With Dragon’s Fury through Chessington South


If you order a Merlin Annual Pass in the UK, you will need to collect it from any of the attractions in the group as well as from the attraction from which you have ordered it. However, the Merlin attractions in the UK are of a very high standard, which can make choosing an attraction quite difficult. If you restrict yourself to the London area, there are three theme parks belonging to the group and a large number of smaller tourist attractions. The best choice, in my opinion, is Chessington World of Adventures. Not only is it easily accessible, but it also has two very fun rides within the park, the Dragon’s Fury and Vampire roller coasters.

Chessington World of Adventures

Entering through the Lodge Gate near Chessington South railway station, you will immediately find yourself in the Zoo area of the park. Turn right to see otters in action and enter Wanyama Village and Reserve, which opened in 2011. This area consists mainly of a large prairie and some smaller enclosures such as the meerkat enclosure. Next year the area will be expanded to include the Zufari Safari Tour.

Next to Wanyama Village is the Monkey & Bird Garden where you can see some larger birds and smaller monkeys. The Monkey Walkthrough is an interesting feature where a staff member takes a smaller group around and explains the animals in the outdoor enclosure.

On the way to the rest of the zoo area at Chessington World of Adventures, we recommend a visit to the local Sea Life Centre, which has a number of interesting aquariums. This is one of the larger Sea Life Centres in the group – very similar to Sharkbait Reef at Alton Towers. Unlike the smaller Sea Life Centres in Germany, you can easily stay a little longer in this one. With children, the visit is a completely different experience anyway.

The Trail of the Kings, together with the penguin and sea lion enclosures, completes the zoo area of Chessington World of Adventures. Unfortunately, at the time of my visit, half of the enclosures were closed for refurbishment. However, the animals that were present were very active.

Sea Storm and Black Buccaneer

The Pirates Cove themed area features the Mack Rides Sea Storm ride and the very interesting HUSS Black Buccaneer boat swing. Like many other attractions in the park, the ship swing is located in a pit, which means it does not reach above the surrounding tree tops – a common height restriction in the UK. In addition to a tingly feeling in the tummy, you are guaranteed to get a bounce or two at the top.

The neighbouring area of Transylvania is home to a night creature of a very special kind. It is also home to a bubble factory and one of the most interesting fast-food restaurants. The Burger King here is themed.


BubbleWorks, the bubble factory, failed to impress on my last visit due to the lack of soundtrack, but it did so on this visit. The quirky design, which has been executed with a certain perfection, and the magnificent finale, which takes you through numerous fountain tunnels, make this dark ride something very special and something not to be missed.


Equally special is the now grown-up Vampire coaster. At 21 years of age, it still swings its guests through the treetops, and it does so with aplomb. The main highlight is certainly the big drop into the tunnel, after which the gondolas swing out very strongly, but the first part of the ride is also a lot of fun and can already show some strong swings. As with Arrow’s other European coasters, this bloodsucker will tempt you to take a second or third ride.

Dragon’s Fury

The Dragon’s Fury roller coaster in the Land of the Dragons themed area, which also features a Zierer Kontiki, a large children’s playground and an interactive water fountain, is often regarded as Maurer Söhne’s best spinning coaster. On this visit, however, I found it difficult to decide whether Alton Towers’ Sonic Spinball was not a little better. The big advantage of the Alton Towers ride is certainly the much smoother ride compared to Dragon’s Fury, but it lacks the first drop with that crazy S-curve combination that leads straight into Immelmann. Both layouts have their charms and are well ahead of the other layouts, it is just hard to say which of the two Merlin Entertainments models is actually better or worse. However, Dragon’s Fury is a truly great coaster.

Madagascar Live!

With the removal of the Smarties Cottage in the former children’s area of Chessington World of Adventures, the last stigma of the park has disappeared. All the attractions remained the same, except that the Flying Jumbos were moved closer to the Powered Coaster Runaway Train to make room for a stage for the very popular Dreamwork figures from Madagascar. From a distance, the Madagascar Live! show looked quite child-friendly, but the show value was still much higher than the 4D Ice Age experience at Alton Towers, which currently occupies a theatre over there.

Monkey Swinger

In the Wild Asia section we immediately encounter the wave swinger Monkey Swinger, which drenches passengers with ice-cold water through its fountain play. Visitors get soaked by the fountains – not surprisingly there is a hairdryer at the exit for the passengers.

Lorikeet Lagoon

An attraction now found in many zoos around the world is the Lorikeet Lagoon free-flight aviary, where you can lure the colourful lorikeet with a bit of nectar. This made the birds look quite fat, probably due to their new plumage. As at Weltvogelpark Walsrode, the lorises were quite trusting, which led to some funny situations.

Dragon Falls and Peeking Heights

In the Mystic East themed area is the Dragon Falls log flume, which cleverly directed the water from the shots onto my shoes, resulting in wet socks. The Peeking Heights Ferris Wheel is supposed to offer views of Staines and nearby Thorpe Park, but the view was not that good on the day we visited.

Tomb Blaster

On my last visit my opinion of Tomb Blaster was a little clouded by the long breaks in the block sections. The ride is a real gem of an interactive dark ride, just like most of the other dark rides built by Sally. The story, however, is rather flat and doesn’t deserve any real attention, as you’ll mainly be shooting at ancient Egyptian enemies and bigger bosses. The length of the ride is also remarkable, partly due to the train system used.

Rameses Revenge

Next door is Rameses Revenge, one of the best top spins from HUSS. The ride not only manages to produce a good number of spins, but also provides a good shower for the passengers. On two occasions the water fountains were approached head on and luckily they caught you well so you left Chessington World of Adventures well drenched.

Runaway Train and Rattlesnake

In the Mexicana themed area, you can ride Mack Rides’ Runaway Train – which comes with a beautiful mountain range and a top themed queue – as well as another coaster highlight: the Rattlesnake. Due to the park’s height restrictions, this wild mouse was installed in a pit, giving it a very unique look. It also helps that the queue passes through the coaster’s inner courtyard.

Pictures Chessington World of Adventures

Conclusion Chessington World of Adventures

Chessington World of Adventures is the prettiest of Merlin Entertainments’ UK theme parks, although not the biggest. The park’s portfolio is well-balanced and boasts some real treasures, including some very special rollercoasters such as Vampire and Dragon’s Fury. The park, with its extraordinary ideas, has made the most of the constructive constraints. The integrated zoo, like Drayton Manor Theme Park or Tier- und Freizeitpark Thüle, provides an all-round successful package and a very good distribution of visitors within the park.


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Click here for the overview page of Chessington World of Adventures

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