Chessington World of Adventures
|Slogan||Britain's Wildest Adventure!|
|Location||Chessington, Greater London, England|
|Owner||Merlin Entertainments Group|
|General Manager||Tim Harrison-Jones
|Opened||1931/6 July 1987 (as theme park)|
|Previous names||Chessington Zoo, Chessington World of Adventures & Zoo|
|Operating season||Theme Park:
|Visitors per annum||1.670 million (2016)|
Sea Life Centre
Chessington World of Adventures Resort is a theme park, zoo and hotel complex that lies 12 miles (19 km) southwest of Central London, England in the Chessington area of the Kingston upon Thames borough. Historically opened as Chessington Zoo in 1931, a theme park was developed by The Tussauds Group alongside the zoo, opening on 7 July 1987, as one of the first themed amusement parks in Britain. The park was inherited by Merlin Entertainments after the buyout of Tussauds in 2007. Under Merlin, Chessington has been increasingly developed into a resort tourist destination, including two on-site hotels, a high ropes course and camp site.
Chessington Zoo has over 1,000 animals, including western lowland gorillas, sea lions, and Sumatran tigers. It is split up into several areas: Trail of the Kings, Sealion Bay, Children's Zoo, Amazu, Penguin Bay and the Wanyama Village & Reserve as well as a Sea Life Centre.
Chessington World of Adventures theme park consists of themed areas styled on a range of world cultures. It currently has 10 discrete areas including the Adventure Point, Mystic East, Mexicana, Pirates' Cove, Wild Woods, and Forbidden Kingdom. Land of the Dragons opened in 2004 for children although it includes the intense spinning coaster Dragon's Fury, and in 2010 Wild Asia replaced the area known as Beanoland. Major attractions include: Dragon Falls, Vampire, The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure, Rameses Revenge, Dragon's Fury, KOBRA and Scorpion Express
- 1 History
- 2 Events
- 3 Rides and attractions
- 4 Theme Park
- 5 Chessington Zoo
- 6 Resort Hotels & Accommodation
- 7 Future developments
- 8 2014 court case
- 9 Green belt restrictions
- 10 Gallery
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 External links
The mansion at Chessington World of Adventures Resort known today as the Burnt Stub was originally built in 1348, in Chessington, Surrey. In the English Civil War it became a royalist stronghold, and Oliver Cromwell's Parliamentary forces razed it to the ground. The Burnt Stub site was rebuilt as an inn, until the 18th century, when the Vere Barker family rebuilt it in neo-gothic Victorian style.
Founding of zoo
The resort has its roots in the Chessington Zoo, which opened in 1931; it was started by Reginald Goddard, who had bought the estate to showcase his private collection of animals. In 1946 when Goddard died, the Pearson Publishing Company took over the zoo and managed it until 1978, when The Tussauds Group took control of the park (Tussauds was a subsidiary of the Pearson Group).
Founding of theme park
In 1984, due to the zoo's declining attendance, Tussauds's Director of Development, Ray Barratt commissioned John Wardley to come up with plans to revitalize the park. John Wardley was one of the main designers at Tussaud's for a number of years, and had a huge influence on the rides being created at both Chessington and its sister parks Thorpe Park and Alton Towers. The decision was made to open a theme park to complement the zoo, and so Chessington World of Adventures was born. On 7 July 1987 Chessington World of Adventures opened to the public. The park was built on a relatively small budget of around £12 million, to test the still-emerging market.
In its first year, the park opened with the roller coaster Runaway Mine Train, the log flume Dragon River, the monorail Safari Skyway, the dark ride The 5th Dimension, and the Chessington Railroad as the main attractions (all supplied by the German ride manufacturer Heinrich Mack GmbH & Co). The new rides were to operate on a pay-one-price admission basis, and replace the existing pay-as-you-go fairground rides. Other support rides were also opened, and the park opened just five themed areas: Calamity Canyon, Mystic East, Market Square, Toy Town and Circus World. The attractions were all heavily themed with emphasis on atmosphere and effects, making Chessington one of the first true theme parks in Britain.
The 1990 season bought two of Chessington's more popular rides with the opening of Transylvania: Vampire and Professor Burp's Bubbleworks. Both of these rides had significant impact on the park, and are still exceedingly popular today. Opening Transylvania cost around £10 million. By this time Smugglers' Galleon and the Smugglers' Cove area had been created, both opening in 1988.
The 1995 season arrived with the intense Rameses Revenge, the park's first inverting ride. Rameses Revenge was new in the Forbidden Kingdom area; an area which had opened the previous year, bringing the Terror Tomb dark ride in replacement of the 5th Dimension. Also new for 1995 was SeaStorm in Pirates' Cove, and the Carousel, located next to the explorer gate. In 1999, Chessington opened the hardcore thrill ride Samurai in the Mystic East. 1999 also saw the rename of Calamity Canyon into Mexicana, following the opening of Rattlesnake the year before. 2000 saw Beanoland open on the former site of Circus World, bringing two new rides to the park: Billy's Whizzer and Rodger the Dodger's Dodgems.
Expansion to resort
On 22 May 2007, The Tussauds Group was taken over by Merlin Entertainments Ltd, which owns other brands such as Sea Life Centres. Besides Chessington, Merlin also purchased Alton Towers, the nearby Thorpe Park, and Madame Tussauds, which made Merlin the second largest entertainment operator in the world in terms of attendance numbers, behind Disney. As Chessington World of Adventures and Thorpe Park are located within 20 miles of each other, Merlin Entertainments has made efforts to market the two parks to different age groups: Thorpe Park caters to teenagers, while Chessington World of Adventures Resort is for families and people of all ages.
In June 2007, the park opened the Safari Hotel next to the Chessington Zoo, themed to a safari lodge. 2008 saw the opening of the Chessington Sea Life Centre, at the time comprising three areas: Our Shoreline, The Reef and Ocean Tunnel. The Amazonia area was added in 2010.
In 2010 the new Wild Asia area replaced Beanoland, and in June 2010 the Wanyama Reserve opened behind the Safari Hotel, giving a backdrop for its African theme. In 2011 the Ocean Tunnel and surrounding rooms in the Sea Life Centre were re-themed to Azteca. In 2012 a new land themed to Africa replaced ToyTown. In 2013, Chessington introduced Zufari: Ride Into Africa. In the same year, the annual Halloween Hocus Pocus event included a new attraction, The Mystery of Hocus Pocus Hall, based on the explorations of the park's mascot.
2014 saw a major investment of over £30 million. Additions for the year included the refurbishment of the Runaway Train, into the Scorpion Express, a mine train themed rollercoaster. The refurbished ride launched in March. The Amazu Treetop Adventure then opened in the zoo, with raised walkways passing through enclosures of spider monkeys, capybara, military macaw and other animals. A separate monkey walkthrough was also added. Later in 2014, the Azteca Hotel opened as the Resort's second hotel. The Safari Hotel received a second pool named the Savannah Splash. Market Square, Mexicana, Pirates' Cove and Transylvania were all majorly refurbished. For Halloween, the Halloween Hocus Pocus event became Howl'O'Ween, with two additional stage shows: The Pumpkin High School of Rock and The Hairy and Scary Show. Over the festive period Chessington launched the new Winter's Tail event, featuring a new stage show A Christmas Gift as well as market stalls and a 60 ft Christmas tree. Following these investments, attendance rose to 2.05 million guests in 2014, the second highest figure in the park's history.
2015 was the Year of the Penguins at Chessington, where several changes and additions were made across the park and zoo. Three of the four additions were themed to the Penguins of Madagascar franchise, such as the new Penguins of Madagascar Live: Operation Cheezy Dibbles stage show which debuted in Africa. The show features Europe's first animatronic costumes, supplied from The Jim Henson Company at a cost of over £300,000 each. Also new for the Year of the Penguins was the Penguins of Madagascar Mission: Treetop Hoppers a pair of Zamperla junior drop towers themed to a tree climbing machine. Another addition was Penguin Bay, a new enclosure for the Zoo's Humboldt penguins. The new area now features a Portuguese theme and tiered seating on a shipwreck as well as an enclosure walkthrough section. Finally, new Penguins of Madagascar themed suites opened in the Safari Hotel, following the same decorating techniques as those used for the Azteca Hotel. 2015 also saw the Chessington Conservation Fund Evening be relaunched in to Roar & Explore. The new event now features night rides on Zufari: Ride into Africa! as well as more child friendly activities. Following the negative theme park stigma that ensued in 2015 after The Smiler accident at sister Alton Towers, Chessington's attendance fell rapidly to only 1.65 million guests in 2015. The historic Safari Skyway monorail closed midway through the year, and was later removed after twenty nine years of service.
Little was done in 2016, a new small-time show named Pandamonium opened in Chessington Zoo, a Go Ape high ropes course opened, and Trail of the Kings received some new decoration. Explorer Glamping was also introduced over the summer months, launching on 27 May. Large portions of the park were refurbished however, with many facades being restored in the Transylvania and some in Forbidden Kingdom area of the theme park. Tomb Blaster was modified extensively, the changes however were met with mostly negative reviews.
As of 2015, Chessington operates four annual continuing events; African Adventures, Roar & Explore, Howl'o'ween, and Winter's Tail. The first is African Adventures, a February Half-term event. For the week Chessington Zoo opens with African artwork and culture workshops. Selected theme park rides open too, with Scorpion Express and Bubbleworks usually operating alongside smaller attractions such as Seastorm. For the event, African tribal dancers and street explorers can be found roaming and interacting with guests.
On an evening in June, Chessington Zoo opens late for the Chessington Roar & Explore conservation event. The evening involves speeches and information about the charity work the Chessington Conservation Fund is involved in, as well as presentations of some of the Zoo's endangered species. Zufari: Ride into Africa! opens late for the event, and all revenue goes towards the fund.
Winter's Tail is a Christmas event during December weekends and school holidays. Throughout the event Chessington Zoo opens with Christmas decoration and a Christmas grotto 'village' during daylight hours. Parts of the theme park are open, with Bubbleworks, Carousel and Hocus Pocus Hall operating. A festive show named A Christmas Gift is performed several times throughout the day as well.
During the last two weeks of the theme park season, Chessington hosts its biggest event - Howl'o'ween, previously known as Halloween Hocus Pocus. During the event the park is decorated for halloween with spiders, grave stones, voodoo dolls, skeletons and cobwebs as well as large, coloured eyes. Some actors also roam the theme park and zoo dressed as witches, vampires and zombies. During the event, halloween themed attractions open, rides also operate in the dark.
- Ice Age - In August 2009 Chessington held an event to celebrate the release of Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. The park opened a temporary maze outside Beanoland for the event.
- Vampire XXI - In April 2011 Chessington opened a temporary maze in the area outside the Vampire roller coaster to celebrate its 21st birthday. The event was free and ran for two weeks.
- Mystic East Carnival - The Mystic East Carnival was a display of arts from the orient shown in Market Square and Mystic East. The event was held in May for a number of weeks.
- 25th Birthday Celebration - During July 2012, the resort had 25 days of fun[clarification needed] to celebrate the theme park's 25th anniversary.
- Animal Adventures - A weeklong celebration held during the February half term of 2016 to celebrate 85 years of the Zoo being at Chessington. Many animal talks and events went on to celebrate all Animal life at Chessington. This was a one off event, and African Adventures is expected to return for 2017.
Rides and attractions
|Dragon's Fury||Steel sit down spinning coaster||2004||Land of the Dragons||Maurer Söhne||Intense spinning rollercoaster, originality sponsored by Skips. 1771 ft long track (540m); Xtended CS 3000 model. Noise levels were reduced ahead of the 2015 season.|
|Rattlesnake||Steel Wild Mouse||1998||Mexicana||Maurer Söhne||Wild mouse (car 2+2) that reaches a speed of 28 mph (45 km) on a 1213 ft long track (370m) and a height of 49 ft (15m). The Rattlesnake underwent a refurbishment for 2013, which included re-painting the track, fixing queue line effects and repainting all theming.|
|Scorpion Express||Steel sit down||1987||Mexicana||Mack Rides||Blauer Enzian model. Opened in 1987, as Runaway Train. Family rollercoaster themed around an abandoned mining town that has been taken over by scorpions. Themed to look like it has been thrown together by the locals using old mine machinery, the ride features a large animatronic scorpion that sprays water at riders as they pass. In the centre of the ride is an oil derrick which flames four times during one ride. .|
|Vampire||Suspended floorless swinging coaster||1990||Wild Woods||Arrow Dynamics / Vekoma||Original designer was John Wardley, with an upgrade in 2002, with new train design, station touchup, and new queue line. Reaches a speed of 45 mph (73 km) on a 2200 ft long track (670m);|
|Black Buccaneer||Swinging ship||1988||Pirates' Cove||Huss Rides||Swinging pirate ship that is painted black (hence the name).|
|KOBRA||Disk'O Coaster||2010||Wild Asia||Zamperla||Riders sit in a motorcycle-like position in outward-facing seats at the edge of the circular ride platform.|
|Monkey Swinger||Wave swinger||2000||Wild Asia||Zierer||A large monkey-themed wave swinger ride with a water element. Originally opened as Billy's Whizzer.|
|Rameses Revenge||Top Spin||1995||Forbidden Kingdom||Huss Rides||Riders usually take in two different cycles of the ride. Top Spin with a water element; Known for having a cult status amongst British culture, Rameses Revenge is responsible for the park's busiest year in history, with over 2.1 million guests visiting in 1995.|
|SeaStorm||Sea Storm ride||1995||Pirates' Cove||Mack Rides||A Mack SeaStorm  ride. Riders sit in a boat that rises up and down, simulating a sea storm. As the platform spins, the boat also slowly spins on its own axis.|
|Dragon Falls||Flume ride||1987||Mystic East||Mack Rides||A John Wardley-designed water ride that features two drops, one into a dragon's mouth. The ride is heavily themed around the Orient.|
|The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure||N/a||Dark ride||2017||Wild Woods||Merlin Magic Making / Leisuretec||A slow-moving boat ride based on The Gruffalo series of children's books. Guests follow Mouse into the woods, meeting some other Gruffalo characters along the way. Replaced the Bubbleworks.|
|Tomb Blaster||Dark ride||2002||Forbidden Kingdom||Tussauds Studios / Mack Rides||A dark ride themed around destroying an ancient curse, where riders shoot laser guns at targets for points, which are displayed on the cart. Originally opened as The fifth dimension and then terror tomb.|
|Canopy Capers||Tree house||2004||Land of the Dragons||Tussauds Studios||Children's tree house climbing attraction that interlocks with Dragon's Fury|
|The Chessington Adventure Tree||Carousel||2017||Adventure Point||Bertazzon||A carousel ride themed as a tree. It will represent many different parts of Chessington and will serve as a new entrance feature for the park.|
|Dragon's Playhouse||Playhouse||2004||Land of the Dragons||Tussauds Studios||Soft play area, height limit 1.4m max.|
|Flying Jumbos||Mini Jet Red Baron||1987||ZUFARI||Preston & Barbieri||A popular spinning children's ride in which riders control how high they go, with elephant-themed cabs.|
|Griffin's Galleon||Rockin' Tug||2004||Land of the Dragons||Zierer||Small spinning pirate ship for children, the thrill ride has a track length of about fifty feet, and 21 feet of height.|
|Jungle Bus||Crazy bus||2001||Wild Asia||Zamperla||Zamperla magic carpet-style ride. Originally opened as the Bash Street Bus.|
|Treetop Hoppers||Mini drop tower||2001||Africa||Zamperla||Junior drop towers for younger children. Previously known as Berry Bouncers, "Jungle Bouncers" and Penguins of Madagascar Mission: Treetop Hoppers.|
|Sea Dragons||Spinning ride||2004||Land of the Dragons||Mack Rides||Small children's boat ride.|
|Tiny Truckers||Convoy ride||1994||Adventure Point||Zamperla||Small driving attraction that usually makes two laps of its course.|
|Temple of Mayhem||Playhouse||2002||Wild Asia||Merlin Entertainments Studios||Play area with three floors, guests fire foam balls at one another. Height limit 1.4m max. Originally opened as Dennis's Madhouse.|
|Toadie's Crazy Cars||Convoy ride||2001||Africa||Zamperla||Driving attraction, themed around Wind in the Willows. All ages, children under 1.1 meters must be accompanied by an adult.|
|Pandamonium||N/A||Live Show||2017||Chessington Zoo||Merlin Magic Making||Live Show featuring Anamatronic Pandas. 2nd year of show.|
|The Gruffalo Arena||N/A||Live Show||2017||Africa||Merlin Magic Making||Replaced the Penguins of Madagascar: Operation Cheezy Dibbles show.|
|Pandamonium||Live Show||2016||Chessington Zoo||Merlin Magic Making||Live show featuring animatronic pandas. Replaced the reindeer exhibit in the zoo.|
|Wild Factor||Demonstration||2006||Land of the Dragons||Merlin Magic Making||Interactive show about insects. Previously held in Market Square before moving in 2012.|
|Hocus Pocus Hall||House of mirrors||2003||Burnt Stub Mansion||Tussauds Studios / Rex Studios||Hocus Pocus Hall is built in the original manor house at the park, Burnt Stub. Visitors to the walk-in mansion under 1.1 meter must be accompanied by an adult.|
|Lorikeet Lagoon||Bird enclosure||2010||Wild Asia||Merlin Entertainments Studios||Visitors can feed nectar to a flock of lorikeets in a walk-in space.|
|Tuk Tuk Turmoil||Bumper cars||2000||Wild Asia||Preston & Barbieri||Family bumper cars themed to resemble tuk-tuks, which are auto rickshaws from Southeast Asia.|
Ride into Africa!
|Guided safari||2013||ZUFARI||Merlin Magic Making||An off-road safari truck tour that takes riders into the plains of Zufari. Increased annual park attendance by 15.4%.|
Many of the rides and areas at the park have been either re-themed over the years, while others have moved to other theme parks and been replaced.
- The Fun City Show tent, housing circus/stunt entertainment, was demolished in 1999 to make way for Beanoland to open the next season.
- Beanoland was an area themed around The Beano comic. It opened in 2000 and closed in 2009, featuring Billy's Whizzer, Dennis' Madhouse, Roger the Dodger's Dodgems and Bash Street Bus.
- Runaway Train was a mine train themed powered roller coaster in the Mexicana area. Opened in 1987, and closed at the end of 2012. Replaced by Scorpion Express.
- Action Man Training HQ (also called Action Man Critical Mission) was a large children's adventure playground-type attraction, opened in 1997 and closed in 2005.
- Magic Carpet was located in the Mystic East area, opening in 1988 and closed at the end of the 1998 season. Samurai (see below) was installed in its place.
- Samurai was a Mondial Top Scan installed in 1999 and closed in 2003 in Mystic East, then relocated to sister park Thorpe Park.
- Chessington Zoo Railway (12 in (305 mm) miniature gauge) closed in 1985 before the theme park had been constructed.
- Chessington Railroad (2 ft/610 mm narrow gauge) left at the end of 1996. Although still a popular attraction, the fact that long stretches of the route were on open pathways meant it was considered a safety risk and it was removed.
- Rodeo (originally named The Juggler and located in Circus World between 1989-1994) was a Huss breakdance ride that closed at the end of the 2004 season. It was left standing but not operating (SBNO) until 2007, when most of the ride was removed. The ride's centerpiece has been rethemed and is now located in The wild woods.
- 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.
- Clown Coaster, formerly Toy Town Coaster, was a very small children's coaster. It was removed to make way for the new Berry Bouncers ride which took its place in 2001.
- Professor Burp's Bubbleworks was a famous water dark ride in the Transylvania area, opened in 1990 and closed in 2005. It took riders on a tour of a highly animated fizzy pop factory.
- The Fifth Dimension was a dark ride that opened in 1987 and closed in 1993, based around the story of a TV repair robot named Zappomatic and his quest to defeat the computer-created monster, the Gorg. Replaced by Terror Tomb.
- Terror Tomb (later called Forbidden Tomb) was a dark ride opened in 1994 and closed in 2001, replaced by Tomb Blaster. It told the story of a tomb robber named Abdab and the various dangers he encountered as he attempted to steal a precious emerald from within the tomb. Several of the original sets remain in the Tomb Blaster ride, but with significant alterations.
- Vampire: The Haunting in the Hallows, also known as the Black Forest from 2009-2013, was a walk through attraction only open during Halloween. It took place in the graveyard leading to Vampire. The attraction was scrapped for Halloween 2015, and was replaced by The Curse of the Lost Tomb.
- The Mystery of Hocus Pocus Hall was a walk through attraction only open during Halloween, and took place in what would normally be Hocus Pocus Hall during normal season. It followed the storyline of the park mascot, Sir Arthur Stubbs. The soundtrack of the attraction was played parkwide from 2013, until it was scrapped for 2015.
- Madagascar Live! Prepare to Party was a 20-minute live stage show featuring characters from the Madagascar film franchise. It was located it the Africa area and ran from March 2012 until late 2014. It was replaced by Penguins of Madagascar Live: Operation Cheezy Dibbles in 2015 as part of 'The Year of the Penguins'.
- Safari Skyway was a historic monorail attraction that provided guests a guided overhead tour of Chessington Zoo and the Burnt Stub mansion area. Originally opening before the theme park in 1986, the ride almost lasted thirty years before closing abruptly in July 2015 due to ongoing maintenance issues.
- Bubbleworks was a dark water ride opened in 2006, having originally been Prof. Burp's BubbleWorks. It took rides through scenes of a soap factory, with most its scenes heavily modified from the original attraction and sponsored by Imperial Leather. The ride closed on 6 September 2016 to make way for The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure.
- Carousel was a classic carousel ride located in Market Square. It opened in 1996 and closed in 2016. A new carousel was built for 2017 to serve as a spiritual successor to the original carousel. It was named The Chessington Adventure Tree.
- Penguins of Madagascar Live: Operation Cheezy Dibbles was a live show in Africa. It opened in 2015 as part of Chessington's Year of the Penguins and closed at the end of the 2016 season. It was replaced by the Gruffalo Arena in 2017.
- Peeking Heights was a ferris wheel originally located at Thorpe Park. It was relocated to make way for Rush and opened at Chessington in 2005 and closed on the 10th September 2017.
Chessington World of Adventures opened on 6 July 1987. Its main ethos centers around the idea of bringing together a collection of the different cultures and experiences from around the world; a considerable amount of the park is built on the stereotypical setting of each area it is focused on. Major attractions include: Vampire, Bubbleworks, Rameses Revenge, Dragon's Fury, KOBRA, Zufari: Ride into Africa and Scorpion Express. Shows include Wild Factor and Pandamonium, which is seasonal only showing in the summer from 2017 onwards.
The theme park at Chessington World of Adventures Resort is divided into ten themed lands, each with a different theme and setting, specifically with each land designed to resemble a place in the world. The central area of the park, Adventure Point, resembles an old English market town, whereas Mystic East is themed around the orient, with the water ride Dragon Falls opening there in 1987. Mexicana is inspired by a small town in America's old far-west. Pirates' Cove is a mock up of a Cornish cove. Wild Woods is modeled on a central European high street with Bavaria in Germany and the Transylvania region of Romania as its key influences. Forbidden Kingdom is based on Ancient Egypt with hieroglyphics carved onto its surroundings. Land of the Dragons is the only "fantasy" themed area of the theme park and is a self-contained dragon-themed land with rides mostly for young children.
Among the newer lands is Wild Asia which opened in 2010 as a replacement for Beanoland with an Indian jungle theme. Africa opened in 2012 and is based on a cartoon-style African village for children, while the more serious African reserve ZUFARI opened in 2013. In 2017, the existing Transylvania area was re-branded into Wild Woods in order to tie The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure into the area. Also, Market Square was re-branded to Adventure Point in order to tie into the Chessington Adventure Tree Carousel.
The park's maximum daily capacity is set to 16,000 guests, and in 2014, the park attracted two million people, following the opening of the Scorpion Express rollercoaster and the Azteca Hotel.
- Timeline of Park Areas
|Market Square||Adventure Point|
|Circus World||Beanoland||Wild Asia|
|Land of the Dragons|
Adventure Point is the central area of the park, it features a selection of shops, restaurants, smaller outlets including hotdog and doughnut units and guest services, as well as the Chessington Adventure Tree carousel, which was added in 2017 The area has mostly Tudor and early Georgian architecture, featuring details such as hanging baskets and boxed plants. The convoy ride Tiny Truckers is located in Adventure Point, where children can drive their own vehicles. Hocus Pocus Hall is a house of mirrors located just out the area in the Burnt Stub Mansion. In the centre of Adenture Point is a large compass feature in the ground. The compass points guests in the direction of all the resort locations, it includes: theme park lands, some zoo areas, the Sea Life centre and the hotels. The area was named Market Square until 2016.
Themed as a Mexican- inspired square and a Far West town in the American's Old West, the Mexicana area was named Calamity Canyon until 1999. Rattlesnake, a steel sit-down Wild Mouse roller coaster, opened in 1998. Scorpion Express is a mine train themed roller coaster, previously named the Runaway Train from its opening in 1987. The ride was originally designed with an interacting cave feature and an extensively designed queueline above the surrounding buildings, around a lake and down into an underground mine, since a redesign in 2014 the ride has been changed to be completely in the open.
Pirates' Cove is an area adjacent to Adventure Point, originally themed to a Cornish fishing village. Rides include the Black Buccaneer, a swinging pirate ship that is painted black (hence the name) that opened in 1988 with the name Smugglers Galleon. Seastorm is a circular family boat ride that simulates a sea storm.
Mystic East is an oriental-themed area with a replica of the Kōtoku-in Buddha statue taking center court. The two main rides are the Dragon Falls log flume and Peeking Heights, a Ferris wheel. Dragon Falls is a 510 foot long log flume ride themed around the legend of Dragons. The station artwork and exterior design follows that of an old Thai palace, with a pagoda style exterior. Peeking Heights opened in 2005, and from the top of the wheel the entire park is visible. Mystic East also has the Extreme Games Zone.
In July 2017, Chessington filed for planning permission to undertake a large refresh of the area that will involve expanded tiger enclosures including walkways over guests' heads between enclosures, a potential retheme of Dragon Falls to Tiger Falls and a general area refurbishment. The refurbishment will also see the removal of Peeking Heights and the Adventure Zone up charge games area.
The original area was named Transylvania and was created in 1990, and it was the park's most renowned area. It opened with two major attractions, The Vampire and Prof. Burp's BubbleWorks. Vampire is a steel suspended floorless coaster. The original Arrow Dynamics trains were replaced with Vekoma trains during a closed season in 2001, reopening in 2002. Prof. Burp's BubbleWorks was a dark water ride that took guests through an animated fizzy pop factory. For 2006, it was rethemed to an Imperial Leather toiletries factory. Bubbleworks closed on 6 September 2016 and was replaced by The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure in March 2017.
The area was designed architecturally, with a quaint town square to one side, where the entrance to Prof. Burp's BubbleWorks, shops and eateries were located amongst the mid-European style fascia, and a forested path set back from the main area, where the entrance to The Vampire was originally located in a castle archway. After the park's various changes of management, the area was repeatedly changed in piecemeal fashion to more of a haunted Halloween style, though most the fascia remains under various repaints and alterations. Vampire's entrance was moved to an unthemed metal archway in 2001 and the original BubbleWorks entrance recycled as a 'Fastrack' queue in recent years.
In 2017, park management renamed Transylvania to "Wild Woods", to fit in with the new Gruffalo River Ride Adventure attraction that year, though the area itself was largely unchanged.
A themed Ancient Egypt area, Forbidden Kingdom was created in 1994 as part of the Terror Tomb dark ride. It currently has two popular rides; Tomb Blaster and Rameses Revenge. Opening in 2002 Tomb Blaster is a dark ride shoot out game where riders shoot laser guns at targets. Rameses Revenge is a Top Spin ride with a water element that opened in 1995. One side of Forbidden Kingdom is architecturally designed as an Arabic market town, while Tomb Blaster is set in an Ancient Egyptian courtyard, though much detail has been removed throughout the area over the years.
Land of the Dragons
Land of the Dragons is the park's main children's area. Opening in 2004, it is a self-contained, dragon-themed land containing rides and attractions designed to appeal to very young children. It is the only area of the park not themed to a time or place from world culture. There are two play areas in the land: Dragon's Playhouse, a large soft play area, and adjacent to this is Canopy Capers, an outdoor treehouse rope bridge attraction. Griffin's Galleon is a Kontiki rock'n'tug ride and Sea Dragons in a spinning boat ride from Mack Rides.
The Dragon's Tale Theater has daily performances of the Wild Factor show and Sir Walter Squirtalot is a fountain that squirts water. Aside from the children's attractions, Dragon's Fury is an intense spinning roller coaster encompassing the area with its layout.
Wild Asia, opened in early 2010 as a loosely Indian-themed jungle area, with temple ruins and ancient statues. The attraction Lorikeet Lagoon opened with the area in 2010 as part of Chessington's plan to add zoo enclosures within the theme park, visitors may feed the lorikeets nectar. The area has a number of thrill rides, including KOBRA, a Zamperla flat ride that opened in 2010, Monkey Swinger a wave swinger with a water element that opened in 2000, Jungle Bus a small Zamperla magic carpet ride themed around tours of the jungle. The area is also home to the Tuk Tuk Turmoil bumper cars, which are themed as Asian rickshaw tuk tuks. The last attraction in the area is Temple of Mayhem, an indoor play area where children can fire foam balls, with a minimum age limit of 4 years.
Africa is a small area aimed at families. Its architecture is recycled from the previous "Toytown" theme, with the original caricatured buildings redressed as African huts. It has been home of the Madagascar franchise since opening in 2012, and it currently houses two rides, and a major live show. Penguins of Madagascar Live: Operation Cheezy Dibbles, is a stage show based on the Penguins of Madagascar film. The show debuted in 2015 as part of the 'Year of the Penguins' and features animatronic costumes unseen anywhere else in Europe. Also in Africa the Penguins of Madagascar Mission: Treetop Hoppers, a pair of junior drop towers from Zamperla that were also part of the Year of the Penguins. On the edge of the area is Toadie's Crazy Cars, a children's car tour through Mr Toad's garden.
ZUFARI is Chessington's main African area in the form of a large animal reserve. It has ZUFARI - Ride into Africa! as the key attraction, a safari truck adventure through an undiscovered area of Africa. Flying Jumbos is the other attraction in the area. Making up part of the ZUFARI landscape is the Wanayama Village & Reserve, an African themed area of the zoo. The ZUFARI field and Wanyama Reserve are used as a backdrop to the Safari Hotel. ZUFARI's total size is 22 acres and has flamingos, giraffe, ostrich, Nile lechwe, white rhino, Grevy’s zebra, scimitar horned oryx and sitatungas.
Along the pathways of Zufari are various African-style paintings on fences. In the centre of the Wanyama section of ZUFARI is a large faux-stone carving of a lion. A winding waterfall runs along its side.
In 1931, Reginald Goddard opened the Chessington Zoo. In 1946 when Goddard died, the Pearson Publishing Company took over the zoo and managed it until 1978, when The Tussauds Group took control of the park. A number of animals were moved to other zoos during the construction of the theme park. In 1990 the polar bears left the park, as did the hippos and elephants in 1993. In 1994 the snow leopards were relocated to the lion and tiger area. For a time the attraction was called Animal Land, before returning to Chessington Zoo in 2007. The zoo has only one non-animal related attraction, the Burnt Stub Mansion, an old manor house home to the Hocus Pocus Hall.
The zoo is generally open simultaneously with the theme park, but also remains open over the winter when the theme park is closed. Zoo entrance is included with a standard Chessington ticket.
As of 2015 the zoo has over 1,000 animals, many of which are endangered and some being no longer found in the wild. Chessington Zoo is split up into different areas and walkthroughs. The rhea, mara, wallabies, meerkats and agouti were previously the Monkey Walk area. Monkey Walk was replaced by Creatures Features which in turn was later replaced by the Wanyama Village in 2010. There is also a Children's Zoo, where children may feed domestic farm animals.
The Safari Skyway, an elevated monorail with an entrance in the Market Square theme park area, takes riders around various animal enclosures at the zoo. In front of Hocus Pocus Hall, there is Wild Wood, an animal presentation area which hosts the Animal Antics show at different times throughout the day. Near the entrance to the Zoo, there are enclosures for otters and reindeer. Chessington Zoo also has an area called Sealion Bay, which features sea lion presentations several times a day and Creepy Caves, a reptile house.
The Trails of the Kings; a walkthrough attraction home to enclosures for nine western lowland gorillas, two Sumatran tigers, two Asiatic lion, fossa, Carpathian lynx, and binturong. In 2007 the Trail of the Kings section of the zoo underwent an inspection with the outcome that the gorilla enclosure was too small. A bigger building for the gorillas was completed in 2010. As of 2013, there are 10 gorillas at chessington, as well as two infants born in 2012.
The Wanyama Village & Reserve opened in late May 2010, in an area behind the Safari Hotel and houses animals such as Grévy's zebra, sitatunga antelope, ostrich, dorcas gazelle, Nile lechwe, fennec fox, dwarf mongoose, southern ground hornbill, Kirk’s dik-dik, Aloatran gentle lemur, black-cheeked love bird, crested porcupine, meerkats, scimitar horned oryx, common eland and Ankole cattle. It is part of the ZUFARI animal reserve. The area is open to guests staying in the Safari Hotel during the evening.
The AMAZU Treetop Adventure opened in April 2014 on the former site of the Monkey & Bird Garden. The area features adventure trail walkways, play areas and Aztec theming. The area has spider monkeys, saki monkeys, red-handed tamarins, golden-headed lion tamarins, Bolivian squirrel monkeys, Geoffroy marmosets, capybara, military macaws, Ecuadorian red-lored amazons, giant wood rail, agouti and three-banded armadillo. The animals in the area can either be viewed on ground or through the Amazu raised walkways, some of which, go through the enclosures.
Penguin Bay is a new area that opened in March 2015 as part of the Year of the Penguins. It features the long time residents of Chessington Zoo Humboldt penguins in a beach themed area. Seating for the demonstrations is aboard a shipwreck with a canopy. The new enclosure features glass walls to allow for better public viewing. As part of Chessington's plan to make the resort unique and more adventurous, Penguin Bay features a walk through attraction which allows guests to be in the centre of the enclose, with the penguins walking across their feet.
In a world first, the Pandamonium live show opened in 2016 which features life-size and lifelike animatronic pandas, giving families a one of a kind experience and the chance to see what it would be like to get up close to these exotic endangered animals. You will not believe your eyes as these one of a kind mischievous pandas create chaos on stage and have the whole family roaring with laughter at the mayhem that follows.
Chessington Sea Life Centre
In 2008 Chessington Zoo open Chessington Sea Life Centre on the site of the old children's Zoo, as an attempt to both determine if the park had a positive future and also to attract more multi-day visits. The Sea Life Centre, which is part of a franchise operated by Merlin Entertainments, has a number of exhibits including a Ray Pool and a Touch Pool. The Sea Life Centre is split into four areas: Our Shoreline, The Reef, Amazonia and Azteca which features the signature Ocean Tunnel.
"Our Shoreline" is the oldest area and has sea creatures found on the coast of Britain, featuring rays, seahorses and starfish. The area also has smaller exhibits including clownfish and crabs. The Touch Pool is also found here, in the centre of the area. The following area is named "The Reef", which features clownfish, cleaner shrimp, regal tang, slipper lobster and upside-down jellyfish
Next to this area is Amazonia, which opened in 2009. It is a slightly smaller version of the same exhibit that has appeared at other Sea Life Centres. It includes red-bellied piranhas, common octopus, tetras and other, smaller exhibits.
Azteca opened in 2011, it features a 10-meter Ocean Tunnel, which has sea creatures including: bonnethead sharks, lion fish, starry pufferfish, surgeon fish, angle fish, catshark and epaulette shark. The tunnel existed before the 2011 addition, but was redeveloped for the arrival of new fish. Aside from the Ocean Tunnel, Azteca also has jellyfish, seahorse and northern wolffish. The placement of the area, has resulted in the division of the Our Shoreline area, which is now separated into two areas.
Resort Hotels & Accommodation
Currently, Chessington World of Adventures operate two on-site hotels and a Glamping experience.
The Safari Hotel is a four star hotel themed to appear like a Safari Lodge. It was originally named the Safari Lodge Hotel in 2007, before changing to the Chessington Resort Hotel in 2010. The hotel was then refurbished and relaunched for 2014 and has since been known simply as the Safari Hotel.
The hotel opened in June 2007 and was originally operated by Holiday Inn until it was fully taken over by Merlin Entertainments in May 2014. The hotel features various African elements with giraffe sculptures in the foyer and Zafari Bar & Grill. The hotel's check in area features a reptile enclose, which has a variety of animals housed in it depending on the time of year.
When the hotel was integrated as a resort in 2010, the Wanyama Village & Reserve opened with access from the hotel.
The Azteca Hotel is the newer of the two and opened in 2014. The hotel is four star and themed around an ancient aztec temple. The hotel has three floors, with each floor themed to a different level of the temple. The top floor (named "Temple Summit") is decorated to give the impression that guests are on top of the structure looking out at the wildlife around.
The hotel's Temple Restaurant has a heavy emphasis on special effects, with a large tower sitting in the centre of the room. Every thirty minutes, it makes a display of water fountains, it also features rapid lighting sequences and ultraviolet markings. Around the perimeter of the restaurant is a trail of leaf cutter ants which pass the tables. At the entrance to the restaurant is a tank of red bellied piranha. Due to the hotel being built partly into the side of a hill, the Temple Restaurant has no windows, and instead has a series of screens built into the walls, showing various animated videos of the South American wildlife.
The hotel is linked to the Amazu area of Chessington Zoo, which is also aztec themed. Due to the location of the hotel in relation to the car parks, check in is located in the Safari Hotel.
Launched on 27 May 2016, Chessington's Explorer Glamping site comprises a total of 31 standard, and four deluxe tents. The Glamping site is located in the south west of the park, behind Lorikeet Lagoon in the Theme Park. The 'Explorer's Outpost' restaurant is available to residents.
A management conference held at Chessington by operator Merlin Entertainments in October 2014, outlined a plan to expand the current accommodation offering with a 'Safari Camp', and a development known as the 'Chessington Lodges'. Merlin aim to add a further 200 rooms to the resort, either through lodges or a third hotel.
In May 2016, drafts of a long term development plan were displayed in the Safari Hotel for neighbors' input. The plans highlighted the installation of a new roller coaster, possibly two. A new major attraction in 'Africa' as well as a large feature close by Hocus Pocus Hall. Safari Lodges are proposed behind 'Zufari'. Tiny Truckers, the Carousel, Peeking Heights and Toadie's Crazy Cars are expected to be removed to make way for these developments. Plans to remove the Carousel are already underway, with installation of a replacement Carousel called The Adventure Tree in the centre of Market Square/Adventure Point (as opposed to behind the Square Gift Shop) already submitted for approval.
Bubbleworks closed on 6 September 2016 to be replaced by an attraction utilising the same ride system. On 1 January 2017, Chessington announced on social media that the Gruffalo River Ride Adventure will replace the Bubbleworks.
2014 court case
In September 2014, park owner Merlin Entertainments initiated a court case to seek an injunction against Peter Cave, owner of survey consultancy Peer Egerton. The consultancy firm was hired by Merlin to prepare a report on the safety of the park, after a serious accident in 2012. They found 2000 defects and potential safety hazards. This led to a dispute between Cave and Merlin, culminating in court proceedings to prevent the park from reopening after its 2012 winter break. Merlin won this case and the park reopened. Cave then set up a campaign to warn the public and staff of the findings, including sending out 80,000 emails. Merlin claimed to have spent roughly £4.6 million on repairs and improvements and named the allegations "baseless criticisms", "highly alarming, distressing and disgraceful", and harassing. But High Court Judge Elisabeth Laing ruled that the campaign was a "matter of public interest" and refused the injunction to silence Cave.
Green belt restrictions
Due to the majority of the theme park being located on green belt lands the park is subject to several restrictions. Most significant are restrictions in height (no building higher than the tree line), noise (with time restrictions) and traffic management.
Various rides have had to have been built in pits due to these restrictions. It is most noticeable on Black Buccaneer, Rattlesnake and Rameses Revenge. The resort are not allowed to build anything higher than the Peeking Heights Ferris wheel and cannot operate The Vampire past 11pm.
- Main gallery: Chessington World of Adventures Resort at WikiCommons
- Theme park and features
Entrance to Dragon's Fury in Land of the Dragons
Forbidden Kingdom theming at entrance to Rameses Revenge
The Burnt Stub Mansion
- Chessington Zoo
Ostriches in their Wanyama Village enclosure
Sumatran tiger 2010
Sea lion enclosure
Kunekune at petting zoo
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