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Chessington World of Adventures
Location Chessington, Surrey, England
Website www.chessington.com
Owner Merlin Entertainments
General Manager David Smith
Opened 7 June 1987
Previous names Chessington Zoo
Operating season Theme park: March - November. Zoo: January - December
Rides 27 total
  • 4 roller coasters
  • 2 water rides
Slogan Britain's Wildest Adventure!

Chessington World of Adventures is a theme park and zoo in south-west London, England. It lies 12 miles from Central London, close to the A3 and M25 (junction 9 or 10). Historically opening as a Zoo in 1931, a theme park was developed alongside it, opening in 1987.

Contents

Background

In 1984 Madame Tussauds Ltd., (later to become the Tussauds Group Ltd.) who owned Chessington Zoo decided the ailing attraction, which was suffering declining visitor numbers, needed a radical make-over to restore its fortunes. Their Director of Development, Ray Barratt, commissioned John Wardley to formulate a set of proposals to revitalize the asset. The Pearson Group (the parent company of Tussauds) backed the scheme, and a planning application was submitted to the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames.

This plan included a monorail, runaway train, logflume and dark ride (all supplied by the German ride manufacturer Heinrich Mack GmbH & Co), all of which were to operate on a pay-one-price admission basis, and replace the existing pay-as-you-go fairground rides. The monorail opened in 1986 to give the visitors a foretaste of the new attraction, and the new "Chessington World of Adventures" opened in 1987. The attractions were heavily themed and decorated, and as a consequence Chessington World of Adventures became Britain's first true theme park.

The park currently has a selection of attractions, ranging from the brand new Kobra thrill ride in Wild Asia, to family-oriented rides such as the Bubbleworks. It also has over 1,000 animals, many of which can be seen from the Safari Skyway, an elevated monorail around the Zoo. Since 1998 Chessington has been in the same ownership as nearby Thorpe Park, and since 2007, Legoland Windsor.[1] Recent changes in direction have stunted the growth of the park; however, infrastructure is currently being fully refurbished to prepare for an exciting relaunch in 2010.

Park guide

The park is split into ten lands, each with its own individual theming and rides.

Chessington Zoo

A view of the sealions from the Safari Skyway, August 2006.

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. In the spring of 2009, a gorilla baby was born which the park celebrated and named Mbula. The east side contains various 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, home to goats, pigs, sheep and chicken enabling young visitors to get in with the animals to feed them.

Chessington Zoo also has an area called Sealion Bay, which features sealion presentations several times a day and Creepy Caves, a reptile house. Zoo keepers on site care for the animals, many of which are endangered, and there is an active breeding programme. In March 2009, one of the park most respected animals, Boris (a sea lion), died aged 28 (over 100 in human years) having fathered over 40 pups.

In 2008, a Sea Life Centre opened on the site of the previous children's zoo, which was later relocated. It is home to various tanks containing British and tropical fish. The centrepiece of the exhibit is a glass walk-through tunnel home to sharks, rays and various tropical fish. In 2009, a new exhibition called "Amazonia" was added to the Sealife Centre featuring piranhas. Though it was originally built as a temporary building, an application was submitted in 2010 to make the Sea Life centre permanent.

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.[2] Planning applications have since been released to build a bigger building for the gorillas, expected to be opened in 2010.

Wild Asia

Beanoland, an old area based on the Beano comic, closed at the end of 2009 when the contract with the theme park ran out. Chessington released plans to build a new themed land with a jungle/ancient setting. Construction started in the 2009 closed season, with some of the old rides being relocated around the area to make more space for a new ride. Named 'Wild Asia', the land will include a new Zamperla Disk-O Coaster, called the Kobra, and all the rides previously found in Beanland but re-themed. Construction updates and concept art have shown the high level of detail in the area's theming.

The Kobra features a large snake head statue at one end, giving the ride its name, as riders spin in a circular ride car along 90m of track at 43 mph. The ride model also includes an airtime hill in the centre of the track, and is only the second model of its type in Britain.

Lorikeet Lagoon is also a new attraction in Wild Asia. It is a walk through aviary allowing guests to come up close to the birds, and hand feed nectar to the creatures. It will open as part of Chessington's plan to bring the zoo into the theme park more, instead of having separate animal areas.

David Smith, a manager and 'Chief Explorer' of Chessington World of Adventures, stated: "The launch of Wild Asia perfectly complements the other worlds within the park and we can’t wait to challenge families to take on the Kobra! 2010 is a very big year for Chessington and this new land is just the beginning of Britain's Wildest Adventure." The land was advertised online with a promotional minisite. Wild Asia will open in March 2010; the theme park's latest major investment for six years.

Attraction Suitable for Height range Notes
KOBRA Family Minimum height 1.2m New for 2010 - Disk-O Coaster ride
Jungle Bus Family Minimum height 0.9m (Previously Bash Street Bus)
Monkey Swinger Family Minimum height 1.2m (Previously Billy's Whizzer)
Temple of Mayhem Young Adventurers Maximum height 1.4m (Previously Dennis' Madhouse)
Tuk Tuk Turmoil Dodgems Family Minimum height 0.9m (Previously Roger the Dodger's Dodgems)
Lorikeet Lagoon Family NEW for 2010 - Hand feed nectar to the lorikeets.

Forbidden Kingdom

Themed around Ancient Egypt, this area is home to two rides. Tomb Blaster is an interactive laser-shooting attraction themed as an adventure into a historic tomb, with many large effects such as re-animated mummies, scarab beetles and a giant snake. Rameses Revenge, is a Huss Rides top-spin, which is built into the ground. For 2009, the Casbah Cafe in Forbidden Kingdom was replaced with a 'Fried Chicken Co.' restaurant, themed around ancient Egypt.

Attraction Suitable for Height range Notes
Rameses Revenge Thrill seekers 1.4m – 1.96m Any guests with a torso approaching 51 inches or more, may not be able to ride.
Tomb Blaster Family Any guests under 1.1m must be accompanied by an adult.
Outlet Speciality Notes
Fried Chicken Co. Chicken Open every day of season.
Rameses Vault Amusement Centre Arcade Open every day of season.
Forbidden Ices Ice cream Outlet open on peak days only.

Land of the Dragons

Land of the Dragons opened in 2004 and is a self contained, dragon-themed land containing a variety of low thrilling rides and attractions. One of the theme park's major rides, a spinning roller coaster, Dragon's Fury - manufactured by Maurer Söhne, has its entrance situated just outside the Land of the Dragons. Riders sit in free-spinning cars that travel around the whole area with a thrilling layout.

There are two large play areas in the main section for young visitors: "Dragon's Playhouse", a large soft play area; and adjacent to this is "Canopy Capers", an outdoor treehouse rope bridge attraction.

Also accompanying these attractions are 'Sea Dragons', a small round ride; 'Griffin's Galleon', a rocking tug spinning ship; and a small water fountain which squirts on passing guests, named 'Sir Walter Squirtalot'.

In the "Dragons Tale Theatre", live action puppet shows are performed daily. In 2009 there were two shows, entitled 'Spike on Safari' and 'Spike and the Missing Griffin'. The area's mascot 'Spike' and his friend 'Cinders' feature in these shows.

Attraction Suitable for Height range Notes
Dragon's Fury Family Min 1.2m Any guests 1.95m may not be able to fit into the car.
Griffin's Galleon Children Min 0.9m Any guests between 0.9m and 1.1m must be accompanied by an adult.
Canopy Capers Children Max 1.4m Young Adventurers can be accompanied by an adult.
Sea Dragons Young children Min 0.9m Any guests under 1.1m must be accompanied by an adult.
Dragon's Tale Theatre Young children Spike on Safari shows at 11am, 1pm; Spike and the Missing Griffin shows at 2.30pm and 4pm. A 'meet and greet' session is available at preset times near the entrance to "Land of the Dragons"
Dragon's Playhouse Young children Max 1.4m
Outlet Speciality Notes
Cafe Nero Coffee shop Open from 10am every day of season, in the Dragons' Tale theatre

Market Square

Market Square is the central area of the park and home to shops, video arcades and food stalls. Outlets include a doughnut stall and the park's main shop. The land also contains the entrance to Safari Skyway, a monorail that opened in 1987 offering a guided tour of the zoo, lawn and mansion area. Hocus Pocus Hall was added to Market Square in 2003, situated in part of the Burnt Stub Mansion itself. It is an indoor walkthrough experience themed as a wizard's house overun with goblins. Visitors wear 3D glasses, giving a more exciting feel to the attraction. The area also contains lockers, the Chessington Shop, the Sweet Shop, the Ice Cream & Milkshake outlet, Market Square Donuts and Guest Services. The area is themed around a traditional English market square, complete with a gateway themed as a castle, a water wheel and a courtyard restaurant, Market Square Pizza Pasta Restaurant. There is also a large pub called the Greedy Goblin, the only outlet in park to sell cigarettes and alcohol.

Outlet Speciality Opening time Notes
Market Square Donuts Fresh hot doughnuts and ice cream 10am Outlet open every day of season.
Chessington Shop Chessington merchandise 10am Outlet open every day of season.
Sweet Shop Sweets and confectionery 10am Outlet open every day of season.
Ice Cream Factory Ice cream and thick milkshakes 10am Outlet open Peak Days of Season.
Pizza and Pasta Pizza and pasta buffet 11:30am Outlet open every day of season.
Greedy Goblin Food and drink 10am Outlet is open every day of season.
Attraction Suitable for Height range Notes
Hocus Pocus Hall Young Adventurers Max 1.4m Any guests over 1.4m must be accompanied by a guest under 1.4m.
Safari Skyway Families 1.1m – 1.96m Any guests under 1.1m must be accompanied by an adult.

Mexicana

Themed on a Mexican and Far West environment, Mexicana is home to two rollercoasters. Rattlesnake (built in 1998), a steel wild-mouse, is the main roller coaster in the area, with a supporting roller coaster, the Runaway Train. This is a powered roller coaster made by Mack, which features fast turns and close proximity to theming. The train completes a number of circuits each time. Western Portraits is also located in Mexicana.

Attraction Suitable for Height range Notes
Rattlesnake Thrill seekers 1.4m – 1.96m Any guests with a torso approaching 51 inches or more may not be able to ride.
Runaway Train Family 0.9m – 1.96m Any guests between 0.9m and 1.1m must be accompanied by an adult.
Any guests with a torso approaching 51 inches or more may not be able to ride.
Outlet Speciality Opening time Notes
Mexican Diner Food and drink 10am Outlet only open on weekends and peak days.

Mystic East

Mystic East is an oriental-themed area. It is home to the expansive Dragon Falls log flume. The ride, opened in 1987, takes riders around "Mystic East" and features two drops. The first drop takes visitors inside the mouth of a dragon, with the second drop entering the area outside "Peeking Heights". Much of the ride's themeing is based on real-world monuments, including Angkor Wat, the Great Buddha of Kōtoku-in, and the Merlion of Singapore's harbour, although the park's renditions have a slightly caricatured look, particularly the Buddha.

"Peeking Heights", a 25m high 18 pod Observation Wheel is also in "Mystic East", situated next to the second "Dragon Falls" drop. The ride gives a panoramic view of the park, surrounding area, and up to 30 miles into London on clear days.

There are also many shops in Mystic East including the "Dragon's Lair" shop, and "Panning for Gold" games unit.

Attraction Suitable for Height range Notes
Dragon Falls Thrill seekers and Young Adventurers Min 0.9m Any guests between 0.9m and 1.1m must be accompanied by an adult.
Runaway Train Family Min 1.1m Any guests under 1.1m must be accompanied by an adult.
Outlet Speciality Opening time Notes
Dragon's Lair Merchandise and confectionery 10am Outlet only open on peak days.
Oriental Express Food and drink 10am Outlet only open on peak days.

Pirates Cove

Pirates Cove is a land adjacent to "Transylvania", home to the Black Buccaneer, a swinging pirate ship installed in 1988 and manufactured by Huss Rides, and also Seastorm, a small circular ride manufactured by Mack, where riders sit in small boats that spin up and down as they are rotated round.

Pirates Cove is also home to several games units combined together to be called "Treasure Chest".

Attraction Suitable for Height range Notes
Black Buccaneer Thrill seekers and Young Adventurers Min 0.9m Any guests between 0.9m and 1.1m must be accompanied by an adult.
Seastorm Family Min 0.9m Any guests between 0.9m and 1.1m must be accompanied by an adult.
Outlet Speciality Opening time Notes
Chips Ahoy Fish and chips 10am Outlet only open on peak days.

Toytown

Toytown, situated in the centre of the park, adjacent to Market Square. It is home to a number of gentle rides for young adventurers.

The rides include the Carousel, Flying Jumbos and the Berry Bouncers, Tiny Truckers, Toadie's Crazy Cars.

The area also contains a small Smarties Castle shop, a large pond and an interactive weather house.

Attraction Suitable for Notes
Carousel Family Any guests under 1.3m must be accompanied by an adult.
Tiny Truckers Family Any guests under 1.1m must be accompanied by an adult.
Toadie's Crazy Cars Family Any guests under 1.0m must be accompanied by an adult.
Flying Jumbos Family Any guests under 1.1m must be accompanied by an adult.
Berry Bouncers Family Minimum 0.9m. Any guests under 1.1m must be accompanied by an adult.
Outlet Speciality Opening time Notes
Smarties Castle Confectionery 10am Outlet only open on peak days.
Cafe Nero Coffee shop 10am Outlet only open on peak days.
Toybox Shop Merchandise and confectionery 10am Outlet only open on peak days.

Transylvania

Transylvania is home to two rides. The main ride in this area is the Vampire. Featuring two lift hills and tight corners, this roller coaster uses suspended swinging cars as it glides round the track. The ride has a relatively low height restriction of 1.1m (guests between 1.1m and 1.3m must be accompanied by an adult) and reaches a maximum speed of 45 mph. It is also well themed in its station and queue-line area, with cobwebs, gravestones and an animated organist.

The second ride in this land is the Bubbleworks. As a popular dark ride, boats takes you upon a tour of a wild bubble factory. You can see the several stages of the production, from the initial idea to the development and experiments, as well as the factory workers getting up to mischief. The ride was previously based around a fizzy pop factory run by the zany Professor Burp character, but received a re-theme at the end of 2005. Although the new ride has received criticism for merely being an advertisement for the Imperial Leather brand, who sponsored the ride from 2006–2010, it is still a fun ride for families.

Attraction Suitable for Height range Notes
Vampire Thrill seekers and Young Adventurers 1.1m – 1.96m Any guests between 1.1m and 1.3m must be accompanied by an adult.
Bubbleworks Family Any guests below 1.1m must be accompanied by an adult.
Outlet Speciality Opening time Notes
Burger King Fast food 10am Outlet open every day of season.
Fangtasia Merchandise and confectionery 10am Outlet open every day of season.
Refresh Food and drink 10am Outlet open every day of season.

Hotel

There is a 150-bedroom Holiday Inn on site, which opened in 2007. The hotel decor is inspired by African safari and various hotel packages are available to combine with the theme park, and other local Merlin attractions such as Thorpe Park, Alton Towers and Legoland Windsor

Past rides

  • 'The Fifth Dimension', a dark ride based around the story of a TV repair robot named Zappomatic defeating The Gorg - an evil creature that had crashed the television system, was closed at the end of the 1993 season. A total revamp of this ride saw the creation of 'Terror Tomb' (later 'Forbidden Tomb') which told the story of a tomb raider called Abdab on the search for a cursed emerald.

"Terror Tomb" was closed after some years of operation and revamped into "Tomb Blaster", which uses much of the same themeing and effects from the "Terror Tomb", but the story about Abdab was removed and laser guns were added. In addition, the scene showing skeletons playing electric guitars was taken away and replaced with a giant snake. The same track has been used throughout the ride's various iterations.

  • "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, was considered a safety risk.
  • "Magic Carpet" was closed and left the park at the end of the 1998 season. In its place the following season was the 'Samurai', which was moved to Thorpe Park in 2004 and replaced with Peeking Heights in 2005.
  • The "Fun City Show" (a circus/stunt show) 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' (a very small children's coaster) left the park at the end of the 2000 season to make way for the new "Berry Bouncers" ride which took its place in 2001.
  • "Action Man Critical Mission", a kids' adventure playground type attraction, was demolished during summer 2003 to make way for the "Land of the Dragons area", new for 2004.
  • "Samurai" moved to Thorpe Park at the end of the 2003 season, this was a key factor in changing the target audience.
  • The "Rodeo" spinning ride closed at the end of the 2004 season, but was left SBNO (standing but not operating) until 2007 when most of the ride was removed. However, the model cowboy holding a lasso and the foundations from the ride's base can still be seen from the top of the nearby Runaway Train roller coaster, with all ride foundations, queue line and control box still in good condition. Originally located in 'Circus Land', under the name of 'The Juggler', it was a HUSS Breakdance.
  • "Beanoland" was an area themed around The Beano comic. It opened in 2000 and closed 10 years later. The area will be rethemed and redeveloped for the 2010 season.

Opening times and events

The Park is open between March and October, opening at 10am, and closing at varying times during the season (5pm offpeak, 6pm peak, and 8pm Halloween). [1]

During October, the park hosts a "Halloween Hocus Pocus" event with the park closing late at 8pm. During this event pumpkins, skeltons, cobwebs and witch characters can be found in the park. In 2009, a brand new 'scare attraction' will be introduced for this event. Unlike Thorpe Park and Alton Towers' Halloween scare attractions, the 'Black Forest haunt' will be suitable for children.

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.

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.[3]

See also

References

  1. ^ "More about Thorpe Park - Three decades of thrills". http://www.thorpepark-jobs.com/about_us/more/. Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  2. ^ "News report on gorilla enclosure". BBC News. 2007-04-12. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/6550235.stm. Retrieved 2009-07-17. 
  3. ^ "Ice Age Adventure attraction". http://www.chessington.com/plan_your_trip/whats_coming_up.asp. Retrieved 2009-07-17. 

External link

Coordinates: 51°20′55″N 0°19′00″W / 51.34861°N 0.3166667°W / 51.34861; -0.3166667


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