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Chessington World of Adventures

Chessington World of Adventures Resort is a theme park, zoo and hotel complex in Chessington, Greater London, England, around 12 miles (19 km) southwest of Central London. The complex opened as Chessington Zoo in 1931, with the theme park being developed alongside the zoo by The Tussauds Group and opening on 7 July 1987, as one of the first themed amusement parks in Britain.[1] The theme park, which features over 40 rides, is now owned by Merlin Entertainments,[2] following its merger with The Tussauds Group in 2007.[3] 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 World of Adventures Resort
CWOAR Logo.png
SloganBritain's Wildest Adventure!
LocationChessington, Greater London, England
Coordinates51°20′55″N 0°19′00″W / 51.34861°N 0.31667°W / 51.34861; -0.31667Coordinates: 51°20′55″N 0°19′00″W / 51.34861°N 0.31667°W / 51.34861; -0.31667
OwnerMerlin Entertainments
General ManagerTim Harrison-Jones
(Divisional Director)
Opened1931 (as zoo)
6 July 1987 (as theme park)
Previous namesChessington Zoo, Chessington World of Adventures & Zoo
Operating seasonTheme Park:
Visitors per annumIncrease 1.6 million (2018)
Roller coasters4
Water rides2
StatusTheme Park
Chessington Zoo
Sea Life Centre

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 loosely styled on a range of world cultures. Adventure Point is an English Market Square, Mexicana borrows from the Wild West, Pirates' Cove a smuggling port, Wild Woods a European street with Bavarian architecture, Forbidden Kingdom mirrors Egypt and Arabia, while Land of the Tiger reflects the orient, and Wild Asia an Indian jungle.[4] Major attractions include: Vampire, Dragon's Fury, KOBRA, Tiger Rock, Scorpion Express, Zufari: Ride into Africa! and The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure.


Burnt Stub Mansion is the original manor house of the estate.

The mansion at Chessington World of Adventures Resort known today as the Burnt Stub was originally built in 1348, in Chessington, Surrey.[5] 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 zooEdit

The resort has its roots in the Chessington Zoo, which opened in 1931; it was started by Reginald Stuart Goddard, who had bought the estate to showcase his private collection of animals.[5] It was once the largest private zoo in England.[6] In 1946 when Goddard died, the Pearson Publishing Company took over the zoo and managed it until 1978, when The Tussauds Group, a subsidiary of the Pearson Group,[7] took control of the park.[8]

Founding of theme parkEdit

In 1984, due to the zoo's declining attendance, Tussauds's commissioned John Wardley to come up with plans to revitalize the park.[9] Wardley had a huge influence on the rides being created at both Chessington and its sister parks Thorpe Park and Alton Towers.[10] The decision was made to open a theme park to complement the zoo, and so Chessington World of Adventures was born.[11] On 7 July 1987 Chessington World of Adventures opened to the public in a ceremony including HRH Prince Edward.[12] The park was built on a relatively small budget of around £12 million, to test the still-emerging theme park 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). Smuggler's Galleon (a swinging ride) reached heights of 20 meters; it was later renamed Black Buccaneer.[13]

The new park development adopted a pay-once price structure as opposed to the fairground's former pay-per-ride format. Other support rides were also opened and the park opened five themed areas: Calamity Canyon, Mystic East, Market Square, Toy Town and Circus World.[citation needed]

The 1990 season expanded Chessington with the opening of the Transylvania area, featuring The Vampire and Prof. Burp's Bubble Works.[14] Both of these major rides had significant impact on the park's popularity. By this time Smugglers' Galleon and the Smugglers' Cove area had been created, both opening in 1988.[14]

The 1995 season arrived with Rameses Revenge, the park's first inverting ride. Rameses Revenge was new in the Forbidden Kingdom area;[5] an area which had opened the previous year in conjunction with the Terror Tomb dark ride. Also new for 1995 was Seastorm in Pirates' Cove, and the Carousel,[14] located next to the explorer gate.[5] 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.[14]

Development as resortEdit

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.[15] 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:[5] Thorpe Park caters to teenagers, while Chessington World of Adventures Resort is for families and people of all ages.[16] In June 2007, the park opened the Safari Hotel next to the Chessington Zoo, themed to a safari lodge.[16] 2008 saw the opening of the Chessington Sea Life Centre.

Also in 2010, the Wanyama reserve was opened, giving the Africa-themed Safari hotel guests a view of animals[17] The Wild Asia area was also added, with its KOBRA ride.[12] 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.[18] In 2013, Chessington introduced Zufari: Ride Into Africa, with visitors touring the area in a safari truck.[18] In the same year, the annual Halloween Hocus Pocus event included a new attraction, The Mystery of Hocus Pocus Hall, featuring projection-mapped visual effects.

In 2014, "nearly £15 million" was invested in the resort as the whole, with a new wing built next to the Safari Hotel, advertised as a second standalone hotel, named "Azteca Hotel".[17] The Safari Hotel also received a second pool.[12] Theme park developments for the year included the refurbishment of the Runaway Train roller coaster as Scorpion Express and Amazu Treetop Adventure, a children's raised play area within the zoo. The park's annual Halloween event was rebranded Howl'O'Ween. Over the festive period Chessington launched the new Winter's Tail event, featuring a new seasonal show A Christmas Gift, as well as market stalls and a 60 ft Christmas tree. Attendance rose to 2.05 million guests in 2014, the second highest figure in the park's history, which previously peaked in 1995.

2015 was advertised as "Year of the Penguins", introducing an updated Penguins of Madagascar Live: Operation Cheezy Dibbles show on the Madagascar stage, a rethemed "Jungle Bouncers" as "Penguins of Madagascar Mission: Treetop Hoppers" (since reverted to Berry Bouncers) and "Penguin Bay", a refurbished enclosure for the Zoo's Humboldt penguins. New Penguins of Madagascar themed suites also opened in the Safari Hotel. 2015 also saw the Chessington Conservation Fund Evening relaunched as "Roar & Explore". The new event features night rides on Zufari: Ride into Africa! as well as child-friendly activities. Chessington's attendance fell this year to 1.65 million. The long-running Safari Skyway monorail closed midway through the year, after 29 years of service.

Little was changed during the 2016 season, a small live show named Pandamonium opened near the 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. Tomb Blaster was refurbished with all LED UV lighting and new laser gun system, although the changes were met negatively.

In 2017, The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure opened, replacing Bubbleworks, as well as the original Carousel being replaced with a newer, themed carousel named "The Chessington Adventure Tree".

In 2018, they removed the ferris wheel Peeking Heights and rethemed the Mystic East area into Land of the Tiger, with three new tiger enclosures, four tigers from Kolmården Wildlife Park, and a new theme for Dragon Falls, with its new name Tiger Rock.

In 2019, they rethemed their old 3D walkthrough attraction, Hocus Pocus Hall, into another one of Julia Donaldson's creations, Room on the Broom - A Magical Journey. Halfway through the season, Chessington announced that their swinging boat ride, Black Buccaneer, would not open for 2019. In October, Chessington announced that Rameses Revenge would close on the 3rd November.


As of 2019, Chessington operates four annual continuing events; Animal Adventures, Roar & Explore, Howl'o'ween, and Winter's Tail. The first is Animal Adventures, a February Half-term event. For the week the Chessington Zoo opens as well as selected rides.

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 the resort opens with Christmas decoration and a Christmas grotto 'village' next to Sea Lion Bay. Parts of the theme park are open, with 2018's event seeing Vampire head a lineup bigger than ever before. The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure, Black Buccaneer, Seastorm, The Chessington Adventure Tree and Tiny Truckers all opened alongside the zoo. A festive show named The Gruffalo's Christmas Groove is performed several times throughout the day as well as the chance to decorate cookies in The Gruffalo Kitchen.


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.[19] Some actors also roam the theme park and zoo dressed as witches, vampires and zombies.[20] During the event, halloween themed attractions open, rides also operate in the dark.[21]

Seasonal Howl'o'ween attractions as of 2018
  • Haunted Howl'O'Ween Live is a live show in the Gruffalo Arena in the Africa Section of the park. New for 2018, the show features singers and dancers in a Halloween musical extravaganza.
  • Creepy Caves Unearthed is advertised as the scariest Halloween attraction offered. New for 2017, Creepy Caves Unearthed won the SCARECON 2017 Award for Best Original Concept and Design and was nominated for Best Set/Costume and Make Up.
  • The Room on the Broom Spooky Story Time is a live show based on the children's book written by Julia Donaldson.
  • The Curse of The Lost Tomb is a brand scare maze constructed inside the Adventure Outpost Restaurant in Wild Asia. First opening in 2015, It is based upon the lost tomb of Genghis Khan, with the key theme being whether the secrets of Genghis Khan would be revealed, or whether the tomb would claim all of those who entered. The maze features a mixture of challenges and light scares.
  • Trick or Treat Wood - Topsy Turvy was designed for younger adventurers, and they had to choose which path they wanted to take, one for a trick or one for a treat. Along the way enchanted fairies and ghostly goblins would guide them. This was new for 2015.
  • Fancy Dress Competition this was new 2015, and was judged daily in Africa.
Past Halloween Hocus Pocus (now named Howl'o'ween) attractions
  • Vampire: The Haunting in the Hollows is based on the fictional Transylvanian village of Black Hollow. Guests encounter several characters such as a gravedigger in the first half. Guests then visit the crypt of the forsaken and encounter a several vampires, guests then escape through a strobe lit maze. It was due to return for the 2015 season, but was suddenly and unexpectedly pulled from the lineup.
  • The Mystery of Hocus Pocus Hall is the signature attraction at Howl'o'ween. It involves guests visiting Stubb Manor, the home of explorer Sir Arthur Stubbs, in an attempt to uncover what caused his sudden disappearance. The attraction includes scenes based on different areas of the park and zoo, such as Wild Asia, Atlantis, Forbidden Kingdom and Pirates' Cove. The entire attraction is based around an emerald, which guests journey through the 'core' of as the finale.
  • The Pumpkin High School of Rock is a new stage show based around an underworld rock competition. It did not return for 2015.
  • The Hair and Scary Show is an insect based new live show about two characters - Hairy and Scary. It did not return for 2015.
  • The Krypt was a live scaremaze based on the Wild Asia area, launched in 2011, it never returned for Halloween due to a very poor throughput and high running costs.
  • Black Forest Haunt was a walkthrough based around a vampire in Transylvania. First opening in 2009, the Black Forest Haunt lasted three years until it was replaced by Vampire: The Haunting in the Hollows in 2012.
  • Burt & Bilge's Big Bad Boo was a stage show based in Market Square, it followed Burt and Bilge as they tried to capture the ghost of Market Square - the Big Bad Boo. Lasting two years starting in 2012, and giving its final performance in 2013.
  • Hocus Pocus Hall: Bewitched was similar to the year-round attraction Hocus Pocus Hall, with the exception that it featured live actors. The attraction lasted many years and closed at the end of 2012. It was replaced by The Mystery of Hocus Pocus Hall.
  • Spook Factor was a stage show held in the Land of the Dragon's theatre during Halloween Hocus Pocus. Replaced by the Hairy and Scary Show.
  • The Scooby-Doo event was what the original Halloween Hocus Pocus event was based on, featuring attractions such as The Mystery Machine and a Scooby-Doo meeting point. It was replaced in 2006 by a Star Wars based event.
  • The Star Wars event was held during the 2006 Halloween Hocus Pocus event to replace the previous Scooby-Doo based attractions. Due to a poor reception, the event never returned. Instead new attractions were conceived for following events.

One-off eventsEdit

  • 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.
  • African Adventures - The February half term event for many years up until 2015, this event saw African tribal dancers and street explorers can be found roaming and interacting with guests, as well as African artwork and creative activities dotted around the park.
  • 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, however, it was adapted for a more general event under the same name from 2017.

Rides and attractionsEdit

Roller coastersEdit

Name Picture Type Opened Area Manufacturer Additional information
Dragon's Fury   Steel spinning coaster 2004 Land of the Dragons Maurer Söhne Family spinning rollercoaster. 1771 ft long track (540m);[22] Xtended CS 3000 model.[22]
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 (370 m) and a height of 49 ft (15 m).[23]
Scorpion Express   Steel sit down coaster 1987 Mexicana Mack Rides Blauer Enzian model. Opened in 1987, as Runaway Train.[24] Family rollercoaster themed around an abandoned mining town that has been taken over by scorpions.[25] Themed as an old gold mine, the ride features a large animated metal scorpion that sprays water at riders as they pass. In the centre of the ride is an oil derrick with flame effect.
Vampire   Suspended floorless coaster 1990 Wild Woods Arrow Dynamics / Vekoma Originally an Arrow suspended swinging coaster, but refurbished with floorless Vekoma trains in 2002. Reaches a speed of 45 mph (73 km) on a 2200 ft long track (670 m);[26]

Flat ridesEdit

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). Has been closed for the 2019 season however.[27]
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.[28]
Monkey Swinger   Wave swinger 2000 Wild Asia Zierer[29] A large monkey-themed wave swinger ride with a water element. Originally opened as Billy's Whizzer.[30]
Rameses Revenge   Top Spin 1995 Forbidden Kingdom Huss Rides Top Spin with a water element, and the first to feature its staple 'drown-upside-down'.[31] Its opening year of 1995 saw 2.1 million visitors, the highest in the park's history. Set to close on the 3rd November 2019 to be replaced by a droptower.
Seastorm   Sea Storm ride 1995 Pirates' Cove Mack Rides A Mack SeaStorm [32] 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 and dark ridesEdit

Name Picture Type Opened Area Manufacturer Additional information
Tiger Rock   Flume ride 2018 Land of the tiger Mack Rides Water ride featuring two drops, one into a tunnel and one through a tiger mouth. The ride is Oriental themed, originally named Dragon River, and opened with the original theme park development in 1987.[33]
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.[34]

Children's ridesEdit

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[33]
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.[35]
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.[36]
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.[33]
Tiny Truckers   Convoy ride 1994 Adventure Point Zamperla Small driving attraction that usually makes two laps of its course.[37]
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 1987 Africa Zamperla Driving attraction, themed around Wind in the Willows. All ages, children under 1.1 meters must be accompanied by an adult.[38]

Live showsEdit

Name Picture Type Opened Area Manufacturer Additional information
The Gruffalo Groove N/A Live Show 2018 Africa Chessington Entertainments Team 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 Chessington Entertainments Team Interactive show about insects. Previously held in Market Square before moving in 2012.

Other attractionsEdit

Name Picture Type Opened Area Manufacturer Additional information
Room on the Broom — A Magical Journey   House of mirrors 2019 Burnt Stub Mansion Merlin Magic Making A walkaround attraction based on the children's book by Julia Donaldson.[1] Visitors to the walk-in mansion under 1.1 meter must be accompanied by an adult.[37]
Lorikeet Lagoon   Bird enclosure 2010 Wild Asia Merlin Magic Making Visitors can feed nectar to a flock of lorikeets in a walk-in space.[30]
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.
Zufari: Ride into Africa!   Guided safari 2013 ZUFARI Merlin Magic Making An off-road safari truck tour that takes riders into the plains of Zufari.[30] Increased annual park attendance by 15.4%.

Past attractionsEdit

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.[32]

  • The Fun City Show tent, housing circus/stunt entertainment, was demolished in 1999 to make way for Beanoland to open the next season.[citation needed]
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,[32] featuring Billy's Whizzer, Dennis' Madhouse, Roger the Dodger's Dodgems and Bash Street Bus.[39] The area was rethemed into Wild Asia in 2010 with all rides intact and the addition of KOBRA to the area.
  • Runaway Train was a mine train themed powered roller coaster in the Mexicana area. Opened in 1987,[14] and closed at the end of 2012. Replaced by Scorpion Express.[25]
  • 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.[14]
  • Magic Carpet was located in the Mystic East area, opening in 1988 and closed at the end of the 1998 season.[14] Samurai (see below) was installed in its place.
  • Samurai was a Mondial Top Scan installed in 1999 and closed in 2003 in Mystic East,[14] 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.[40]
  • Chessington Railroad (2 ft / 610 mm narrow gauge)[41] left at the end of 1996.[14] 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.[citation needed]
  • 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.[14] It remained closed until being removed altogether in 2007. The ride's centerpiece of a cowboy on horseback was repurposed as a prop in Vampire.
  • Toytown Roundabout was also removed at the end of 1999. The more traditional carousel,[14] which had been open since 1996 close to the park's north entrance,[citation needed] took its place.[14]
  • Clown Coaster, formerly Toy Town Coaster, was a very small children's roller coaster. It was removed to make way for the new Berry Bouncers ride which took its place in 2001.[14]
  • Prof. Burp's Bubble Works was a famed 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, featuring a unique fountain finale ending. The original version was produced by Keith Sparks and John Wardley.[32]
  • Imperial Leather Bubbleworks was a dark water ride opened in 2006, succeeding the original Prof. Burp's Bubble Works. It took rides through a 'soap factory', with most its scenes heavily modified from the original attraction and now sponsored by Imperial Leather. The ride closed in September 2016 to make way for The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure.
  • The Fifth Dimension was a dark ride that opened in 1987 and closed in 1993,[citation needed] based around the story of a TV repair robot[42] named Zappomatic and his quest to defeat the computer-created monster, the Gorg. Replaced by Terror Tomb.
  • Terror Tomb (later renamed Forbidden Tomb) was a dark ride opened in 1994, replacing The Fifth Dimension.[14] 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. It was succeeded by Tomb Blaster in 2001. Several of the original sets remain in Tomb Blaster, 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 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.[38] 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.
  • 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 10 September 2017 in order to make way for new tiger enclosures as part of the retheme of Mystic East to Land of the Tiger for 2018.
  • Hocus Pocus Hall was a walkthrough attraction located in the Burnt Stub Mansion which opened in 2003 but closed in 2018 to be replaced by Room on the Broom: A Magical Journey.

Theme parkEdit

Compass in the centre of Adventure Point, with each area in the resort labelled.

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.[25] Shows include Wild Factor and Pandamonium, which is seasonal only showing in the summer from 2017 onwards.[16]

The theme park comprises ten themed lands, each with a cultural setting.[5] 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.[14] Pirates' Cove is a mock up of a Cornish cove.[27] Wild Woods is modeled on a central European high street with Bavaria in Germany and the Transylvania region of Romania as its key influences.[26] Forbidden Kingdom is based on Ancient Egypt with hieroglyphics carved onto its surroundings.[5] 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.[14]

Among the newer lands is Wild Asia which opened in 2010 as a replacement for Beanoland with an Indian jungle theme.[32] In 2017, the existing Transylvania area was renamed "Wild Woods" in conjunction with the opening of The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure. In 2018, Mystic East will be renamed "Land of the Tiger", with the addition of new tiger enclosures and the partial refurbishment of Dragon Falls as Tiger Rock.

Timeline of Park Areas
1987 1988 1990 1994 1999 2000 2004 2007 2010 2012 2013 2017 2018
Market Square Adventure Point
Mystic East Land of the Tiger
Calamity Canyon Mexicana
Circus World Beanoland Wild Asia
Toy Town Africa
Pirates' Cove
Transylvania Wild Woods
Forbidden Kingdom
Land of the Dragons

Adventure PointEdit

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[37] 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. In the centre of Adventure 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 2017.


Mexicana shop fronts

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.[14] Rattlesnake,[43] a steel sit-down Wild Mouse roller coaster, opened in 1998.[23] 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 with new theming and is renamed 'Scorpion Express'.

Pirates' CoveEdit

Pirates' Cove is an area adjacent to Adventure Point, originally themed to a Cornish fishing village.[27] 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, however, Chessington confirmed on social media that the ride will be standing but not operating for the 2019 season.[14] Seastorm is a circular family boat ride that simulates a sea storm.[27]

Land of the TigerEdit

Until the end of the 2017 season named "Mystic East", this is an oriental-themed area built around the Tiger Rock log flume (previously Dragon River).[44]

In July 2017, Chessington filed for planning permission to partially redesign the area to include new tiger enclosures, including walkways over guests' heads, and a new themed feature for the log flume, to be renamed Tiger Rock. The park's ferris wheel Peeking Heights was demolished to make way for the tiger enclosures. The area closed for redevelopment on 10 September 2017, and is set to reopen in 2018. The ride has two drops, one with a rock tunnel, the other going through a tiger rock mouth.The area has been re-decorated and re-designed, with a new entrance by dragons fury.

Wild WoodsEdit

Transylvania shops featuring Bubbleworks.

The area, originally named 'Transylvania', was created in 1990,[14] modeled on a mock Barvarian town street, with tall European Architecture. It opened with two major attractions, The Vampire and Prof. Burp's BubbleWorks. Vampire is a steel suspended floorless coaster.[26] The original Arrow Dynamics trains were replaced with Vekoma trains during a closed season in 2001, reopening in 2002.[45][46] 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.[32] Bubbleworks closed on 6 September 2016 and was replaced by The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure in March 2017, prompting the rename of the area to 'Wild Woods', whilst retaining the European street theme.

The area was created as a quaint, 'Central-European' town square to one side, where the entrance to Prof. Burp's BubbleWorks, shops and eateries were located amongst the town buildings, then a path set back from the town leads to the castle entrance of The Vampire. After the park's various changes of management, the area was repeatedly changed in a 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, the park renamed Transylvania to "Wild Woods", in relation to the Gruffalo River Ride Adventure attraction opening that year, though the area itself was largely unchanged.[47]

Forbidden KingdomEdit

An Ancient Egyptian area, Forbidden Kingdom was created in 1994 originally opening with the Terror Tomb dark ride. It currently has two popular rides; Tomb Blaster and Rameses Revenge. Opening in 2002 Tomb Blaster[32] is a dark ride shoot out game where riders shoot laser guns at targets and is a retheme of the 'Terror Tomb' dark ride. Rameses Revenge is a Top Spin ride with a water element[34] that opened in 1995.[31] One side of Forbidden Kingdom is architecturally designed as an Arabic market town, while Tomb Blaster is set in an Ancient Egyptian courtyard tomb area, though much detail has been removed throughout the area over the years.

Land of the DragonsEdit

Land of the Dragons is the park's main children's area.[14] 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.[48] Aside from the children's attractions, Dragon's Fury is an intense spinning roller coaster encompassing the area with its layout.[22]

Wild AsiaEdit

Monkey Swinger in motion.

Wild Asia, opened in early 2010[32] as a loosely Indian-themed jungle area, with temple ruins and ancient statues the area is a retheme of the old 'Beanoland' area themed to the popular Beano children's comic books.[30] 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.[30] The area has a number of thrill rides, including KOBRA, a Zamperla flat ride that opened in 2010,[28] Monkey Swinger a wave swinger with a water element that opened in 2000,[29] 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.[30]


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 popular 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.[18] 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.[14] On the edge of the area is Toadie's Crazy Cars, a children's car tour through Mr Toad's garden.[5]


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.[35] Flying Jumbos is the other attraction in the area. Making up part of the ZUFARI landscape is the Wanayama Village & Reserve,[49] 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.[35]

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.[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.[14] For a time the attraction was called Animal Land, before returning to Chessington Zoo in 2007.[14]

The zoo is generally open simultaneously with the theme park, but also remains open over the winter when the theme park is closed.[21] Zoo entrance is included with the standard ticket price.

As of 2015 the zoo has over 1,000 animals, many of which are endangered and some being extinct in the wild.[50] 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.[14]

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.[37] The ride closed in 2015 due to cost of continued maintenance. An animal presentation in front of the Burnt Stub Mansion hosts the Animal Antics show at different times throughout the day.[51] Near the entrance to the Zoo, there are enclosures for otters and reindeer.[50] Chessington Zoo also has an area called Sealion Bay, which features sea lion presentations several times a day and Creepy Caves, a reptile house.[50]

Lion enclosure in Trail of the Kings.

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.[50] In 2007 the Trail of the Kings section of the zoo underwent an inspection with the outcome that the gorilla enclosure was too small.[52] A bigger building for the gorillas was completed in 2010.[citation needed] As of 2013, there are 10 gorillas at chessington, as well as two infants born in 2012.[50]

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 lovebird, crested porcupine, meerkats, scimitar horned oryx, common eland and Ankole cattle. It is part of the ZUFARI animal reserve.[14] The area is open to guests staying in the Safari Hotel during the evening.

Amazu with Azteca Hotel behind.

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 CentreEdit

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.[14] 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.[14] It is a slightly smaller version of the same exhibit that has appeared at other Sea Life Centres.[14] It includes red-bellied piranhas, common octopus, tetras and other, smaller exhibits.

Azteca opened in 2011,[14] 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.


Currently, Chessington World of Adventures operate two on-site hotels and a Glamping experience.

Safari HotelEdit

Safari Hotel with Wanyama Reserve in foreground.

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.[53]

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.[16] 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.

Azteca HotelEdit

Front of the Azteca Hotel as seen from Safari Skyway

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.

Explorer GlampingEdit

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.

Future developmentsEdit

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, a long term development plan draft was displayed for public feedback. The plans highlighted the installation of a new roller coaster, possibly two; a major attraction in 'Africa' as well as a feature close by the Burnt Stub Mansion. 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.[54]

2014 court caseEdit

In September 2012, a four-year-old girl fell 4.2 metres (nearly 14') while in line waiting for a ride. The park was summonsed by Health and Safety Executive which claimed a health and safety breach.[55] In the same month, park owner Merlin Entertainments initiated a court case to seek an injunction against Peter Cave, owner of survey consultancy Peer Egerton Limited. The consultancy firm had been hired by Merlin to prepare a report on the safety of the park, after the 2012 accident. Cave's firm 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.[56]

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 the £4.6 million on repairs and improvements that Cave had recommended and named the allegations "baseless".[57] But High Court Judge Elisabeth Laing ruled that the campaign was a "matter of public interest" and refused the injunction to silence Cave.[58][59]

Green belt restrictionsEdit

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.[citation needed]

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 cannot operate Vampire past 11pm. The resort was not allowed to building anything higher than the Peeking Heights Ferris Wheel but that has since been removed from the park.


Main gallery: Chessington World of Adventures Resort at WikiCommons
Theme park and features
Chessington Zoo

See alsoEdit


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  55. ^ the
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External linksEdit