Chessington on a School Day
We took advantage of a Friday inset day to visit Chessington on a school day and use the £20 Pre-Schooler offer while Bear is still young enough. With Bunny now hitting the 1.1m mark, we had to pay full price for her, but with the early purchase offer, this was only £27, making the visit very affordable for the three of us. I added in an overnight stay at the Chessington Safari Hotel to create a mini-holiday for the three of us and it really was a brilliant couple of days as Bear’s face confirms!
Once we checked out of the hotel and packed up the car, it was a very short walk to the park entrance. With our pre-printed tickets, we walked straight through the gates and were set to go!
As it was 10.15, we headed straight to the Sea Life Centre, keen to catch a photo opportunity with the Octonauts which Bunny and Bear love. I thought we were too late as there was no sign of them, but we enjoyed looking at all the funny sea creatures that swam past the glass of the aquarium nonetheless.
As we headed back outside and made our way to the next attraction, we were just in time to spot the Octonaut characters in an area just behind the Sea Life Centre. We ran over and I got this fab snap of Bunny holding their hands (and looking thrilled to bits!) before they finished their slot. Good start!
Next we went into Hocus Pocus Hall which wasn’t actually very scary, but used neon and 3D to produce a fun (but not high-tech) walk through experience. Of course, my two were scared, but I couldn’t work out what by, so we made our way through more quickly than I would have liked!
As we queued for each ride/attraction, I used the time to study the resort map to plan where to go next as there are limited rides for small children, although more than enough to fill a day. After a toilet stop, we finally went on a “real ride” as Bunny put it, starting with the Sea Dragons which was a gentle roundabout style ride.
Then began some queuing for Toadie’s Crazy Cars. Bear sat up front and ‘drove’ us round, while Bunny counted Mole’s family that were scattered around the ride. Another gentle one that was enjoyable but not extraordinary.
As we left, we realised we were just in time for the Penguins of Madagascar Live show which was just by the exit, so we grabbed a bench, pulled some snacks and drinks out from under the pushchair and enjoyed the sit down before it began. Bunny enjoyed learning the dance moves before the show and laughed and clapped along with the performance. It was a great live show and didn’t seem to matter too much if you’d not seen the film as the characters were still fun and the story was simple enough to follow.
Of course, by giving the girls some food, once the show was over, they wanted more, so we took a walk to find somewhere to sit and eat our picnic. There was a concrete space with picnic tables but none of us were keen to sit there and I hoped to find some grass to sit on. However, just the other side of this was Sealion Bay with graduated boulder seating for the shows. As we’d just missed it, there was plenty of space for us to sit and eat our picnic while enjoying watching the sealions swimming around in their pool.
Then we made what could have been a bad decision and decided to join the queue for the Seastorm ride. It seemed quite fast compared to the rides we’d been on so far, but the girls insisted they wanted to go on it. Unfortunately, this was the only ride that only allowed two people per carriage so I thought we might have queued for nothing, but Bunny was just tall enough to ride alone and was happy to do so. I was worried sick that she might slide out or panic once it started, but she loved it so much we ended up going back later to ride it again! Maybe my children are more like me than I’d thought after all!
Of course, after that, most of the rides we went on seemed tame, but they still enjoyed them. Bunny ‘drove’ us round the Tiny Truckers track (I think she actually believed she was in control of the steering from her comments) and then I stood between them as they rode ponies on the carousel.
Another first for my growing girls who usually have to sit in a carriage with me!
As we returned to the Treetop Hoppers, Bunny spotted that the Madagascar Penguins show was on again so insisted on sitting outside the queue to watch it again while I queued for the ride with Bear. They both loved this ride too as it made their tummy feel funny as it dropped against gravity, so we had another win!
The afternoon was getting on by now, so we took a wander to the far end of the park to see if we could find any more rides to try. Neither of the girls was interested in going on the Peking Heights big wheel and most of the other attractions in that area weren’t really suitable for small children. We all enjoyed the Jungle Bus though which was another one that made their tummies feel funny!
After an ice cream break (it was a very hot day!), we headed back to Seastorm and then finally joined the queue for the Safari Skyway which was faster than I’d expected. While up on the monorail, we discovered there were gorillas and tigers as well as the animals we’d already seen but unfortunately, we ran out of time to visit them. We wandered over to Griffin’s Galleon and had two goes on that as it was quiet by now and then made our way for the final ride of the day, Bubbleworks. I’d been watching the screens as we’d walked around the park and the queues had been 40 minutes+ most of the day, but with most of the school groups gone, it had reduced to just 15 minutes by the time we got there which was much better with two exhausted little girls! It wasn’t quite as fun as I’d anticipated – there were no actual bubbles – but the girls loved getting wet at the end and this gave it highlight status.
A quick visit to the shop to spend their pocket money and then it was time to head home. Again, getting out of the car park was easy as most of the groups had already left and the hotel car park is smaller.
Despite being a hot July Friday, the park wasn’t too busy and was dominated by school groups on days out (who were being marshalled around by their teachers and didn’t hugely impact on our enjoyment) and young families. In fact, there were lots and lots of children of similar ages to Bear at the park which suggests the Pre-Schooler offer is a popular one!
All in all, it was a great day out for the three of us and I assume it will only get better as the girls get bigger and more ride options open up to them. At the moment, Bear is just over 0.9m tall and Bunny is almost spot on 1.1m. There are very few rides suitable for children under 0.9m which would explain the free entry option, but with the zoo, children’s zoo, Sea Life centre, sea lion and penguin shows, I would imagine there is still more than enough to make for a really good day out, even with smaller children.
Most rides accommodated at least three people, so we didn’t have many situations where we couldn’t go on a ride because we weren’t a traditional two parents, two children family (is that even real nowadays!) which I had worried about beforehand. There is a parent swap option if needed where one parent can ride with their child and then the other (perhaps waiting with a smaller child) can get fast track entry to ride immediately after them – worth asking about if this might apply to you!
If we’d had two days, we may have taken things more slowly and not tried to fit so many rides in, but for a day out, it was fantastic and there wasn’t a dull moment as the queues for the rides we tried were rarely too long to be irritating to little people. If you can go on a school day, I’d certainly recommend it for this reason alone, but if not, spread it out over two days and you should still fit everything in.
For us, just spending some real time together after a number of months barely seeing each other was precious and even made standing in queues enjoyable as we caught up on each other’s lives and talked and talked. Having an excuse to focus entirely on the children for a day was worth every penny and their smiles were the best reward I could have asked for.