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Chessington World of Recycling


Miss CoasterForce 2016
Staff member
Social Media Team
I went to Chessington on Monday and nothing was new.

I mean, there *was* technically a "NEW!" ride in the form of Gruffalo Soldier (in the heart of the Transylvania). But easily-removable cardboard cut out fixtures, screens and leaves on the roof seem like more of a temporary redecoration, than -as Aladin would say- A WHOOOLE NEEEW RIIIDE (don't you dare close your eyes) .

You don't paint your bedroom a different colour and invite everyone round for a housewarming at your NEW FOR 2017 PAD, do you...? Well, Chessington do. A couple of years back, they put a rustic new fireplace in and invited everyone round for a Mexican-themed warming of their "new coaster" ...built in 1987.
And before that, they were dying to show off their new laser guns "use these fancy NEW guns!" they shouted. ("To shoot at scenery which is decades old" - they whispered)

And Dragon Falls...where the themeing falls and never gets replaced. It's that new "minimalist" look, so popular in the 1990's, I believe. Less is more, people, less is more. Unless we're talking Fountains in the Gruffleworks, where less is definitely less. Do not expect enchantment and you shan't be disappointed! When riding the Gruffalo, I found myself remembering what quirks used to lie beneath the cardboard facades, rather than enjoying the new sights in all their cardboardy stillness.
Don't get me wrong, I didn't hate it. It just feels like a very half-arsed transformation (from a Merlin park? NO WAY?!) like when a naturally brunette girl dyes her hair a slightly different shade of brown. "Did you notice my new themeing?" asked the animatronic Gruffalo, flicking his fur over his shoulder. "Ohh, er, yes, Bubbleworks. That is a very subtle shade of brown."

I mean, I know all parks employ the 'existing upgrades' approach - why pay all that money to build a new ride from scratch when you can give an old one a snazzy new hair-do for half the price. But Chessington, my God, everything feels recycled!

I wondered 'What's next?' as my ribs slammed into the lap bars on the Rattlebrake run. VR on Vampire? ...The VRampire? NEW FOR 2018! Wizards of Waverly Place retheme of Hocus Pocus Hall? ...Now, there's an out-of-date IP...better snap it up, Chessington, so it can be NEW AND EVEN LESS RELEVANT FOR 2019!

Discount Lion Zufari aside, I wonder if they'll ever build anything new again?

But, here's the thing: maybe they don't need to. When have you ever *not enjoyed* Chessington? If Thorpe is the flashy / trashy Thrill Capital, Chessington is the pretty park-next-door. Beige, un-intimidating, pleasant. I mean, you could take your mum to Chessington.

With this mindset, I figured it was the perfect place to introduce my new boyfriend to the world of theme parks (which was the main purpose of this trip) because if he hated the rides, there's a very nice zoo and some decent animal talks to fill the time. Not to mention that the park is just nice to wander around. We could go for a romantic meal at Pizza Pasta Buffet and then get pooed on by a Lorikeet. The opportunities are endless.

Luckily, he didn't hate the rides. Luckily there was no one there, every ride a walk on. So we had a lovely, relaxed day of looking at lion cubs (so adorable), riding the coasters for a bit and watching animal talks; and he came away thinking that this chilled-out day is what a day at a theme park with an enthusiast usually is like (MWAHAHAHA!)

When he said he "particularly enjoyed the final turns of Vampire in the back row" I gleefully rubbed my hands together and wondered if I had a fellow goon in the making. Watch this space.

Don't watch Chessington's space, they're not going to build anything new on it.


Staff member
Social Media Team
Hahah, brilliant. Thanks for the chuckle after a long day at work, Serena! :D


Donkey in a hat
If only all trip reports were as entertaining as that one. So many puns, you're like the Jimmy Carr of goons. Loved it!


Hyper Poster
You've summed it up well, it is very bland but also very pleasant. Weirdly I'm actually taking my mum there today.

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Social Media Team
Social Media Team
And I thought I hated Chessington...

I find it weird to do this, but I'm going to defend both Chessington and Merlin here, and Gruffalo is fab. With everything Merlin do, there's a tight budget, and what they've got for that is really great.

Apart from the ride system it has no semblance of Bubbleworks about it - they've just reused the ride system, this isn't another Tomb Blaster scenario everything apart from the trough is completely different. This happens all the time with dark rides, why would you not keep the perfectly functional ride system but make it feel and look like a new ride again?

Chessington is not a great park but, come on, just going out your way to rip into it and the people that have produced a stellar new ride for you seems a bit... nasty?
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Miss CoasterForce 2016
Staff member
Social Media Team
But...I'm not ripping into it? I'm talking about having a lovely, relaxed day and how perhaps Chessington doesn't need to change?

Gruffalo-wise, it was parts like the circle holes where the rollercoaster ducks used to be that has just had still, Gruffalo facades placed over them. Felt familiar. I guess it's the trouble with when you remember what used to be there, it's hard not to still kind of see it, unless the inside is completely unrecognisable.


Coaster MILF
Having visited at the weekend I completely agree with your thoughts on Gruffalo Serena. When even 6/7 year olds are pointing out the cardboard (it's really obvious in the queue as your about to board) then it does make it seem really half-arsed.
I've always had a soft spot for Chessie but can't help but feel that the rose tinted goggles are starting to fade a bit. It's all been a bit too samey for too long now.
Great report as always!


CF Legend
Did you ride the Adventure Tree Rachel? I think it looks faaaab I don't get why more people aren't praising it!

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Coaster MILF
No because the queue was ridiculous!
It does look fab I agree, but it's not really something that's gonna get me feeling excited about the park.


Coaster MILF
Yea I did get a good photo of it but didn't see any fountains working - i'll post it later as I can't at work.
EDIT - figured it out!

This was taken at like 6.30 though once everything was closed. The detail is incredible, reminds me a bit of the Tree of Life.


Giga Poster
Great report! I'm taking Liz here next week so I'll be sure not to get her hopes up too much.

Maybe Chessington are slowly getting rid of anything that could be a fire risk, hence the lack of walls on Dragon Falls. And the fiberglass facade on Scorpion Train or whatever it's called now. I expect Rameses' Revenge and Vampire have their days numbered because of how old and expensive they are to look after.

I know Gruffalo won't be as fab as Professor Burp's Bubbleworks, but I hope it makes up for having to put up with Imperial Leather Bubbleworks for 10 years or so.