We were invited by Mumsnet to a VIP day at Chessington to see what was on offer for the under 5's, so we met up with lots of other families at The Holiday Inn which is part of the Chessington World of Adventures resort. It is a lovely hotel and not at all what I expected. According to posters dotted around a family of 4 can stay at the hotel with breakfast and have 2 days in the park for as little as £149! With animals out the back including Zebras and Giraffes this is definitely something I am now considering for our next visit!
After getting up close with some animals then snacking on some lovely pastries and delicious smoothies we were taken into the park. First stop was the Sealife centre Chester was very lucky that he got to feed some fish and he was very excited about this! Because of the sheer volume of people in the sealife centre (it is quite compact) we kept Millie in her stroller. She could still see the fish and was VERY excited to see 'Nemo & Dorey'
The have a great activity for the children on the way round. Its an Octonauts quiz trail. No pen's required, you just look for the question boards and scratch off the answer colour on your sheet! Chester took this very seriously and spent more time looking for the boards than he did the fish! At the end the children were given a sticker each and a hat for completing the trail!
Next we has some spare time before Lunch. I had heard some good things about a new attraction Zufari: Ride into Africa and really wanted to try it out, so we headed their. Millie is too short for Zufari so Craig pushed her round so she could have a little nap. Its worth noting that if we had wanted too, we could've gone to guest services and picked up a parent swap pass. Enabling us to both enjoy the ride without queuing twice.
Zufari is a new safari type ride, the queue system is very good and does not take as long as you think. They have caught on to American ride layouts and holding areas. Meaning Just when you think you are at the ride you are taken into another area and get to watch a video. I actually really like this way of queuing so it was a big thumbs up from me. We then boarded a big truck with around 24 other people and off we went. On the way around we got to see some giraffes, Zebras, White Rhinos and a few other animals. There was also a a fun twist which I am not going to giveaway! Chester absolutely LOVED the ride, I thought it was good. In fact I would say it was great for a UK ride. Very well planned out indeed.
Next Chester was getting a bit stroppy because it was hot and sunny (he is just like his mother, and prefers Spring and Autumn!) so we decided to head back over to the hotel for lunch. We were greeted with a lovely buffet with some delicious salads and some hot pizza paninis and wedges. Chester was very pleased declaring pizza is his favourite! After filling up with the yummy savoury food, we reluctantly declined the yummy looking cakes and headed back into the park.
Millie was just waking up at this point, so I fed her some bits I had saved for her at lunch on the way over to some of the younger childrens rides. I have to say that the map is very busy and it does seem like they have had to squeeze too much on one page. Making it a little hard to read. I may of been better to poole attractions aimed at the younger age group together.
We finally found Tiny Truckers but by this point we had walked past lots of grab machines and fairground type games. So Chester was in total meltdown, literally sitting on the floor refusing to move. How embarrassing. I do think it is wrong to put those type of things into a theme park, this is the first theme park in the UK that I have noticed it. Why would you want to spend loads of extra money on these types of games when you have already paid lots of money to get in to the park? Not only that, but I do think it lowers the tone of the park, making it feel a lot more like a local fair and less like a theme park. It is very unfair on families as Children do not understand, especially when it is being shoved in their faces at every turn!
Anyway... back to tiny truckers. Because of the said melt down both Children were not happy at all. I ended up having to take Millie off as she was crying so much! I believe that it was the meltdown that caused this and not the ride itself as later on the the day both children loved the Toadies Crazy Cars!
|This sums up just how much Chester loved the bubble works|
The rest of the afternoon was spent flitting between rides. There are plenty of rides for under 5's, in fact too many to do in one day! I do think that the rides for the under 5's could do with being in one area as it is tiring for little legs to have to zigzag across the park!
Something else that the children really loved was the Madagascar Live - prepare to party show. It was a great show which I believe lasted around 20 minutes. Both children were happy to sit crossed legged at the front, whilst we relaxed on benches! The show was all about the fabulous King Julian and Alex with lots of laughs and loads of dancing. A real treat for any Madagascar fans! They even have a meet and greet time, however we had missed that earlier on in the day.
At the end of the day we took a slow walk back to the car via the zoo. It was a great way to end the day, watching the animals. We even got to see a baby gorilla and Millie was made up when a tiger got down from his platform and came up to the window!
We did have a few negatives of the day so I will mention them before the highs (which do outweigh the lows) We noticed on some of the rides that they were a little worn and neglected. Such as the horn's on Toadies Crazy Cars, which, not only were they rusty but they also did not work. A real disappointment for Chester. The price for ride photographs were extortionate at £10 each and they really do shove them in your face. For example on Zufari, in the queue you are made to walk through a photo booth area to have your picture taken! Then there was the problems we had with the fairground type stalls, which I won't go over again, but will reiterate how much I think they are unnecessary. Finally the fact that the map was very busy and not very clear did not help when we were trudging through the park with 2 young children.
Tantrums aside, we really did have a great day with lots of highs. Meeting the Octonauts was an amazing experience for the children and Chester is still talking about Zufari and the Bubble Works now! Millie is now even more obsessed with bubbles! All of the staff that we encountered were friendly and helpful, which does make a difference to the day. Although we noticed them too late so didn't purchase them, the drinks bottles with unlimited refills for around £6 were a bargain, and if we were coming again that would be the first thing we buy. There are two car parks at Chessington and surprisingly even though it was a very busy day we had not trouble finding a space or getting out!
I think if you are going to visit Chessington you need to be aware that it cannot all be done in a day. There is more than you think for under 5's (equally as much for over 5's) including a petting zoo and a soft play area that sadly we just did not get time to do! I would say we barely covered half of the park, although we all went home very happy (and very tired!) there was still so much more to see and do!
Thank you Chessington World of Adventures, Holiday Inn and Mumsnet for your hospitality. It was a great day and we were glad to be part of it.
Now to plan a 2 day break!!
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