Chessington World of Adventures
The day after Whit Monday we took the train to Chessington South and from there about 1km walk to the amusement park Chessington World of Adventures – a theme park of Merlin Entertainments. There we immediately came across a wonderfully empty animal and amusement park. On our day of visit, all rides did two laps in a row, which was quite astonishing, especially with the roller coasters.
Passing tigers and lions, which were still moderately active in the early morning, we went to the first object of desire, the spinning coaster Dragon’s Fury. This ride, built by Maurer Söhne, is relatively easy to describe, as it is simply ingenious. The first drop ends in a crazy S-curve combo, which leads into an Immelmann turn. Some turns and helices follow which then change into another weirdness, namely the second quite flat lifthill which gives you the necessary potential energy to complete the rest of the rather bizarre layout.
Dragon’s Fury is by far the best spinning coaster in the world, which is no easy feat with rides like Sonic Spinball from Alton Towers or Tarantula from the Spanish Parque de Atracciones de Madrid. The ride itself usually has a very good gondola rotation, which further enhances the great ride layout.
Right next door, the newly designed Wild Asia theme area lured us straight into Asia. The former Beanoland, which was dedicated to an English comic series, was redesigned for the 2010 season and now presents itself to visitors with two new features.
In addition to a bumper car, a playhouse and a crazy bus from Zamperla, the area also boasts a very remarkable installation: A wave swinger made by Zierer. Normally to be found in almost every amusement park, Chessington World of Adventure manages to make the Monkey Swinger something very special by using water fountains. In contrast to the installation at Phantasialand, the fountains at the Monkey Swinger are not only an impressive decoration but also serve as an ice cold refreshment. Here at the latest, one becomes aware that the English are not really averse to water. Thus, it is not surprising that one rushes through the water fountains a dozen times during the ride. Thereby, the outer seats where one already gets soaking wet are still the driest seats.
To get dry again you can go to the body dryer or sit in the new Kobra ride, a Zamperla Disk’o Coaster. The ride itself unfortunately looks much more imposing from the outside than it is from the inside. Nevertheless a ride on the Kobra is still a nice one for in between.
The second novelty in this area is the Lorikeet Lagoon, an attraction that can now be found more and more often in zoological gardens, such as Erlebnis-Zoo Hannover or Weltvogelpark Walsrode. It is a walk-in aviary where lorikeets make their rounds and you can buy food for these birds for little money. Thanks to the nature of this parrot species it is possible to get into quite funny situations, at least as long as you have some nectar left to attract them.
In the Chinese themed area Mystic East you can find the log flume ride Dragon Falls next to the Ferris wheel Peeking Heights, from which you can theoretically see as far as Thorpe Park. This ride is wonderfully designed but offers only a very slight level of wetness and a rather bizarre layout.
To the joyful surprise of the staff we went for a ride on the Top Spin Rameses Revenge. As the first guests of the day we were not only surprised by the fountains of the ride, but also by the good German language skills of the staff, who appropriately called the machine a Waschmaschine.
In the same themed area there is the interactive dark ride Tomb Blaster, an attraction from Sally that is well worth seeing. Here, a long train takes you through numerous breathtaking backdrops. Due to the yawning emptiness in the park and the resulting longer breaks in the block areas, one could accumulate a bunch of points, but the ride also lacked some momentum.
Somewhat hidden and lying in a pit like the Top Spin, the wagons of the Rattlesnake – a Wild Mouse from Maurer Söhne – do their rounds. The waiting area in the middle of the layout alone deserves some attention, but this is even more trumped by the ride. In contrast to the Crazy Mine at the German theme park Hansa Park, the original ambience has so far been maintained and not enhanced by functional extensions.
Somewhat offside you can find the Powered Coaster Runaway Train – a Blauer Enzian modell of Mack Rides. This standard model has been perfectly suited for Chessington World of Adventures, which you can already notice when passing through the queue that has somehow been put into the ride. The coaster itself is also much more harmonious than the sister ride Flying Fish from Thorpe Park, which is barely 15 miles away. The nice staff provides a great atmosphere as well.
Hocus Pocus Hall and Sea Life Centre
An interesting attraction is the passage through the Hocus Pocus Hall, where you can see some effects with special glasses. Another interesting walkthrough is the Sea Life Centre, which unfortunately has an ugly tent look from the outside. But in the interior, the aquarium is very convincing. The big variety of species and the elaborate design provide a high entertainment value. Thanks to the very low number of visitors it was finally possible to have a closer look at the fish.
In the Transylvanian themed area Transylvania you will find the probably most beautiful Burger King in the world as well as a very individual dark ride around the topic squeaking ducks. The tour through the bubble factory BubbleWorks turns out to be quite amusing and can show one of the most impressive finales, because here you literally go for a bath. You won’t get wet, but the water jets you drive through are very impressive.
The last roller coaster of the park is from Arrow Dynamics and is a true suspended coaster. This rare type of roller coaster can be found mainly in America and unfortunately the very few examples are getting rarer and rarer with time. In this respect it’s good to know that there is also a ride of this kind in Europe. The still quite new trains made by Vekoma at least give hope for a long future.
The ride on Vampire starts quite amusing with some curve combinations where you already swing a bit to the side. Shortly after that you will go up the second lift hill, after which you complete the part of the ride that can be seen from the outside. Passing the row of houses at the Burger King you quickly get into the treetops where you continue swinging a little to and fro. The highlight of the ride follows shortly afterwards, when one swings out quite intensively after a big drop while leaving a tunnel. Unfortunately, one lands in the braking section shortly thereafter, where one swings out a little before returning to the station.
Vampire is a very surprising roller coaster whose ride comfort increases noticeably for those who wear glasses as soon as you take them off. Although Vampire is not the highest or even the fastest roller coaster – which is mainly due to the local conditions at the park – Arrow Dynamics managed to put an extremely amusing ride into the park, which is definitely unparalleled at least in Europe.
Right next to it, in a quite interesting location, one can admire the ship swing of the park, which, as all the other bigger rides, was put into a pit. Bizarrely, the entrance to Black Buccaneer is in a quite illogical position, so you can invest some time before you find it. After one completes the impressive way back down to the ship swing one is rewarded with a great ride with a quite large swing-out.
Pictures Chessington World of Adventures
Conclusion about our first ever visit
Chessington World of Adventures is one of the most interesting animal and theme parks in Europe and can boast first-class rides, beautifully designed themed areas and a really good zoo area. If you are close to London and are spoilt for choice between the three theme parks Chessington World of Adventures, Legoland Windsor or the practically neighbouring Thorpe Park, the park in Chessington should definitely be paid attention to – it is worth it.
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