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NOW CLOSED Chessington World of Adventures VIP event day reviewer thread. Non testers: if you've ever been to Chessington tell us what you think to win a Chessington Annual family pass worth £240

(79 Posts)
KatieBMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 28-Jun-13 16:08:01

This is a thread for the 10 Mumsnetters who attended the VIP family event day at Chessington. Thanks for going and we hope that you and your DCs had great day!

For those of you who didn't attend the VIP event day, if you/your family have been to Chessington World of Adventures please let us know your thoughts on the resort. What are your memories of days out at Chessington?
If you haven't been to Chessington before, what are your fave family days out? Everyone who adds a comment will be entered into a prize draw where one mner will win Chessington Annual family pass for a family of four worth £240.

VIP attendees:
Below are some questions for you to answer but do feel free to add any other comments you or your family may have.

Please remember to also write a review of your day on the MN review area here

- What was your, and your family's, overall experience of your day at Chessington?

- What did your children think about the Octonauts activities and exclusive meet and greet?

- Did you or your family go on the new ride ZUFARI: Ride into Africa? If so what did you/your DCs think about the ride?

- What were your/your DCs highlights of the day?

- Which, if any, attractions/ shows/ rides would you most recommend to parents with young children?

- Overall, would you recommend Chessington World of Adventures to your friends and family if it came up in conversation? If so, why? If not, why not?

- Do you think you'd be likely to revisit Chessington World of Adventures Resort again in the future? If so, why? If not why not?

Please also upload any photos of your family enjoying their day out at Chessington World of Adventures to this thread. Please note photos may be used by Chessington World of Adventures Resort on Facebook, their website and possibly on other marketing material.

Everyone who shares their thoughts on this thread will be entered into a prize draw where one winner will receive a Chessington Annual family pass for a family of four worth £240!

Thanks and good luck,

MNHQ

PS. Chessington are in the process of creating a map especially for families with young children and they'd love to hear your thoughts on what you'd like to see included. If you want to get involved please PM me and we'll put you in touch.

tallulah Fri 28-Jun-13 16:26:51

Non tester. We used to go as a family fairly regularly but haven't been since youngest DD (6) was born, so my comments may well be out of date.

Last time we went it was horrible. People pushing in to every queue and the staff doing FA to stop it (memorably people blatantly climbing over the barriers to the front of the dodgems queue. Not just one person but 4 or 5 at a time) People smoking in queue lines. Graffiti all over the landscaping of the rides. Rubbish everywhere.

I hope it has changed because our last visit was so awful we've never been back sad

Wonderstuff Fri 28-Jun-13 17:44:47

I'm one of the lucky people going on Sunday. I think I'm more excited than the kids. Both have been going to bed without playing up all week because they don't want me to phone Captain Barnicles and tell him incase he cancels the invite. I last went a couple of years ago and had a great time. We didn't go near the big rides, the animals were fab.

seatfor5 Fri 28-Jun-13 19:41:00

I am one of the lucky ones! I usually take my 3DS's to the zoo days in the winter as they are too small for the big rides. So it will be interesting to see what its like in full flow!

paperlantern Fri 28-Jun-13 20:14:46

Love love love chessington! Best memories are of chessington at halloween, pumpkins everywhere and vampire ride in the dark.

We rode zufari this year and that was brilliant. I love that chessington has really nutured the zoo. super place to see lions and tigers.

Would absolutely recommend chessington for young families (dd was 3 for first visit ds 2) bubblework, safari sky way, flying elephants and toady cars were favs, we loved to spend some quiet downtime in the zoo on the afternoon. Loads and loads of attractions for youngsters, I think getting the message out about just how much there is is the main thing (or not because it will become as crowded as legoland)

Ds has SN and have found it a very welcoming place. Staff are lovely and helpful and other guests seem more tolerant (we regularly have vile comments at legoland.). The mix of rides is perfect for ds and daughter. I also help run a special needs group that do coach trips. In the past we've gone to legoland, but there disabled policy is getting so difficult we're looking at maybe chessington instead next year.

Not so good, bubbleworks and toady cars whilst much much loved have seen better days and really needs a revamp. Any chance of the return of mr burp of my childhood?!?

Chessington ha just the right mix of

Badvoc Sat 29-Jun-13 08:03:09

We are off to chessington to tomorrow!
Kids are very excited and so is mum
Ds2 is octonauts mad so can't wait to see his little face when they turn up smile
My kids love animals so the zoo and sea life centre will be a must see.

We've got Merlin Annual Passes for this year, so have been to Chessington twice and are planning on going more times.

DCs both adore the tigers and feeding the lorikeets. The nicest thing about Chessington is that if the queues get too long then there's always animals to look at - DS has ASD and I just hate queues so I'm never up for a day of 1-hour-queue-5-minute-ride-1-hour-queue-5-minute-ride, repeat until hometime.

We went at Easter, queued for Zufari at the beginning of the day then did animals and smaller rides for the rest of the day - very successful trip. Went again a couple of weekends ago on a drizzly Sunday, DH and I took it in turns to do thrill rides with DD and baby rides with DS. Apart from one long queue for Vampire, we didn't have to wait more than 15 minutes for anything, even Cobra, Dragon Falls and Tomb Blaster we pretty much walked onto, but that's partly because we watched the queues as we walked round and pounced when they seemed reasonable.

Good: Vampire, animals, especially tigers, lorikeets and sealions, the fact that you can go by public transport from Central London without the traffic nightmare that Legoland involves, the thing on the website where you can check queue times live from within the park (but I'm not sure it was completely reliable), wide range of rides for all ages and cowardliness, relatively decent food (especially with Merlin 20% discount)

Less good: Bubbleworks smells ever so slightly of mould, which was a real disappointment. It also broke down while we were on it- fortunately we were close enough to the end that we could clamber off. Tombblaster not as interactive as the Legoland version. One super grumpy attendant who wouldn't let us on a nearly empty ride for no readily apparent reason and neither explained nor expressed regret.

ChippyMinton Sat 29-Jun-13 09:10:42

We went on an INSET day recently and, because it was relatively quiet, had a great day. I would avoid like the plague on a weekend or holidays though. It's perfect for a mixed age range of DC, as there's plenty for little ones and they are less stringent about kids riding with an adult, compared to Legoland. For example, I could sit with one DC with the other two in the next car, whereas at Legoland I would have to do parent-swap all day long.

AintNobody - interesting about Tomblaster - had a similar experience, attendant half-loading the ride and waiting ages before sending it off. Odd.

Zufari was fun, and will be better once the landscaping matures.

My DC love all the rides and come over all nostalgic (they are aged 9-11!) at going on Mr Toad and the flying elephants smile.

I was disappointed that the food outlets have been re-branded to replace the big names, as I liked knowing what I was getting, even if prices were higher.

One thing people might not be aware of is the facility for organised groups to camp on site. DD went with the Brownies last year and was thrilled to be in the park early and after it had closed, to meet the animals and have dinner.

Cindy34 Sat 29-Jun-13 09:16:07

We go often as have annual pass. The toilets have improved over the last few years but the ones by the monorail are a bad layout and in my view should be demolished and rebuilt perhaps as a shop. Then use one of the nearby shops as a toilets, similar to then great family and disabled friendly toilet block at Legoland Harbour.

Many rides are suitable for younger children but RR still exists. Given it now needs all the harnesses replaced, maybe it is time to relocate it to another park and replace with something more family friendly. We got a lot, do go on rattlesnake but never go on RR. Are we unusual or is RR not used by many visitors?

Legoland I see as being for young children, Chessington for slightly older children, Thorpe for teens and above. Whilst there is some overlap, especially between Legoland and Chessington, thorpe should be more the teen market - it certainly has dropped a lot of toddler things over the years, anyone remember the farm.
Chessington works well being Zoo plus rides suitable for young children, I do not feel it needs to aim itself to include the teen market. Teens accompanying younger children will still enjoy the rollercoasters, DragonFalls and can do so with those family members not leave them watching because they are not 1.4m or too scared to go on a ride.
So keep the closed for the foreseeable notice up on RR and ditch it at the end of the season. Is the hole big enough for a pandoras box? (Is that what Hex is called?)

llamallama Sat 29-Jun-13 09:21:22

We live (quite) near to Chessington and have two small children. I love the fact that they offer a mother/toddler ticket that we can use on weekdays in term time! Perfect while I'm on maternity leave!

Positives
* lots for small children
* the zoo is fab and viewing platforms/access to see animals is child friendly and we always see lots
* good picnic spaces
* good rides for small ones. Like bubble works (though its starting to look a little tired)

Negatives
* could be better signposted around the park
* queues for food/drink outlets often very long
* car park fee annoys me! I think tickets are expensive as it is without charging for parking

The map idea sounds fab! Include changing stations/toilets clearly!

Cindy34 Sat 29-Jun-13 09:26:08

Hex is a Madhouse http://www.vekoma.com/index.php/specialities-and-attractions/madhouse though there is another ride called a pandoras box, though not sure that is as family friendly. Wonder what theme could be used for a madhouse? Monkey swingers?

nannynick Sat 29-Jun-13 11:22:36

paperlantern - is Ramases Revenge really part of the right mix, do you go on it?

I agree that the mix of zoo, rides is good but I also agree that rides with 1.4 min height are too big and should be phased out, replaced with 1m or 0.9m min height rides which are more family friendly but still offer excitement and/or surprises.

Bringing food inhouse is fine in my view though service could be improved. Went to coffee place next to softplay last Sat and queue was long, two servers only one seemed to be making drinks. Discount scheme for muffins seemed to delay order process - more signs, less asking perhaps. I know its upselling but parents often want a quick coffee break not having to contend with staff trying to upsell whilst delaying making drink.

Griffins Galleon is in a strange place, no walkthrough route. Could a route be made, perhaps to join near the carrosel?

Nice to see the viewing platform was kept when Zuffari was created, means some animals can be seen without going on the trucks.

hermancakedestroyer Sat 29-Jun-13 20:02:38

Non-tester: We have been to Chessington on many occasions and loved it each time. The children particularly enjoyed the vampire ride and zufari. The staff on the bubbleworks were brilliant fun and made it really enjoyable for us all. It does look a little tired now and could do with a lick of paint.
Tomblaster was also a hit! we enjoyed it a lot.
The cobra was also very enjoyable. Our last visit was in April and it snowed! We got a letter offering us another day at chessington for free which was great.
We love it here and will certainly be back.

QOD Sat 29-Jun-13 20:14:00

Non tester .. Bubble works needs re vamp, but sad and boring and old now

We went in April and whilst we had a great time, we were REALLY pee'd off that there was no mention on their website that when its cold, and it was bloody cold, the rides don't open until 11/12 as they can't run on icy rails.
Fair enough, BUT TELL PEOPLE ON YOUR PIGGING WEBSITE COS IT'S VERY BORING SITTING DOING NUFFIN FOR TWO HRS. .... yes I did mean to shout, it was vvvvvvv boring and cold.

It was, apparently, mentioned on their Facebook page, but not a peep on their own site.

Saying that, we do love it, we did have a great time, even though Dragons Fury broke down twice that day, once with us on it ...

Hopezibah Sat 29-Jun-13 21:54:21

We didn't attend the VIP day but we did recently visit and had a great day out!

What really surprised me was that there was so much to do for children in my kids age group (aged 7 and 8) whereas I was under the illusion that it was for teens before that.

We loved the quieter parts like the zoo and the aquarium as most people seemed to go for the rides.

The hotel looked amazing and we loved the Africa theme throughout.

We were a little disappointed with Zufari after all the hype we had heard about it, on the day we visited there were only 2 zebras out that day and NO other animals at all in that section.

Overall we had a brilliant day and the kids are already nagging to go back there. I have been telling our friends that it really is a good day out with plenty to do!

Always remember going around age 13 myself and 5 school friends we had one of the best days ever.

Still laugh our heads off at my friend who cried and wailed for her daddy on remeses revenge.

We spent half the day hanging around one of the stools to swoon over a young chap named paul who worked there.

seatfor5 Sun 30-Jun-13 18:43:11

So after a very hot and busy day at Chessington I have 3 very tired boys! First I would like to thank MN and Chessington to treating us to such a fab day, the lady from the resort was lovely and very helpful.

Points that need improving - I would say that although I understand that you are going to have queue's for rides I do think Chessington could do more to entertain people whilst they queue - 45 minutes with 3 kids under 10 is no fun! Secondly i found that there was no way my older son could go on any of the bigger rides because I was not allowed to queue with him due to the fact that I couldn't go on the rides because to smaller kids.

With regards to the map I found it easy to follow although did manage to take a wrong turn (but more my fault than the maps) Interactive maps around the park stating show times would be a nice idea.

COCKadoodledooo Sun 30-Jun-13 21:15:49

We're just home. Dc already snoring in bed, am going to do likewise very soon! Awesome day out, thank you so much. Will be back with a proper review tomorrow (or later if I wake up a bit!) but for now - highly recommended, great fun day out.

Thanks again thanks

Wonderstuff Sun 30-Jun-13 21:17:06

Photo is my DDs face when she saw the Octonauts! Priceless. We had a lovely day today, big thanks to MNTowers and Chessington grin

- What was your, and your family's, overall experience of your day at Chessington?
We had a lovely day. There was more than enough for DD(5) and DS (2.10) to do. We may go back later in the year, we didn't spend much time in the zoo (and that's my favourite bit)

- What did your children think about the Octonauts activities and exclusive meet and greet? See picture, definitely the highlight for both children was the meet and greet. The activity trail at Sealife Centre kinda went over DDs head and DS is much too young. I felt there was already so much going on at the Sealife Centre it got lost.

- Did you or your family go on the new ride ZUFARI: Ride into Africa? If so what did you/your DCs think about the ride? Yes, I went with DD, I think she was a bit young, she got very scared in the cave, but enjoyed it up to then, We got very close to the giraffes and caught a glimpse of the rhinos. It was a beautiful warm day today as well which helped. I liked the way the queuing was broken up by the video and the staff were great.

- What were your/your DCs highlights of the day? DD loved bubble works, although DS got scared, he's a bit of a wimp sensitive. DS loved the Tiny Trucks and wanted to go back. The Flying Dumbo ride was a big hit with both of them. We all went on the dodgems, and everyone had fun on that, I think that was mine and DH highlight.

- Which, if any, attractions/ shows/ rides would you most recommend to parents with young children? The zoo and aquarium are great. We didn't go today but last year we went to the sealion show which was good. I love the monkey walkway thing. All the rides for little ones are nice, although the Toadie ride is looking tired. I would also recommend fast track passes if you have very little ones on a weekend.

- Overall, would you recommend Chessington World of Adventures to your friends and family if it came up in conversation? If so, why? If not, why not?
I think that the walk-up price is very expensive and I personally would not go that price. In the past we have used Tesco Clubcard points or got a BOGOF voucher and I think if you are doing that its a great day out, I love that there is space to have a picnic, even today, a very warm Sunday, it wasn't too busy, especially around the zoo. The hotel looked fantastic.

- Do you think you'd be likely to revisit Chessington World of Adventures Resort again in the future? If so, why? If not why not? Yes we will, it caters well for younger children

I would like to add a few things that would improve it.
Signs from the M25 southbound, they send you to Oxshott then there is a roundabout with no sign, were we go lost today and last year, stressful. Bubble works, as someone said up thread it does smell a little odd, and there are no actual bubbles, would be lovely to have some bubble machines running and pump in some subtle soapy smell.
Finally toilets in the park, they just weren't terribly clean, also when DH went to change DS, the changing table went across toilet cubicles, so one bloke had to wait for DH to finish to get out of the cubicle!

Badvoc Mon 01-Jul-13 07:49:14

I will upload some photos later as the laptop is playing up but for now....

- What was your, and your family's, overall experience of your day at Chessington?

Very positive. The staff were, without exception, friendly and helpful. Becky was great and did a sterling job at the event. Also the young man on the toad cars and the zufari staff. The hotel looks amazing and my dc are already planning their next visit (gulp) my dc are (just) 10 and (nearly) 5 and they were both very happy and excited and enjoyed the rides and activities. I only have 2 small irritations...the cash machines charge for withdrawals and most of the refreshment stalls don't have fridges so you queue up for 5 mins to be told that water is room temp (it was 28 degrees yesterday!)

- What did your children think about the Octonauts activities and exclusive meet and greet?

They loved it! I got a hug from capt barnacles too smile again, the staff member was very friendly.

- Did you or your family go on the new ride ZUFARI: Ride into Africa? If so what did you/your DCs think about the ride?

Yes. It was amazing. However....we had fast track passes so only waited 10 mins. If I had been waiting 45-50 mins like some people were I think I would have been disappointed as the ride was only 3-4 mins long! The staff were excellent, really enthusiastic which can be hard in 28 degree heat!

- What were your/your DCs highlights of the day?

I asked them last night...."all of it mummy" smile

- Which, if any, attractions/ shows/ rides would you most recommend to parents with young children?

The Madagascar live show was great. Also the sea life centre. It's not too large for little ones. The bubble works was fun and we left it till the end so it didn't matter that we got wet smile I don't know how much the fast track tickets cost, but if we were to go again we would get them....some of the queue were very long and that's not much fun with little ones.

- Overall, would you recommend Chessington World of Adventures to your friends and family if it came up in conversation? If so, why? If not, why not?

Yes I would. We had a great time and its nice to find a venue that suits disparate age ranges.

- Do you think you'd be likely to revisit Chessington World of Adventures Resort again in the future? If so, why? If not why not?

Yes I do. But we would stay at resort this time. We live a 2 hour drive away and due to accidents/bad traffic it took us 4.5 hours to get home! sad

Thank MN and chessington for a lovely day out. Will post pics later....

prakattack Mon 01-Jul-13 10:38:14

I went to Chessington last October - was really excited to go for the first time, with a friend and our children. We were disappointed, found the whole place quite tired and drab-looking. There were plenty of rides for our pre-schoolers and they had a great time.
But, this thread has confused me.... I don't remember half the things people have mentioned above - Bubble Works, feeding lorikeets, sealions.. didn't see any of these!
We did find the maps and the signposting around the park quite confusing though so maybe that's how we managed to miss it all!!
I think I just found that I was, maybe unfairly, comparing it unfavourably to Legoland and Thomasland which we also visited last year, and which were both clean, bright, cheerful and much, much easier to navigate!

- What was your, and your family's, overall experience of your day at Chessington?

Overall we all had a great day - thanks to everyone at Chessington! It was odd that the bit where CWOA almost shot themselves in the foot was the organised promotional part of the day. Becky was lovely and it was nice to have refreshments and a base at the hotel but the various delays around start time and when lunch was served meant that by 14.00 I had hot grumpy children who felt that they hadn't actually got to do very much yet. But then the park seriously redeemed itself in the remaining three hours; the DCs had a blast and left tired and happy. The FastTrack tickets definitely helped there; I'd certainly plan to buy one of the smaller FastTrack packages if visiting again at the weekend because queueing for ages with a toddler is no fun. We even got to try out the Lost Child ride when DD1 vanished completely (it later turned out that she'd tucked herself away into a secluded corner and fallen asleep) and that was handled very well by the staff.

- What did your children think about the Octonauts activities and exclusive meet and greet?

My 8yo was a bit jaded about the whole thing (as I'd expected), 5yo was happy enough but not blown away and 2yo (who I'd expected to be really excited) was instead terrified of the giant Octonauts! So it wasn't as big a hit with them as I'd thought it would be.

- Did you or your family go on the new ride ZUFARI: Ride into Africa? If so what did you/your DCs think about the ride?

No; my 2yo wasn't tall enough. It looked fun, though...

- What were your/your DCs highlights of the day?

My toddler would just like to live in the Bubbleworks! She was awestruck the whole way round. And actually her second favourite thing was probably the fountain tucked around a corner in the Land of Dragons; we spent ages there.

- Which, if any, attractions/ shows/ rides would you most recommend to parents with young children?

The Bubbleworks definitely, although the queue can be long (and it doesn't look from the website as though the Bubbleworks FastTrack tickets we got are generally available at the moment)

- Overall, would you recommend Chessington World of Adventures to your friends and family if it came up in conversation? If so, why? If not, why not?

Yes, I think I would -- there was a lot more available for all ages than I'd expected so where I'd previously have only suggested it to people with older children I'd be more likely to recommend it to a wider range of people now.

- Do you think you'd be likely to revisit Chessington World of Adventures Resort again in the future? If so, why? If not why not?

I think I may well get a Pushchair Pass to let me go back on schooldays; they seem very good value (so much so that I've read the T&Cs through twice to check that there isn't a hidden catch). And we will probably do a whole-family trip at some point, or encourage DH to take the older two (it's still a bit tricky to juggle several children who fit into different height bands). We'd preferably try to do it on an INSET day or earlier in the season, though, to keep the queueing down.

I'm afraid most of my pictures were rubbish, and this isn't exactly a marketing shot...

gazzalw Mon 01-Jul-13 11:07:31

Non-tester here....

We love Chessington and it's way easier for us to get to than Legoland which is a real 'schelp'....

I was a bit disappointed that we were not able to participate in this day out because aside from being fun for the little ones, it is one of the few activities that appeals to families with diversely aged children. We have a tween and a seven year old and it is getting increasingly difficult to find activities that appeal to both. Chessington fulfills the brief very nicely!

We have never had anything but a good time at Chessington although one Summer holiday we did queue for two hours in the baking sunshine for the Tomb Raider experience. We have now learned our lesson to do the most popular rides first...

I think at some point we may consider doing a package, staying at the hotel on site so that we can do everything. With travel considerations we never manage to do everything - I think about seven or eight activities/rides is probably the maximum we've ever managed in a not overly long daytrip.

I think we've been three times and are planning another trip this Summer. DW and I didn't really do theme parks as children so I can confess that we enjoy it as much as the children grin!

ReallyTired Mon 01-Jul-13 11:59:01

Non-tester here. My family really enjoyed Chessington. However my four year old daughter was really disappointed that she was not allowed on Zufari because of her height. It just did not seem logical as there were far more scary rides like Tomb Blaster where she was allowed on. What upset her most was that a child who was clearly younger than her (and being pushed about in a pushchair) was allowed on Zufari. I feel it would be fairer and safer if Zufari had an age restriction rather than a height resistriction. There are some extremely tall two year olds and some very short four year olds.

dd loved bubble works and the sealion show. My son enjoyed Chessington as well.

HappyAsEyeAm Mon 01-Jul-13 12:34:36

Tester here.

Thank you so much for choosing us.

Overall experience: we had a very enjoyable day. The VIP package was fantastic. I had no idea that there would be a goody bag, and that was very kind and so unexpected. As there were so many lovely things in it, DS didn't once ask for anything from a shop, and that was much appreciated. The drinks and food were fantastic quality and there was lots of variety. We were really impressed by the efforts and thought that had gone into everything. All staff members were very professional and welcoming. We didn't really feel that we had enough time in the park though. If the welcome and breakfast hd been at 9 or 9:30, we would have had loads of time to try more things at the park. By not getting in until after the sea life had finished, when it was already 11:40, we felt that we had missed a lot of it, and the queues were already incredibly long.

Octonauts: the highlight for my DC. They thought it was very special indeed to meet them, as they are huge fans of the book and programme. The octonauts activity in the sea life centre was less of a hit. It was just so crowded and noisy with adults, children of all ages, and pushchairs. DS didn't get to any of the portholes as there were so many other children around them; the portholes are very small, tucked into an already small and crowded space, and were not well highlighted or lit. I feel that a lot more could be done to make them more obvious, interactive and interesting. Especially as the octonauts stories and programmes have an educational element to them, this could have been made more of.

Zufari: we didn't go on it. The queue was huge, and I don't know how we could have fitted it in. We didn't get a fast pass for this, or we would definitely have gone on. If we were to go back, I would make sure we went on this as the gates opened.

Highlights: we went on everything we had a fast pass for, which were bubbleworks, toadies trucks, the cars thing, jumbos and also the monorail. We saw lots of animals in the zoo too. And the seal life and octonauts meet and greet that were part of the day. We stopped or a drink and ice lolly mid afternoon, and did the lunch, and all that took us to nearly 5pm. The DC loved the monorail and got an amazing view of the animals, and also the meet and greet octonauts, and they were both highlights for them. Apart from the monorail, every ride we did, we used your fast pass for. DS1 absolutely loved all of the refreshments you provided and the carrot cake, and the meet the animals at the hotel. smile

Recommendations: I only feel that I could recommend the zoo and the meet the octonauts. I felt that the rides we went on were dated, very basic and tired, and had we all queued for them, I would have been really disappointed. we would have loved to have gone on other rides but the queues were too long or small children. The bubbleworks was a bit smelly, but also quite dull. There are no bubbles! I think the park is hugely geared towards older children, who are more willing to queue in anticipation of a big thrill. I think we would have really liked zufari though, and that will be a big draw.

Recommend: I would not recommend to anyone with children of under 7 or so. The rides we went on are not worth queuing for in my opinion. And I do not think the additional cost of a fast track pass for the rides for younger children (even if you have a 2 for 1 voucher) would make this a value for money day out compared to other theme parks. But I would definitely recommend it to parents of older children.

Revisit: no, for the reasons above. But we were made to feel very special and welcome, and we enjoyed our day. Had we paid for it, I would not have been happy with our experience of the park's amenities, but really, the VIP treatment was very special.

HappyHippyChick Mon 01-Jul-13 12:36:48

I'm a non tester, my older two ds's love CWOA and we are frequent visitors (although we haven't been this year yet). I think CWOA Is great because there are rides to suit all ages and although I think teens would prefer the big rides at somewhere like Thorpe Park, CWOA is great for Tweens and younger children.

We love Chessington soo much we brought the annual pass! First went in Sep 2011, ds was then just 5, he loved the vampire ride , runaway train and buccaneer. my dd was then 8 and loved dragon's fury as well as afore mentioned rides. She didn't stop talking about it from when the tickets ran out in sep 2012 - inc. watching all the u-tube videos and studying the map and web site! (she is slightly autistic though and chessington became her main new obsession). brought new pass from April this year, still really enjoying it and go most weekends.!! grin

Oh, should have said above that the Octonauts quiz trail in SeaLife went down well with the older two, although I think the Octonauty-ness of it was lost on them. DD1 in particular was very proud of her completed quiz sheet.

Badvoc Mon 01-Jul-13 13:12:10

I couldn't get my 2 to so the quiz trail...they were too excited and wanted to see everything and get out and about into the park.

CointreauVersial Mon 01-Jul-13 13:12:49

We live fairly close to Chessington so have been a few times. It has always been a fun day out. We particularly liked the information boards showing which rides have the shortest queue and the "all-you-can-eat" pizza restaurant. We have had as much fun on some of the "smaller" rides (e.g. the pirate ship - Black Buccaneer??) as on the big ones, and the queues are much shorter. We tend to go on days where it is unlikely to be too busy (e.g. Inset days). We haven't been to the zoo bit recently, as my lot are more interested in thrills at their age, but I remember it being a little underwhelming.

We always buy the tickets using offers (2 for 1, or Tesco vouchers) and I imagine so do 99% of visitors, so why don't they just put the prices down?

ScienceRocks Mon 01-Jul-13 13:18:43

Non-tester here. We have had annual passes off and on for a few years, because it is quite close to where we live. We last visited a few weeks ago.

My DDs (aged 6 and 3) love it. The sea life centre and zoo are particular draws, plus the various animal shows, but the rides are also much loved. However, I have noticed over the last few years that it is getting increasingly tatty and it irks me that very little of the undoubtedly huge amount of money the park gets in admission fees is spent on maintaining the existing rides, particularly those for younger children. Mr Toads Cars, the carousel and Bubbleworks spring to mind as things that need attention. Is there a reason these aren't done when the park is "zoo only" during the winter?

The other thing that really annoys me is the parking charge. The entrance fee is steep and some cost for maintaining the car parks should be allocated as part of this. What is particularly galling is that much of the car park is several fields with dirt tracks round them. Why is no money being spent on at least improving the tracks? The potholes are ridiculously large and you can feel like you are going to leave part of your car behind when leaving. It wouldn't surprise me at some point if this does actually happen!

Some covered areas for picnics would be nice. We have often been in winter when it is fine to amble round, even in drizzle, but sitting down with a picnic lunch is almost impossible. In winter, please could the cordoned off areas of restaurants be opened to customers with their own food? They would probably buy hot drinks and chips etc to supplement the food they have brought from home, but don't want to buy full meals which are mostly junk. During the summer, obviously, is a different matter.

AgnesBligg Mon 01-Jul-13 13:19:38

I was a tester yesterday and I am just popping in to say how grateful I am to MN and the staff Chessington for giving us such a fabulous day out. My son wants to return to stay at the Hotel.

I'll be back later to review properly.

ThePskettiIncident Mon 01-Jul-13 15:54:34

I used to love chess ingrown as a kid. The rides are great and lots of picnic spots around.

However, the animal enclosures and the zoo generally is a disgrace. None of the animals have a reasonable amount of space, they look bored and are not well cared for. It's awful.

I haven't been in a few year for this exact reason. I really really hope it's changed.

BeCool Mon 01-Jul-13 16:44:40

non-tester.
I've been once just before DD1 started nursery (aged 3) - so it was a quite day. I'm a little nervous to go back in school holidays or weekends and I imagine it's all about standing in queues all day.

DD did love it though and still talks about going on the Wild West rollercoaster and how exciting it was. She asks to visit again regularly.

mummytime Mon 01-Jul-13 17:01:46

Non-tester just went today. Zufari was quite fun, but really needs to be done on a bigger scale, the film seemed to take as much time as the ride. We were disappointed not to see the Ostriches. The silly cave bit would be annoying on a colder day and didn't add much. I really hated the lemur, and the actress was wooden and had a very odd (London) accent for a lemur.

I like the new theming, and it will be good when it is extended to all areas.

We spent about 4/5 hours there, which wouldn't be much if we had paid full price (we used Nectar points). I really wonder what people would do with a 2 day break at the Hotel, although these seemed to be relatively good value (maybe would be better if you could attend more than one Merlin park over the two days).

We ignored the Octonaults in the Sea Life bit, Octonaults is a bit young for the pre-teen age group which used to be the main target of Chessington.

The staff were very good and polite. However probably under employed today. The queueing areas could have all doen with being shortened today.

I still don't understand why you have to get so wet in Bubbleworks, and it could do with some updating. The mirrors in Hocus Pocus hall needed cleaning (it made the maze too easy).

I doubt we will be going again for the forseeable future. But my teens do rate Thorpe Park, just my younger one isn't really into "scarey" rides yet.

towicymru Mon 01-Jul-13 17:05:42

Non tester.

We have been for Halloween fo rthe last 2 years and really love what they do with the place! This year we went in April (DS's birthdays) as we felt that they were getting too big for Legoland.

There are plenty of rides for smaller children. We always stay over at the hotel and try and break it into 2 seperate days out - 1 day is adventure and the other is for the animals (although we do get a bit of a cross over and still don't get round to all we want to do!).

We never found a problem with the facilities but I don't need baby change facilities so can't comment there. I did like the fact that there is a block of toilets just outside the main gate just in case the kids forget to tell you until you get to the car that they need to go...

I do think some of the catering options need to be looked at, especially the drinks that are included in meal deals. We usually eat at the pasta/pizza place and the only drinks included are fizzy. DS1 won't drink anything with bubbles so they are out for him. I don't think a squash option is too much to expect!

I was disappointed at the Zufari ride. Felt it didn't live up to the hype & wont queue for it again.

I wouldl ike more information around the park about feeding times, show times etc. Some of the staff don't even seem to know.

We will be back again and again though as the boys love it (and it will be a few years until they are tall enough for Thorpe Park to be worth it).

Badvoc Mon 01-Jul-13 17:37:32

Anyone been a Xmas?
Any good?

AmandinePoulain Mon 01-Jul-13 19:46:34

We weren't testers, but we visited in May on a sunny bank holiday so it was packed!

Good: the sea lion show, Madagascar, Bubbleworks, the monorail above the animals, the mobile website with queuing times.

Bad: the toilets were grim, they were dirty, most of the soap dispensers were empty and the baby change areas are far too small. I pre booked the £5 lunch deal and regretted it - we initially went into the Mexican restaurant, sat down, got dd2 into her highchair and queued to be told that there was no vegetarian food left. Hardly any of the food outlets actually accept the prepaid vouchers so we ended up in a fried chicken place which wasn't very inspiring. Later on in the day we tried to find somewhere to eat and couldn't find anywhere open apart from a self service place that only had jam sandwiches left hmm. I was also really disappointed that there is no outside play area or water park, it would have been nice to have somewhere to let dd1 let off steam for an hour or so.

To be honest I much preferred Legoland, and Paultons. I think they cater for young children much better, and seem cleaner.

Whataloser Mon 01-Jul-13 19:55:49

Nontester - Merlin pass holders have been for a number of years (thanks to Tesco clubcard, please keep that offer up).

CWOA is the poor relation to the other Merlin parks, for some reason the clientele appear to be very poorly behaved compared to the other parks. The whole park looks like it could do with some serious investment, the rides are tired and dated. The zoo is poor compared to designated zoos such as Marwell, and has become more like an add on. We are bored at CWOA in half a day, where as at all the other parks we can keep going back for more and more.

Every year we give CWOA another chance but it's not improving.

ValentineWiggins Mon 01-Jul-13 20:29:42

Somehow despite living pretty close I've never managed to go. I think it's the fear of the crowds...although we may have to give it a go this summer as dd is a huge fan of roller coasters. I'll have to check the height requirements though as she will want to go on the big ones!

Blu Mon 01-Jul-13 21:00:29

Non-tester

What was your, and your family's, overall experience of your day at Chessington? We had a geat day. Lots of different things to do, I love the mix of animals and Sea Life and rides etc. We sat and ate our picnic lunch watching the Sea Lions.

- What did your children think about the Octonauts activities and exclusive meet and greet? DS is too old, i think.

- Did you or your family go on the new ride ZUFARI: Ride into Africa? If so what did you/your DCs think about the ride? No - not scary / thrilling enough

- What were your/your DCs highlights of the day? The Vampire Ride (went on it twice) and the log flume. Hot donuts. We wished we had seen the Pirate Shhow.

- Which, if any, attractions/ shows/ rides would you most recommend to parents with young children? Young children? The sea lions, zoo, the sky-train thingy, bubbles.

- Overall, would you recommend Chessington World of Adventures to your friends and family if it came up in conversation? If so, why? If not, why not? yes, Chessington is great. It does cater more for the younger age group though - it would benefit from a few more challenging rides so that families with young children as well as thrill-seeking pre-teens can keep them all happy.

- Do you think you'd be likely to revisit Chessington World of Adventures Resort again in the future? If so, why? If not why not? yes, it isn't too far away, it has a good range of activities. But in another 18m or so I think DS will find Chessington unsatisfactory in comparison to Thorpe Park. Which is fine.

Doobiedoobedoobie Mon 01-Jul-13 22:13:34

I've never been to chessington!

Our favourite theme park type holiday has been to paultons park in Southampton... I loved that there was so much to do with both my DDs (4years and 1 year) so we weren't having to trudge around looking fr things to do for them, there was only a few rides the lest couldn't go on, and still plenty for DD2 smile

There's also a fab zoo part there and silly things like the kiddy supermarket rides that usually cost 50p or whatever are free there. Little things like that make a huge difference as you're not constantly saying 'no' or trying to distract from things!

Other things that I always remember from trips out have been good picnicking areas for if you bring your own food, reasonably priced and good quality cooked food available and decent park/ play areas.

500internalerror Mon 01-Jul-13 23:25:11

Non tester, but we go a lot. The only bearable way is to stay overnight, so it's not such a rush to cram everything in. Not at the chessington hotel tho - way too expensive - there's a premier inn right next door!

I love the accessibility - much easier on public transport than legoland.

We love the animal show & hocus pocus hall. Bad move to lose beano land so soon before beano came back into vogue!

I detest all the extras. Secondary spend is fine if its a gift shop, but its really unfair to charge for car parks and for queue jumping. Even with bogof the entrance price is extornate, without everything else on top.

And sort out your retail discounts - we got between 10 and 30ish % discount because none if the staff seemed to know the correct % for us, & so we had to choose kiosks wisely!

tootssweet Mon 01-Jul-13 23:42:48

Tester here, just checking in. Big thank you to CWOA & Mumsnet for the VIP day, as dd said "I did feel like a VERY important person today"
Will fill out questions properly when on computer.

MsMarple Tue 02-Jul-13 00:22:43

We went most recently during half term just before our Merlin passes ran out. My ds (5) loves all the rides he is tall enough for - tomb blaster is his favourite. We loved visiting Chessington before he started school as we could go when it was quiet but now it is less attractive, as the queues were really off putting: 90 minutes wait for Zufari, which we didn't go on in the end as DS was sick of standing in line by then. He loves the Madagascar Show, and the Rah Rah lion one you did for a while last year. If there were more shows like this that you didn't have to queue for it would be good - or maybe a splash about water park place like duplo land at LEGOLAND, or a fort or something to climb and slide down.

A map that clearly showed which rides were suitable for which heights - maybe colour coded circles or something - would be handy. Maybe even a suggested route round the park?

I recommend it to all my friends with pre-schoolers, especially the deal for one parent and under 5 to get in cheaply during term time, but I would hesitate to recommend it to anyone tied to school holidays and weekends.

MsMarple Tue 02-Jul-13 00:29:40

Ooh forgot to say, the Bubbleworks feels kind of sinister, and smells nasty too. Can't you re-magic it back to the days of professor Burp? I'm thinking a magical Charlie and The Chocolate Factory type vibe would be a whole lot nicer.

firawla Tue 02-Jul-13 00:49:04

non tester. I have been but not very recently, i went before having the kids but i preferred it to thorpe park i felt the range of rides was better (i dont like the really really scary ones!) i havent been to the zoo but would like to have a look. i think it would be a nice family day out so hoping to take the dc some time soon

GetKnitted Tue 02-Jul-13 07:29:25

Favourite days out are to our local under 12s theme park, our local park and just walking anywhere. We get plenty of fun and exercise.

k8vincent Tue 02-Jul-13 08:23:13

Non tester here. We haven't been to Chessington as a family. We tried Alton Towers once but ended up with one v disappointed DS as he was just a cm too short to go on most of the rides. Agree with the comment about age restrictions rather than height restrictions on some of the rids DS1 is small for age.
I have 3 boys. They 'love' Legoland - although we've only actually been once! Am saving my Tesco vouchers for another trip. Would really like to try Chessington as DS3 is a huge Octonaut fan.
My parents bought us National Trust Membership and that has provided us with some great days out, particularly the gardens.

Blu Tue 02-Jul-13 08:47:10

I agree re Beanoland - DS loved Beanoland.

And I agree - outrageous to charge for parking.

manfalou Tue 02-Jul-13 11:59:05

non tester.

Its nice to go to a theme park that is good for little kids and adults. I wouldn't recommend going in the holidays as its always too busy and little ones don't want to queue, try and go midweek during term time to get the most out of the experience. Looking forward to join on zufari but by the looks of it from other comments it won't be yet as my almost 3 year old is very short for his age =(

Tester here thank you for a great day:

- What was your, and your family's, overall experience of your day at Chessington?

We had a great day. we were treated really well and found the whole experience really enjoyable. The only slight negatives would be that we found the map slightly misleading and difficult. Backy did a great job but the morning seemed a bit slow to get going and as such we missed the penguin show we'd really been looking forward to.

- What did your children think about the Octonauts activities and exclusive meet and greet?

My DN doesn't like the Octonauts for some strange reason so it wasn't a highlight for us but it did look good.

- Did you or your family go on the new ride ZUFARI: Ride into Africa? If so what did you/your DCs think about the ride?

We did, we all really enjoyed it and got a great view of the giraffes but DN (3.8) found the cave a little bit scary.

- What were your/your DCs highlights of the day?

Meeting the cast of Madagascar and their show. He also loved the flying jumbos and truckers.

- Which, if any, attractions/ shows/ rides would you most recommend to parents with young children?

The madagascar show, Zufari (if not likely to be scared), the zoo, truckers and flying jumbos. We agree that toadies and bubbleworks could do with freshening up.

- Overall, would you recommend Chessington World of Adventures to your friends and family if it came up in conversation? If so, why? If not, why not?

Yes I would although I'd probably tell them to go with 2 for 1 vouchers.

- Do you think you'd be likely to revisit Chessington World of Adventures Resort again in the future? If so, why? If not why not?

Yes we will be back when we can get some vouchers.

apatchylass Tue 02-Jul-13 13:19:28

Love Chessington. Only been a couple of times and were very pleasantly surprised second time round, how perfect it was for our DC's age (10 & 11.) Hard to find places that really cater for tweens but Chessington does. We went at Halloween. Very atmospheric and the animators were outstanding. Remembered my DC's names and about four hours later leapt out from a bush and shouted their names out. DC jumped.

Chessington has great attention to detail. The recent updates have massively improved the park. Loved the vampire ride, didn't dare to ride the Cobra so that's for next time.

The zoo is gorgeous too.

Suggestions

Like the poster above, I think bubbleworks desperately needs revamping. Dc asked to go on it right at the end of our day as a sort of joke nostalgia trip of their visit when they were much younger, when it had been their favourite ride. There were few bubbles; it was smelly and dirty and looked very outdated.

I'd love a bit more healthy choice for food. Prets? M&S? Leon?

eteo Tue 02-Jul-13 13:44:27

we have a fab time! This is my review: http://www.etspeaksfromhome.co.uk/2013/07/vip-day-at-chessington-world-of.html

OldBagWantsNewBag Tue 02-Jul-13 16:24:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

smokinaces Tue 02-Jul-13 17:02:14

We weren't one of the lucky ten, but we actually went yesterday of our own accord. And all praise.

sign posted well, car park good, entry easy, membership services ace. Disabled pass, made a world of difference. With an asd child the whole family was catered for and the helpers were all excellent on every ride. The food was very good and reasonable, the rides excellent. Zufari a new favourite. Sad the runaway train was out of action, and disappointed that at 119.5cm ds2 was too short for the log flume, but all in all an excellent day out we would repeat as soon as finances allow!!

AgnesBligg Tue 02-Jul-13 17:19:21

What was your, and your family's, overall experience of your day at Chessington?
We had a blast! The staff at Chessington were absolutely lovely, both at the hotel and at the park. And the VIP aspect was smashing, the brunch and lunch really well done. The kids loved the goody bag. DS is determined we are returning for a 'holiday' there. hmm smile

What did your children think about the Octonauts activities and exclusive meet and greet?
DS is 9 so predictably indifferent, whereas dd3 looked on a bit astonished at these enormous octonauts. She had no intention of meeting or greeting either of them frankly.

Did you or your family go on the new ride ZUFARI: Ride into Africa? If so what did you/your DCs think about the ride?
We liked it, though DD was horrified by the unexpected cave bit (she was right by the window in fact) but we all enjoyed seeing the animals. I thought the ride was too short and not much of a Safari. We had a fast track ticket for this so not such a long wait (12 mins or so) but normal very long queuing in such stiflingly hot weather would have left me feeling a bit peeved actually. The staff/performers were very enthusiastic and the video part was ok but rather baffling considering the rather non-Safari that was to come after,or as ds put it, the story given by the video 'call' and the actual ride was somewhat disjointed.
- What were your/your DCs highlights of the day?
I liked the safari skyway the best, a very pleasant journey high above the zoo, good to view the sea lions, gorillas and the tiger from this viewpoint. Actually the main reason for going on this was to try and spot DP who was arriving late to meet us somewhere at random. Ds loved zufari the most. DS also queued for the Vampire ride for ages and then was too frightened to go on the actual ride (a skeleton playinga piano and scary vampire pics put him off not the ride itself.) DS and I also loved sea life. Just beautiful to see these animals...DD liked the sea horses but was completely freaked by the Rays for some reason grin.

- Which, if any, attractions/ shows/ rides would you most recommend to parents with young children?
DD enjoyed the tiny truckers and loved the animals you can see at the Wanyama sp? village. She liked to see the giraffes and the zebras.

- Overall, would you recommend Chessington World of Adventures to your friends and family if it came up in conversation? If so, why? If not, why not? Yes, I'm sure I would, though as others have said so long as the tickets were discounted in some way as otherwise it is very expensive.

- Do you think you'd be likely to revisit Chessington World of Adventures Resort again in the future? If so, why? If not why not?

Oh yes I think we will return as we can stay fairly locally. I would like to see more animals especially some reptiles, DS wants to go on some roller coaster rides, DP loves to jaunt and DD wants another massive lolly.

Many thanks to Chessington and all the nice helpful people there and MN for a good day out. smile

We didnt attend the VIP event, but do go regularly as we live in London. DS (6) gets excited when we get on the train to Chessinton!

We visit lots of theme parks and Chessington is probably our favorite. Its a clean, nice looking park (lots of open spaces to escape crowds). When you have done a few rides you can escape and wander round to look at the animals. Nice contrast.

DS loves the Dragons Den soft play, which is brilliantly situated next to a large coffee shop and small theatre space where they have little shows for the kids. Great for a break in middle of the day!

The rides are good. DS loves Bubbleworks, Tomb Blaster, that haunted house (can't remember name) and feeding the Lorikeets best. Wish there were more inside rides. Bubbleworks could do with an update but DS thinks its thrilling!

Halloween is done very well there. We always go then. But our Merlin pass has now run out so I guess I'll be looking for coupons now...!

joey99 Tue 02-Jul-13 21:26:19

We went on a recent inset day and had a great time as the park was fairly quiet so we didn't spend half the day queuing. I really like the combination of Sea Life, Zoo, shows and rides. Zufari was excellent (see photo) and the Madagascar show was good. Professor Burps has been my favourite ride for decades now! In my opinion Chessington is the best theme park in the uk and I feel it caters really well for every age group. The downsides of the day were that Tombblaster obviously had issues and delays loading people on and we had to wait 30 minutes on dark steps which are usually the entrance for Fast Pass so not designed to stand around in for ages. Also Rameses revenge and a few other rides were closed the day we were there which was a shame. I did slightly object to the £2 or whatever it was parking cost after it costs a fortune anyway for the day out though shock

Firewall Wed 03-Jul-13 12:37:33

Non tester

We've never been to Chessington. Would love to go though! We enjoy going to aquariums and zoos. Our LO loves looking at different things. A great day out is going to a place where there's lots to do all day

RiaBexleyGreenwichLE Wed 03-Jul-13 16:57:35

We love going to Chessington with the family but I must say that a lot of the rides now are starting to look a bit tired. Rameses Revenge broke down whilst we were there (not the recent one where fire rescue crews came, a different time) and a few of the other rides were closed for maintenance too.

You need to advertise the height restriction for the Zoofari too - we were most disappointed to get there and a member of our group couldn't go on!

RugBugs Wed 03-Jul-13 19:59:12

Non tester but went last Tuesday with a 2.7 year old and 4 other adults.

Arrived just before opening and thankfully got a parking space very near the entrance, at 34wks pregnant with pgp the walk back was always going to be painful.
Was a very quiet day at the park and the adults were very pleasantly surprised by the rides on offer to them (we are local to Alton towers) kobra was the favourite I think. DD adored the galleon and the jungle bus, the meet and greet characters terrified her!
I don't think there is great uniformity amongst the instruments used to measure height and that in general they are generous by a few cm, I know how tall my DD is but the zufari height stick in particular made her out to be shorter than she is.
The staff on the safari skyway were awesome, same on the kobra, the banter they were having over mics with riders was great fun for those watching.

The zoo was alright (we are Chester zoo members though), DD loved the sealions, chickens and the goats. The monkey walk-through was great even if DD was more interested in the ducks!

We will definitely visit again when we're visiting family, Alton towers has a lot less to offer little ones and the midweek adult+toddler ticket is exceptional value.

MissStrawberry Wed 03-Jul-13 20:00:51

We have only been once and are undecided if will go again this summer. Definitely a once a year trip due to cost and not being special enough tbh.

Enjoyed some of the zoo, other parts not so much and felt the animals didn't have a great environment.

Needs better signs imo and also the drying machine while fun for the kids really ought to be free!

COCKadoodledooo Wed 03-Jul-13 21:52:19

- What was your, and your family's, overall experience of your day at Chessington?
We had a fantastic day, and were so grateful to have been picked! The VIP treatment was just brilliant. Had no idea we’d get goody bags (thanks, dc loved it!), or that we’d get to meet some of the animals face to face when we arrived. Ds2 has been begging us for a giant snail ever since.. Becky was great and we felt really well looked after. All staff members we spoke to were helpful and polite.

- What did your children think about the Octonauts activities and exclusive meet and greet?
Ds2 (age 3) was soooo excited to meet them (though a bit disappointed that Peso wasn’t with them as he’s his favourite!). Ds1 (9) was obviously aware it was pretend but got caught up in it too, mostly I think because his baby bro was so excited – he was far too cool to hug either of them though, but did manage a high 5 for each! The quiz trail was a bit much for ds2 I think. Ds1 thought it was great but there was too much to see and take in (and it felt a bit rushed going through the aquarium tbh) that he wasn’t really taken with it. He also loved watching it on the big screen in the Serengeti suite!

- Did you or your family go on the new ride ZUFARI: Ride into Africa? If so what did you/your DCs think about the ride?
We did go on Zufari, thanks. Even with the fastpass tickets we had to queue for quite a while (cue ds2 wailing “Oh we’re never going to get to go on the Zoo-Ferrari!” complete with sad face). Having seen the size of the normal queue, I don’t think we’d have bothered, no way you could keep a 3 year old entertained in a queue that long. Having said that, I don’t think that the size of the queue was visible from the entrance to it, and there didn’t seem to be any time indication, which is a bit, I dunno, dishonest somehow.
There was also some discrepancy in height restriction – in some places it was quoted as 1.0m, in others 1.1m. Ds2 is just over a metre and I’d have been very cross to have got to the front of the queue and been turned away. Also on this point – the walkways up to Zufari are very long (and dull – can’t see anything through that fencing), walking all the way up there with a toddler and then discovering you couldn’t ride would be very annoying – maybe they should/could put the height restriction/measurement chart at the entrance to both walkways, as well as at the actual ride.
The talk/video at the start was great, a good way to break up the queuing, and informative too. Ds2 thought the truck was “awesome” and insisted we sit at the front – he soon regretted that one as he got the wettest! It was great to go out ‘on safari’. I think the hot sunny weather definitely enhanced the experience, can imagine it being very different on a typically British grey drizzly day! Was very easy to imagine you were actually on the Savannah. I think it’ll be even better once it has been established a while and the vegetation/landscaping has settled.

- What were your/your DCs highlights of the day?
Dc’s highlight was definitely Bubbleworks! Have seen other people say it’s tired/dated or whatever but when we asked the dc what the best bit was we were told quite clearly it was getting soaked on that! They’ve never experienced a ride like it before and found it hysterical! They loved the monorail too, great for an overview of the whole park. For me I don’t think I have one particular highlight, the whole day was wonderful and seeing the boys laughing and so excited all day was just brilliant. I did love going on the carousel though – that’s about the only bit that hasn’t changed since I went for my 8th birthday 30 years ago!!

- Which, if any, attractions/ shows/ rides would you most recommend to parents with young children?
I’m not sure I’d recommend any one ride particularly, but I would recommend the fast pass. Queuing with the small one, even for the 15-20 minutes or so we had to wait for Zufari, was a bit of a nightmare – doing that or longer for every ride would be horrific!

- Overall, would you recommend Chessington World of Adventures to your friends and family if it came up in conversation? If so, why? If not, why not?
I’d definitely recommend it as a great day out – plenty to do for everyone. Many places seem to try to cater for lots of age groups and miss for everybody, but Chessington seem to have it right (*disclaimer – didn’t take any stroppy teenagers so appreciate I may be wrong on this point!).

- Do you think you'd be likely to revisit Chessington World of Adventures Resort again in the future? If so, why? If not why not?
Would love to, but really wouldn’t want to (couldn’t afford to) pay the walk up price, especially if you have to pay for fast passes on top. Sunday was all about ds2, he got to choose what we did because he was the reason we’d been picked for the day – ds1 now wants to go for a day that’s all about him (though he’ll have to find someone else to take him on the big rides because I’m too much of a wimp!).

Overall just want to say thanks again so very much for the opportunity. The boys had a whale of a time and we did too! The level of hospitality was very much appreciated and utterly uexpected!

(PS have more pics for the other review but can't upload anything atm for some reason so will try that one again tomorrow)

HomageToCannelloni Wed 03-Jul-13 23:19:40

Non tester but we love Chessington for its fab rides at the right age group for our 8 yr old and the zoo which our young DS loves. Agree with poster who preferred big name caterers where you knew what you were getting as opposed to cheaper alternatives...and as with any theme park wish there was a greater variety of truly healthy fresh foods.

tootssweet Thu 04-Jul-13 22:44:49

- What was your, and your family's, overall experience of your day at Chessington?
We had a great day overall. It was lovely to be treated and made to feel very special. The staff were really friendly and helpful - something which our dd commented on about how welcome she was made to feel.
We were able to split up and do age-appropriate activities with our two (age 8 &2) DD (8) has no fear and loved the rides. It was great that she was able to pick from so many and now wants to go back to go on the ones she missed. DS (2) loved the Tiny Truckers ride, especially as we didn't have to queue thanks to the fast-track tickets. We were able to do a few things together as well, such as sky safari, bubbleworks and the jumbos rides.

- What did your children think about the Octonauts activities and exclusive meet and greet?
Sadly due to the timings of the day my ds fell asleep during the exclusive meet and greet and because we had spent so much time elsewhere he completely missed meeting the Octonauts, which I was quite sad about. However he wasn't aware so wasn't upset - we did get told that we couldn't do the Madagascar meet & greet either as the queue was too long - that did upset him. We had got to the hotel early so were lucky to meet King Julien there when he did a breakfast meet.
DD was initially very sceptical of the Octonauts trail but it did keep her occupied through the Sealife centre and she gave her sticker to her brother as the trail went over his head

- Did you or your family go on the new ride ZUFARI: Ride into Africa? If so what did you/your DCs think about the ride?
We didn't go on it as DS was too small. Would have liked to.

- What were your/your DCs highlights of the day?
DD loved going on the Vampire ride and talked about it for the whole of the journey home (when she wasn't fast asleep after such a full day!) DS really enjoyed the Sky Safari train, the Madagascar show but mostly the trucks. Think the Octonauts would have been a hit if he had his eyes open! For DP and I it was lovely being treated as a VIP and taking our children to something we would struggle to afford at the moment.

- Which, if any, attractions/ shows/ rides would you most recommend to parents with young children?
Sky Safari, Tiny Truckers, Dragon World. Though it would be good if the map could highlight age suitability and if signage could be a bit clearer - I did get lost a lot and I don't think my map reading skills are too bad

- Overall, would you recommend Chessington World of Adventures to your friends and family if it came up in conversation? If so, why? If not, why not?
Yes! We had a great time. We loved the mix of zoo/animals and thrill rides. The DC's loved meeting the animals and DD has asked if she can feed the giraffes for her birthday next year (instead of a party - so thank you Chessington, I think we will start saving!)

- Do you think you'd be likely to revisit Chessington World of Adventures Resort again in the future? If so, why? If not why not?
See above! But yes we would visit again - will look out for offers to make it that bit more affordable especially when you have to factor in travel & accommodation costs.

sammie1884 Thu 04-Jul-13 23:43:10

You can read my blog post all about the day here...

http://www.oneblueonepink.com/2013/07/our-vip-day-at-chessington-world-of.html

But just to reiterate I will answer the questions too.....

What was your, and your family's, overall experience of your day at Chessington? Overall we had a good day, the staff were great, the rides we did get to go on were good and the hospitality was lovely. Thank you. However a few things did put a dampner on the day, the main one being the meltdowns the children had caused by the fair ground type pay for games and the grab machines. Some of the rides were a bit tired and not working properly and the map was a bit too busy so made it hard to follow. I feel that sections or age groups dividers would be better.

- What did your children think about the Octonauts activities and exclusive meet and greet? LOVED it, the look on their faces was amazing, it was infact a big highlight of the day!

- Did you or your family go on the new ride ZUFARI: Ride into Africa? If so what did you/your DCs think about the ride? DD was just too short for this but DS and I went on and DS thought it was great, I thought it was good, for a british theme park (I have been to the real deal of this ride in AK Florida)

- What were your/your DCs highlights of the day? - Octonauts, bubble works, madagascar show, seeing the animals in the zoo

- Which, if any, attractions/ shows/ rides would you most recommend to parents with young children? Bubble Works, Elephants, jungle bouncers, Zoo, Sea life, Madagascar show, octonauts meet and greet.

- Overall, would you recommend Chessington World of Adventures to your friends and family if it came up in conversation? If so, why? If not, why not? Yes I would, my children are 4 and 17 months and there was plenty for them to do. I would however warn them about the added extra costs.

- Do you think you'd be likely to revisit Chessington World of Adventures Resort again in the future? If so, why? If not why not? Yes we would, after seeing the hotel and how lovely it is we are considering a stay so that we have time to fit everything in! I would only ever buy tickets on offer though as I think on the gate price is extortionate.

stephgr Sat 06-Jul-13 01:58:12

Not a VIP and haven't been to Chessington - yet!
We really like Woburn Safari Park and Willows Farm because of the animals, simple activities and rides. We went to LEGOLAND last year which the children loved and Chessington is on the list. Personally I'd be happy just to have a picnic and play games but the children have way too much energy!

glitch Sun 07-Jul-13 09:12:59

I have taken my DS (7) several times to CWOA.
We love the zoo and the sealife centre and feeding the birds nectar. We always have a good time and fill our day completely.

The rides are a good mix (and I love the quirkiness of some like hocus pocus and bubbleworks) but some are aimed a little old.
The park seems a little shabby in places and the layout is a bit odd, it doesn't seem to flow as well as somewhere like Legoland, with bits tucked away.
The car park track is awful. Surely if you are paying for parking some of the money could go towards filling the potholes.

justtired Sun 07-Jul-13 23:33:57

I was lucky enough to be a tester, thankyou again Mumsnet and Chessington, we had an amazing day!! My 6yr old gave it 100 out of 10!!

What was your, and your family's, overall experience of your day at Chessington?
We had a brilliant day, none of us have been before and were overwhelmed with the amount of brilliant stuff there was too do. The VIP treatment was brilliant also.

- What did your children think about the Octonauts activities and exclusive meet and greet?
My boys were so excited to meet the Octonauts, especially as there has not been a chance to do this anywhere else before. All the way there, they were saying 'we are going to meet the Octonauts'. When they arrived, I think they were overwhelmed, they were just grinning from ear to ear!

- Did you or your family go on the new ride ZUFARI: Ride into Africa? If so what did you/your DCs think about the ride?
me and my 6yr old DS went on as my younger DS is too small. It was quite misleading as we went through the first gate and there was nobody there so we thought it wasn't very busy, however there was a massive queue down the bottom, in all fairness there was a screen telling you how long the wait was and it was accurate. I think there should be more shade whilst waiting in the queue, especially when its a long wait and on a hot day. You would do well to have some refreshments for sale down there too, I think that would do really well As for the actual ride, is was lovely to see the animals up close and my son thought it was great being really naughty and ignoring the man and going in the cave, it was also a good point of reminding everyone that you may not see all the animals. However I think there should be some mention of getting wet before you get on the ride as we sat on the outside we did get quite wet, and I was surprised the ride was over so quickly, for that amount of queuing I would hope for a little bit of a longer ride.

- What were your/your DCs highlights of the day?
Both the boys absolutely loved the bubble world ride, it was one of the only things that was suitable for both age groups and not to sedate or scary (me and my DP loved it too!)
Also meeting the Octonauts as it was so unique.

- Which, if any, attractions/ shows/ rides would you most recommend to parents with young children?
The toadies cars and the other cars were brill as the little kids felt that they were driving us around for a change, the bubbleworks was also really good for the younger ones.

- Overall, would you recommend Chessington World of Adventures to your friends and family if it came up in conversation? If so, why? If not, why not?
Yes I would, and already have!! I think its a brilliant day out with something for everyone. Its great for rides and animals and has some really unique attractions.

- Do you think you'd be likely to revisit Chessington World of Adventures Resort again in the future? If so, why? If not why not?
Yes definitely. The one bad thing about Sunday was we only got about 4 1/2 hours in the park, and we were rushing to try and do everything that was on offer so we want to go back and do all the things we missed.
I would like to add two little complaint. We purchased a twisted yard of slush puppy (not the free refills one) from a stall near to the Madagascar live stage, it said it did refills for £1.50 and it did lots of flavours. We went back about an hour later and it was closed. The lady was still stood there and I asked her where I could get a refill from and she told me to go to the Market Square, we walked around for ages and couldn't find anywhere that would refill it, that was quite annoying and really ate into our time. The other thing was that we took our 2yr old to the Hocus Pocus hall and he was terrified!!! I think there should be a notice to say it may not be suitable for some youngsters.

As for the idea for the map, it sounds a god idea. I think the main things to highlight on there is toilets with baby change, places to get a drink and something to eat, and also highlight the rides that are accessible to young ones, as this was quite muddled and difficult to work out on the map we were given.

All in all we have a fantastic day. All the staff were happy and helpful and we will definitely be back!

cocoplops Wed 10-Jul-13 22:12:39

Non tester here!

We last went for a birthday treat for my son when he was rising 5, the summer before he started school. Blissfully in busy midweek! I think it's got a good range of rides, possibly not quite the range of legoland but pretty good. The zoo part is great too which is much better than other theme parks where it seems you're either on a ride or queuing. I liked the fact that it was a good mix of activities. Would definitely go back again.

My earliest memories of chessington are from the 80s when growing up near there and my best friend and several other people from my school working/dossing around there!!! Not sure I would've wanted to eat the burgers they flipped/dropped but I'm sure standards are much better now!!!

aristocat Wed 10-Jul-13 22:18:07

Non tester here. We also love Theme Parks and Chessington was great. My DCs liked the Pirate Ship (B Buccaneer), the Zoo/Animals, the Madagascar show and Dragons Fury the best.

I think that the map should show where the lockers are (also more than one set please) Often we like to take our own lunch and this can be stored until we need it.

BTW Merlin passes are so worth the £££.

cassell Fri 12-Jul-13 13:56:33

Non tester - went this week with ds1 (4.3) on the parent & preschooler deal.

- What was your, and your family's, overall experience of your day at Chessington?

Really enjoyed it. Exceeded my expectations - I had thought it would be crowded and unpleasant but actually it wasn't too busy (rarely waited more than 5mins for a ride - although we didn't go on any of the big ones as ds1 is too small), there's a good range of rides and things to see, the staff were universally friendly and helpful even when stopped to ask for directions when they were obviously hurrying somewhere they still took the time to answer and point us in the right direction.

- What did your children think about the Octonauts activities and exclusive meet and greet? NA - we did see the Madagascar thing but ds1 was too shy to go up to them.

- Did you or your family go on the new ride ZUFARI: Ride into Africa? If so what did you/your DCs think about the ride?

Yes we did go. Ds1 didn't like the cave bit at all and came out crying and saying he never ever again ever wanted to go on it. I liked seeing the animals in close proxmity but the cave bit was pointless - it seemed to have been added purely to make it more like a 'theme park' ride rather than a safari and didn't add to the enjoyment of the ride at all (and scared ds1).

- What were your/your DCs highlights of the day?

His favourite rides were the flying jumbos, jungle bus and jungle bouncers. My highlight was seeing the look of sheer enjoyment and excitement on his face on the first time round on the jungle bus (he insisted we went on it a further 3 times)

- Which, if any, attractions/ shows/ rides would you most recommend to parents with young children?

Definitely the flying jumbos most - Ds1 loved the ability to control the 'flying' and I think it's one that would be enjoyed by all as it's not 'scary'.

- Overall, would you recommend Chessington World of Adventures to your friends and family if it came up in conversation? If so, why? If not, why not?

Yes definitely - although I would advise the parent/preschooler deal or using tesco vouchers as I do think it's v expensive otherwise. I'd recommend it because it's got a good range of attractions for younger (3-12) children as well as the zoo/aquarium for those not into rides. I'd also recommend going weekdays outside school holidays as it being quieter was good especially with a small children who doesn't understand queuing.

- Do you think you'd be likely to revisit Chessington World of Adventures Resort again in the future? If so, why? If not why not?

Yes definitely for reason above - nice day out for ds1 and enjoyable (as these things go!) for parents too.

JaquelineHyde Fri 12-Jul-13 17:57:03

Oooh, well I am shocked!

I never realised Chessington had so much for families to do. I last went there before I had children and loved it because I am a theme park junkie.

Since having dc's I haven't been to a single theme park as I didn't think they were suitable for young children, as they wouldn't be tall enough for most of the rides.

Reading this thread I have realised how amazingly wrong I have been and am now planning a trip to Chessington over the holidays.

I can't wait grin

I've lived down the road from CWOA all my life and I never knew about the pushchair passes. Will be getting one asap.

woodchuck Fri 12-Jul-13 22:20:16

Non-tester, although we have been twice and stayed in the themed hotel next to the park both times (long drive from the North east! ). The first time we went was a very hot Easter weekend and we spent a couple of days/nights there so we could do london as well. We loved seeing the animals, found the hotel very comfortable and thought there was a good selection of rides for all the family, unlike Alton Towers which is very big kid/grown up oriented.

We went again last year and found oyur visit fairly disappointing. The hotel didn't seem as well maintained as previously, the queues were long, long, long and I had difficulty comprehending that some peopl had paid for express passes on top of the (not all that cheap) entrance fee.The rides were still good although some looked a bit shabby. there was a new live show 'Madagascar' which seemed to have no theme and was a bit pants. We really enjoyed the Sea Life bit.

I also witnessed a scene where a couple accompanying a disabled guest felt, for whatever reason, that they had been mistreated. They proceeded to yell racial slurs at passing families (no connection!) and were not challenged at all by the staff. i know this can happen anywhere, but hey ho...

I must qualify my review by explaining that we had returned from WDW Florida 2 months before, and I do believe this may have coloured my views over what a theme park should be. Mostly i did tutting and said 'Well, it's not Disney' under my breath frequently.

HystericalParoxysm Sat 13-Jul-13 12:02:58

Non tester here, but we have visited twice this season. Please, please could you improve facilities for disabled visitors. My DD is a full time wheelchair user and cannot walk unaided. A few years ago we used to be able to go on pretty much anything as long as we had enough carers to accompany her and we took responsibility for lifting etc. Now there is very little that we can use. The best rides for children with sensory impairments (Bubbleworks, Tomb Blaster, log flume etc) we are no longer allowed on at all. The sky train is hugely inaccessible due to all the steps. The little rides we did go on (sea storm, the Ferris wheel one, jumbos), the ride hosts were not particularly considerate and stopped the ride when we were a long way from our starting point, meaning I had to carry heavy DD much further than necessary. We used to be able to use the first aid centre for changing DD but now there is very little privacy offered in there -even with the screens- so we can't. One properly accessible toilet would be hugely beneficial. By properly accessible I mean with a changing bench and hoist, not a few grab rails. See the Changing Places toilets website for details.

MichelleMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 16-Jul-13 16:44:50

Hi everyone - thank you for your thoughts, the thread is now closed. I'm pleased to announce that KvassInTheNight is the winner!

thank you! Am really really pleased! <does a gwyneth all over the thread>

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