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Chessington World of Adventures

Chessington World of Adventures Resort
Slogan Britain's Wildest Adventure!
Location Chessington, Greater London, England
Owner Merlin Entertainments
General Manager Tim Harrison-Jones
Opened 1931/June 7, 1987 (as theme park)
Previous names Chessington Zoo, Chessington World of Adventures & Zoo
Operating season Theme Park:
Visitors per annum 2.061 million (2014)
Total 33
Roller coasters 4
Water rides 2
Status Theme park, zoo, sea life & hotels are operational.

Chessington World of Adventures Resort (often abbreviated to just "Chessington" or "CWoA") 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 alongside the zoo, opening on June 7,1987, making it the first themed amusement park in Britain.[1] Owned and operated by Merlin Entertainments since 2007.[2] Chessington has two on-site resort hotels, the Safari Hotel opened in 2007, and was followed by the opening of the Azteca Hotel in mid 2014.

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, Creepy Caves, 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 centres around immersive areas and high quality themes from around the world. It currently has ten areas including the Market Square, Mystic East, Mexicana, Pirates Cove, Transylvania,[3] 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.[4] In 2012 Africa replaced ToyTown, and following this Chessington introduced the new area ZUFARI in 2013.[5] Major attractions include: Vampire, Bubbleworks, KOBRA, Zufari: Ride into Africa and Scorpion Express.


  • History 1
    • Founding of zoo 1.1
    • Founding of theme park 1.2
    • Expansion to resort 1.3
  • Events 2
  • Rides and attractions 3
    • Roller coasters 3.1
    • Flat rides 3.2
    • Water/Dark rides 3.3
    • Children's rides 3.4
    • Live Shows 3.5
    • Other attractions 3.6
    • Past rides 3.7
  • Chessington Theme Park 4
    • Market Square 4.1
    • Mexicana 4.2
    • Pirates' Cove 4.3
    • Mystic East 4.4
    • Transylvania 4.5
    • Forbidden Kingdom 4.6
    • Land of the Dragons 4.7
    • Wild Asia 4.8
    • Africa 4.9
    • ZUFARI 4.10
  • Chessington Zoo 5
    • Chessington Sea Life Centre 5.1
  • Resort Hotels 6
    • Safari Hotel 6.1
    • Azteca Hotel 6.2
  • Future developments 7
  • 2014 court case 8
  • Green belt restrictions 9
  • Gallery 10
  • See also 11
  • References 12
  • External links 13


Burnt Stub Mansion (now Hocus Pocus Hall), is the original manor house on the estate, dating from before Chessington Zoo.

The mansion at Chessington World of Adventures Resort known today as the Burnt Stub was originally built in 1348, in Chessington, Surrey.[6] 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.[1]

Founding of zoo

The resort has it 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.[6] 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).[1]

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.[7] The decision was made to open a theme park to complement the zoo, and so Chessington World of Adventures was born.[8] On 7 June 1987 Chessington World of Adventures opened to the public. The park was built on a relatively small budget of around £12 million, in case the project failed.

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,[9] making Chessington one of the first true theme parks in Britain.[7]

The 1990 season bought two of Chessington's more popular rides with the opening of Transylvania: Vampire and Professor Burp's Bubbleworks.[10] 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.[10]

The 1995 season arrived with the intense Rameses Revenge, the park's first inverting ride. Rameses Revenge was new in the Forbidden Kingdom area;[6] 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,[10] located next to the explorer gate.[6] 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.[10]

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, second only to Disney.[11] 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:[6] Thorpe Park caters to teenagers, while Chessington World of Adventures Resort is for families and people of all ages.[9]

In June 2007, the park opened the Safari Hotel next to the Chessington Zoo, themed to a safari lodge.[9] 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 the following year.

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.[9] 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.[5] In 2013, Chessington introduced Zufari: Ride Into Africa.[5] 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 Scorpion Express, a mine train themed rollercoaster. The new ride launched in March to both critical acclaim and commercial success. 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 and its biggest investment on record. 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.

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.

2016 sees addition of a brand new " High Ropes Course" similar to Treetop Quest at Alton Towers with a low and high course. As well as a glamping area in Wild Asia 2016 also sees a brand new ride in Mystic East It is rumoured to be a Zamperla Watermania but that has not been revealed. The recent October map shows these are confirmed. More is to be confirmed soon.


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 afircan artwork and culture workshops.[12] Selected theme park rides open too, with Scorpion Express and Bubbleworks usually operating alongside smaller attractions such as Seastorm.[13] 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.

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.[14] Some actors also roam the theme park and zoo dressed as witches, vampires and zombies.[15] During the event, halloween themed attractions open, rides also operate in the dark.[13]

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.[13] Parts of the theme park are open, with Bubbleworks, Carousel and Hocus Pocus Hall operating. A festive show named A Christmas Gift is preformed several times throughout the day as well.[16]

One Off Events
  • 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 to celebrate the theme park's 25th anniversary.

Rides and attractions

Roller coasters

Name Picture Type Opened Area Manufacturer Additional information
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);[17] Xtended CS 3000 model.[17] 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).[18] 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.[19] Family rollercoaster themed around an abandoned mining town that has been taken over by scorpions.[20] 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. The retheme of the Runaway Train into Scorpion Express created one of the park's highest attended years on record with around two million people visiting in 2014.
Vampire Suspended floorless swinging coaster 1990 Transylvania 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);[21]

Flat rides

Name Picture Type Opened Area Manufacturer Additional information
Black Buccaneer Swinging ship 1988 Pirates' Cove Huss Rides Swinging pirate ship that is painted black (hence the name).[22]
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.[23]
Monkey Swinger Wave swinger 2000 Wild Asia Zierer[24] A large monkey-themed wave swinger ride with a water element. Originally opened as Billy's Whizzer.[25]
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;[26] 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 [27] 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.

Water/Dark rides

Name Picture Type Opened Area Manufacturer Additional information
Bubbleworks Water dark ride 2006
Transylvania Mack Rides Dark water ride designed by the Sparks Group and John Wardley[27] that originally opened in 1990 as a "fizzy pop" factory. A ring-shaped boat holds up to four people and travels with varying speed through the ride.[3] It is currently themed around a soap factory, and sponsored by Imperial Leather from 2006 until 2010. Adjusted in 2014.
Dragon Falls Log flume 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.[28]
Tomb Blaster Dark ride 2002 Forbidden Kingdom 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.[29]

Children's rides

Name Picture Type Opened Area Manufacturer Additional information
Canopy Capers Tree house 2004 Land of the Dragons Tussauds Studios Children's tree house climbing attraction that interlocks with Dragon's Fury[28]
Carousel Carousel 1996 Market Square Bertazzon Classic merry go round style ride.[30]
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.[31]
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.[32]
Jungle Bus Crazy bus 2001 Wild Asia Zamperla Zamperla magic carpet-style ride. Originally opened as the Bash Street Bus.
Penguins of Madagascar Mission: Treetop Hoppers Mini drop tower 2015 Africa Zamperla Penguins of Madagascar themed junior drop towers for younger children. Newly themed in 2015 as part of the Year of the Penguins.
Sea Dragons Spinning ride 2004 Land of the Dragons Mack Rides Small children's boat ride.[28]
Tiny Truckers Convoy ride 1994 Market Square Zamperla Small driving attraction that usually makes two laps of its course.[30]
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.[33]

Live Shows

Name Picture Type Opened Area Manufacturer Additional information
Penguins of
Madagascar Live: Operation Cheezy Dibbles
Live Show 2015 Africa The Jim Henson Company Twenty minute live show based on the Penguins of Madagascar film. Launching in 2015 as part of the Year of the Penguins. Costing over £1 million.
Wild Factor Demonstration 2006 Land of the Dragons Merlin Entertainments Studios Interactive show about insects. Previously held in Market Square before moving in 2012.
The Octonauts Small Show & Meet'n'Greet 2013 Sea Life Centre Vampire squid Attraction based on CBeebies show. Found at most Sea Life centres.

Other attractions

Name Picture Type Opened Area Manufacturer Additional information
Hocus Pocus Hall House of mirrors 2003 Burnt Stub Mansion Tussauds Studios Hocus Pocus Hall is built in the original manor house at the park, Burnt Stub.[1] Visitors to the walk-in mansion under 1.1 meter must be accompanied by an adult.[30]
Lorikeet Lagoon Bird enclosure 2010 Wild Asia Merlin Entertainments Studios Visitors can feed nectar to a flock of lorikeets in a walk-in space.[25]
Peeking Heights Ferris wheel 2005 Mystic East Fabbri Group 25 metres (82 ft) tall, has 18 pods, and provides views of the entire park.[34] Passengers under 1.1 metres (3 ft 7 in) must be accompanied by an adult.[35] Was previously at Thorpe Park.[27] Peeking Heights was refurbished for the 2013 season as part of Chessington's £14 million refurbishment plan.
Safari Skyway Monorail 1986 Market Square Mack Rides Guided monorail tour around Chessington Zoo. Any guests under 1.1 meter must be accompanied by an adult.[27]
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 Entertainments Studios An off-road safari truck tour that takes riders into the plains of Zufari.[25] Increased annual park attendance by 15.4%.

Past rides

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.[27]

  • The Fun City Show tent, housing circus/stunt entertainment, was demolished in 1999 to make way for Beanoland to open the next season.
The now defunct Beanoland area, currently Wild Asia, housed several rides
  • Beanoland was an area themed around The Beano comic. It opened in 2000 and closed in 2009,[27] featuring Billy's Whizzer, Dennis' Madhouse, Roger the Dodger's Dodgems and Bash Street Bus.[36]
  • Runaway Train was a mine train themed powered roller coaster in the Mexicana area. Opened in 1987,[10] and closed at the end of 2012. Replaced by Scorpion Express.[20]
  • 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.[10]
  • Magic Carpet was located in the Mystic East area, opening in 1988 and closed at the end of the 1998 season.[10] Samurai (see below) was installed in its place.
  • Samurai was a Mondial Top Scan installed in 1999 and closed in 2003 in Mystic East,[10] 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.[37]
  • Chessington Railroad (2 ft/​610 mm narrow gauge)[38] left at the end of 1996.[10] 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.[10] 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 Transylvania.
  • Toytown Roundabout was also removed at the end of 1999. The more traditional carousel,[10] which had been open since 1996 close to the park's north entrance, took its place.[10]
  • 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.[10]
  • Professor Burp's Bubbleworks was a world-famous dark ride in the Transylvania land opened in 1990 and closed in 2005 and rethemed in 2006. It took riders on a tour of a quirky fizzy pop factory using boats and a water channel.[27]
  • The Fifth Dimension was a dark ride that opened in 1987 and closed in 1993, based around the story of a TV repair robot[39] named Zappomatic and his quest to defeat the computer-created monster, the Gorg. Replaced by Terror Tomb.
  • Terror Tomb (also called Forbidden Tomb) was a dark ride opened in 1994 and closed in 2001, replaced by Tomb Blaster.[10] 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. Many of the original set pieces remain in the Tomb Blaster ride with the exclusion of the Abdab animatronics, some of which were installed within the queue line of Vampire as decoration, but have since been removed.
  • Madagascar Live! Prepare to Party was a 20-minute live stage show featuring characters from the Madagascar film franchise.[33] 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'.

Chessington Theme Park

Compass in the centre of Market Square, with each area in the resort labelled.

Chessington World of Adventures opened on 6 July 1987 and is themed around areas of the world. Major attractions include: Vampire, Bubbleworks, Rameses Revenge, Dragon's Fury, KOBRA, Zufari: Ride into Africa and Scorpion Express which opened on 19 March 2014.[20] Shows include the new Penguins of Madagascar Live: Operation Cheezy Dibbles and Wild Factor.[9]

As of 2015 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.[6] The central area of the park, Market Square, 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.[10] Pirates' Cove is a mock up of a cornish cove.[22] Transylvania, although the real city is from Romania, is actually themed to look like Bavaria, Germany with ompha music playing in the village area.[21] Forbidden Kingdom is based on Ancient Egypt with hieroglyphics drawn onto its surroundings.[6] 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.[10]

Among the newer lands is Wild Asia which opened in 2010 as a replacement for Beanoland with an Indian jungle theme.[27] Africa opened in 2012 and is based on a wacky African village for children, while the more serious African reserve ZUFARI opened in 2013.[31]

The park's maximum daily capacity is set to 17,000 guests, and in 2014, the park attracted 2 million people, following the opening of the Scorpion Express rollercoaster and the Azteca Hotel.

Timeline of Park Areas
1987 1988 1990 1994 1999 2000 2004 2007 2010 2012 2013
Market Square
Mystic East
Calamity Canyon Mexicana
Circus World Beanoland Wild Asia
Toy Town Africa
Pirates' Cove
Forbidden Kingdom
Land of the Dragons

Market Square

Market Square is the central area of the park and has the entrance to Safari Skyway, a monorail that opened in 1986 that gives a guided tour of the zoo, lawn and mansion area.[30] The Carousel merry-go-round is located in Market Square, as is the convoy ride Tiny Truckers, 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.[10] In the centre of Market Square is a compass, with different areas of the resort on. It includes: theme park lands, some zoo areas, the Sea Life centre and the hotels. The area has Tudor and early Georgian architecture, as well as hanging baskets and boxed plants.


Mexicana shop fronts

Themed as a Mexican- inspired square and a Far West town in the American's Old West, the Mexicana area was called Calamity Canyon until 1999.[10] Rattlesnake,[40] a steel sit-down Wild Mouse roller coaster, opened in 1998.[18] Scorpion Express is a mine train themed roller coaster that takes riders across the abandoned town of Scorpion Valley, it opened on 19 March 2014, as a headline attraction at the park.

Pirates' Cove

Pirates' Cove is an area adjacent to Transylvania, themed to a Cornish fishing village.[22] 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.[10] Seastorm is a circular family boat ride that simulates a sea storm.[22]

Mystic East

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.[35] Dragon Falls is a 510 foot long log flume ride themed around the legend of Dragons.[28] The station artwork and exterior design follows that of an old Thai palace, with a pagoda style exterior. Peeking Heights opened in 2005,[35] and from the top of the wheel the entire park is visible.[34] Mystic East also has the Extreme Games Zone.[35]


Transylvania shops featuring Bubbleworks.

The Transylvania area was created in 1990,[10] and is still the park's most renowned area. It opened with two major rides designed by John Wardley: the Vampire and Bubbleworks. Vampire is a steel suspended floorless coaster.[21] The original Arrow Dynamics trains were replaced with Vekoma trains during a closed season in 2001, reopening in 2002. Bubbleworks is a Mack Rides dark boat ride that opened in 1990 as Professor Burp's Bubbleworks.[21] A ring-shaped boat holds up to four people and travels with varying speed through the ride.[3][41] It was rethemed in 2006.[27]

The area is split into two sections- the Village and the Vampire Forest. The village follows a happy and light hearted theme with oompah music and street lamps. Various themed stalls can be found around the area where Bubbleworks takes centre stage. The area's features mostly follow an Eastern European setting, with hanging signs and fleur de la filles featuring on the shop fronts. The Vampire forest however has a much more sinister theme. The features Transylvania's second entrance. Several tombstones in the forest have references to past characters from the park's history, Zappomatic and Professor Burp feature among other characters. The forest eventually joins up with the main village by passing through a large archway near to the Vampire entrance.

Forbidden Kingdom

Themed around Ancient Egypt with an obelisk in the centre, Forbidden Kingdom was created in 1994, originally with the Terror Tomb dark ride. It currently has two popular rides; Tomb Blaster and Rameses Revenge. Opening in 2002 Tomb Blaster[27] 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[29] that opened in 1995.[26] Part's of Forbidden Kingdom are themed on an Arabic market town, whilst the courtyard area around Tomb Blaster is set as a camp made from sandstone.

Land of the Dragons

Land of the Dragons in the park's main children's area.[10] Opening in 2004, it is a self-contained, dragon-themed land containing rides and attractions designed to appeal to young children. Being a children's area, it is the only part of the park not themed to a time or place from the world. 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.[42] Aside from the children's attractions, Dragon's Fury is an intense spinning roller coaster encompassing the area with its layout.[17]

Wild Asia

Monkey Swinger in motion.

Wild Asia, opened in early 2010[27] as a wild jungle, featuring theming such as ancient ruins and tribal statues.[25] 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.[25] The area has a number of thrill rides, including KOBRA, a Zamperla flat ride that opened in 2010,[23] Monkey Swinger a wave swinger with a water element that opened in 2000,[24] 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.[25]


Africa is an area aimed at younger families. Its architecture follows a wacky African village, with wonky roofs and misshapen windows. 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 new 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.[5] 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.[10] On the edge of the area is Toadie's Crazy Cars, a children's car tour through Mr Toad's garden.[6]


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.[31] Flying Jumbos is the other attraction in the area. Making up part of the Zufari landscape is the Wanayama Village & Reserve,[43] an African themed area of the zoo. The Zufari planes 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.[31]

Along the pathways of Zufari are various replicas of African art work, specifically when walking to the Wanyama Village. In the centre of the Wanyama section of Zufari is a large stone carving of a lion. A winding waterfall runs along its side.

Chessington Zoo

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.[1] 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.[10] For a time the attracton was called Animal Land, before returning to Chessington Zoo in 2007.[10] 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.[13] 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.[44] 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.[10]

[[File:Sealion Bay Chessington.jpg|thumb|A view of the sea lions in Sealion Bay].] 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.[30] 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.[45] Near the entrance to the Zoo, there are enclosures for otters and reindeer.[44] Chessington Zoo also has an area called Sealion Bay, which features sea lion presentations several times a day and Creepy Caves, a reptile house.[44] The Trails of the Kings; a walkthrough attraction home to enclosures for nine western lowland gorillas, two Sumatran tigers, two Asiatic lions, fossa, Carpathian lynx, and binturong.[44] In 2007 the Trail of the Kings section of the zoo underwent an inspection with the outcome that the gorilla enclosure was too small.[46] 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.[44] 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 and scimitar horned oryx. It is part of the ZUFARI animal reserve.[10] The area is open to guests staying in the Safari Hotel during the evening.

Amazu Treetop Adventure.

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 more unique and 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.

Chessington Sea Life Centre

northern wolf fish in Azteca.

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.[10] 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.[10] It is a slightly smaller version of the same exhibit that has appeared at other Sea Life Centres.[10] It includes red-bellied piranhas, common octopus, tetras and other, smaller exhibits. Azteca opened in 2011,[10] 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

Chessington currently own and operate two hotels - Azteca Hotel and Safari Hotel. Both are connected via a raised glass walkway.

Safari Hotel

Safari Hotel with Wanyama Reserve in foreground.

The Safari Hotel is a four star hotel based on a Safari Lodge. It was originally called the Chessington Hotel, but was renamed to Safari Hotel in 2014 due to the opening of the Azteca Hotel to avoid confusion.[47] The hotel opened in June 2007 and was originally operated by Holiday Inn until it was fully taken over by Chessington in May 2014.[9] The hotel features various African elements with giraffe sculptures dotted around. When the hotel was integrated as a resort in 2010, the Wanyama Village & Reserve opened with access from the hotel. Due to open on 11 April 2015 are Penguins of Madagascar themed rooms. The pre-existing suites have been shut for renovation to become one of the new additions as part of the Year of the Penguins.

Azteca 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 "Tempel Summit") is decorated to give the impression that guests are on top of the temple looks 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 marking. 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 Amazon 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.

Future developments

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 July 2015, Merlin Entertainments submitted a planning application for the erection of thirty one standard and four premium tents as part of a 'Glamping' overnight experience. The proposed plan outlined the temporary use of a field behind the park's Wild Asia area for a maximum of five years. The planned accommodation will also feature the opening of a themed restaurant as part of the development. As of 27 July 2015, advertising for the development began and the project was announced as Explorer Glamping. The new accommodation experience is due to open to the public on 1 May 2016.[48] On Monday 10 August 2015, the addition of a High Ropes Course for the 2016 season was announced. Land recently bought by the resort close to the proposed Explorer Glamping site is indicated as the location for the course on the park map. Other sources claim however that the attraction is being built north of the Safari Hotel. The course will be a second gate addition, meaning it will be separate from the theme park and zoo.[49] 10 August 2015 also announced the addition of a new ride within the Mysic East area of the theme park. No other details of the addition have been released, although it is implied through the park map that the attraction will be located south of Peeking Heights, on land currently occupied by the Extreme Zone.[50][51]

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.[52][53]

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:
Theme park and features
Chessington Zoo

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Leisure/tourism Geographies: Practices and Geographical Knowledge By David Crouch, 1999, Routledge, ISBN 0-415-18109-7
  2. ^ "Chessington: FAQs: Contact information: Merlin Entertainments". Chessington World of Adventures Resort. 
  3. ^ a b c "Transylvania". Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  4. ^ "Wild Asia at Chessington". 
  5. ^ a b c d "What's New at Chessington World of Adventures". Retrieved 3 February 2012.  (Chessington World of Adventures)
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Sehlinger, Bob (22 April 2011). "page". The Unofficial Guide to Britain's Best Days Out, Theme Parks and Attractions (John Wiley & Sons). 
  7. ^ a b Wollaston, Steve (5 May 2013). "Feature: Life has been a rollercoaster for white knuckle ride designer John Wardley".  
  8. ^ "John Wardley Interview". Park World. Retrieved 16 October 2013. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f "Official Park History" (PDF). Chessington World of Adventures. 2013. Retrieved 16 October 2013. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad "History of attractions / timeline: Chessington". Chessington UK. Retrieved 16 October 2013. 
  11. ^ "AECOM Global Attractions Attendance Report 2010" (PDF). Kris Harris. 29 March 2012. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  12. ^ "Special Events at Chessington". Chessington World of Adventures Resort. 
  13. ^ a b c d "Opening Times". Chessington World of Adventures. Retrieved 16 October 2013. 
  14. ^ Halloween (Chessington World of Adventures)
  15. ^ Hocus Pocus 2013 Review (Scare Tour UK)
  16. ^ "Festive Zoo Days: Plan Your Trip". Chessington World of Adventures. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  17. ^ a b c "Dragon's Fury". RCDB. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  18. ^ a b "Rattlesnake - Chessington World of Adventures (Chessington, Surrey, England)". RCDB. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  19. ^ "Runaway Train - Chessington World of Adventures (Chessington, Surrey, England)".  
  20. ^ a b c "Azteca Hotel and Scorpion Express for Chessington in 2014". Theme UK. 2014. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  21. ^ a b c d "Vampire". T-Park. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  22. ^ a b c d "Pirates' Cove". Chessington World of Adventures. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  23. ^ a b "Kobra - Chessington World of Adventures". Coaster Force. 27 June 2011. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  24. ^ a b "Monkey Swinger". Coaster Force. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  25. ^ a b c d e f "Wild Asia". Chessington World of Adventures. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  26. ^ a b "Rameses Revenge Review". T-Park. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  27. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Chessington History". Theme Park Guide. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  28. ^ a b c d "Dragon Falls". Chessington World of Adventures. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  29. ^ a b "Forbidden Kingdom". Chessington World of Adventures. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  30. ^ a b c d e "Market Square". Chessington World of Adventures. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  31. ^ a b c d "Zufari". Chessington World of Adventures. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  32. ^ "Griffin's Galleon". T-Park. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  33. ^ a b "Africa". Chessington World of Adventures. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  34. ^ a b "Peeking Heights". T-Park. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  35. ^ a b c d "Mystic East". Chessington World of Adventures. Retrieved 2 November 2008. 
  36. ^ "Beanoland". ThemeUK. Retrieved 16 October 2013. 
  37. ^ Camden Miniature Steam Services
  38. ^ "". 
  39. ^ "Tomb Blaster". Coaster Force. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  40. ^ "Rattlesnake". Chessington World of Adventures. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  41. ^ "Vampire". Chessington World of Adventures. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  42. ^ "Land of the Dragons". Chessington World of Adventures. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  43. ^ Hilpern, Kate (August 2013). "The 10 Best theme parks".  
  44. ^ a b c d e "Chessington Zoo". Chessington World of Adventures. Retrieved 16 October 2013. 
  45. ^ "Daily Show Times for Chessington World of Adventures & Zoo". Chessington World of Adventures Resort. 
  46. ^ "News report on gorilla enclosure". BBC News. 12 April 2007. Retrieved 17 July 2009. 
  47. ^ "Chessington Azteca Hotel - Opening 2014!". Chessington World of Adventures Resort. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  48. ^
  49. ^
  50. ^
  51. ^
  52. ^ "Chessington World of Adventures fails to ban park safety critic".  
  53. ^ "'"Chessington World of Adventures: criticism of safety record in 'public interest.  

External links

  • Official website
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