlds only suspended coaster to travel above the trees. It was designed by John Wardley, and was the original roller coaster at Chessington, opening in 1990.
- Bubbleworks - dark boat ride that opened in 1990 and was re-themed in 2006. The guests climb into a circular ring which holds up to four people and goes around a track (the speed of the ride depends on which part it is on). Mack Rides, designed by Sparks Creative. Another of John Wardley's attractions at Chessington, and one of the originals, although, now re-themed.
Food and Shopping:
Vampires Burger Kitchen - fast food (new for 2013)
Creaky Cafe - healthy food and drink; sandwiches, paninis, wraps and salads (new for 2013)
Fangtasia - merchandise and confectionery
- Zufari: Ride into Africa is a safari ride opened in 2013, riders board inside jeeps to drive through the plain habitats and interacting animals. The ride is said to have costed around £6 million to create the 20 acre area for the attraction. The attraction includes Giraffe, White Rhino, Flamingos, Zebras and more. The finale of the ride is entering a cave, with a flash flood. There is high chances of getting wet.
- Flying Jumbos - flying elephant ride for the kids.
Located next to the Lodge Gate, is the theme park's Holiday Inn hotel. The resort houses entertainment, such as bars and restaurants, a large indoor swimming pool, and the Wanyama Village and Reserve.
Next to the Explorer Gate is a basic Premier Inn hotel with Beefeater restaurant (The Monkey Puzzle).
In 2012, Chessington completely re-themed Toytown and replaced it with a new area, Africa. The park also opened the new Madagascar Live Show, a live show which includes all of the characters from the children's movie, Madagascar.
The park had been given planning permission to re-theme the Monkey & Bird Garden as Monkey Kingdom in 2012, complete with new enclosures, walkthrough attractions, jungle theming, and play areas. However, at the moment this has been put on hold in favour of other projects.
The park have applied for planning permission to create a new ride called Zufari which is a Safari Experience for 2013, where visitors ride in a safari trucks to explore a new reserve with flamingos, giraffes and rhinos. The 22 acre development site is located next to the Wanyama Village & Reserve, the main access would be from behind Rameses Revenge.
Merlin Entertainments have put in a £5m investment to regenerate the park throughout 2013 and 2014.
- "The Fifth Dimension" was a dark ride that opened in 1987 and closed in 1994, based around the story of a TV repair robot named Zappomatic.
- "Terror Tomb" (AKA "Forbidden Tomb") was a dark ride opened in 1995 and closed in 2003 that told the story of a tomb robber named Abdab trying to steal a jewel from within the tomb.
- "Professor Burp's Bubbleworks" was a world-famous dark ride in the Transylvania land opened in 1990 and closed in 2005 and rethemed in 2006. It took riders on a tour of a quirky fizzy pop factory using boats and a water channel.
- The "Chessington Railroad" 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.
- The "Magic Carpet" was located in the "Mystic East" area, until it closed at the end of the 1998 season. Samurai (see below) was installed in its place.
- The "Fun City Show" tent, housing circus/stunt entertainment, was demolished in 1999 to make way for Beanoland to open the next season.
- The "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.
- The "Clown Coaster" was a very small children's coaster. It was removed to make way for the new "Berry Bouncers" ride which took its place in 2001.
- "Action Man Training HQ" (AKA Action Man Critical Mission) was a large children's adventure playground-type attraction.
- "Samurai" was a Mondial Top Scan installed in 1999 and closed in 2003 in "Mystic East" which has been relocated to sister park Thorpe Park.
- "Rodeo" was a HUSS Breakdance that closed at the end of the 2004 season. It was left standing but not operating (SBNO) until 2007, when most of the ride was removed. The ride's centerpiece has been rethemed and is now located in Transylvania.
- "Beanoland" was an area themed around The Beano comic opened in 2000 and closed in 2009, featuring 'Billy's Whizzer', 'Dennis' Madhouse', 'Roger the Dodger's Dodgems' and 'Bash Street Bus replaced by Wild Asia.
Opening times and events
The park is open between 23 March and 31 October Most attractions open at 10:00 on days in which it is available, however there are a few exceptions to this rule; Dragon's Tale Theatre which does not open until 11:00, and Pizza and Pasta which does not open until 11:30. Usually the park closes at 17:00, however on peak days it is available until 18:00 and during the October half-term it is available until 20:00.
During the October half-term, the park hosts a "Halloween Hocus Pocus" event. During this event pumpkins, skeletons, cobwebs and witch characters can be found in the park.
Every year, in the February Half Term, the zoo opens to the public for "Zoo Days", where families can see the animals during the winter period when the theme park remains closed.
Pass holders preview day 17th and the 18th of March 2012.
In 2009, Chessington hosted a one-off event to celebrate the opening of the Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs movie. The theme park opened a temporary maze attraction just outside Beanoland featuring all the characters and scenes from the film. The event ran from 20 June and finished on 31 August 2009.
- "More about Thorpe Park - Three decades of thrills". Retrieved 2007-08-28.[dead link]
- "News report on gorilla enclosure". BBC News. 2007-04-12. Retrieved 2009-07-17.
- "What's New at Chessington World of Adventures". Retrieved 2011-10-18.
- "Ice Age Adventure attraction". Retrieved 2009-07-17.
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