I thought when I haven’t vlogged a day out, I’d do a little trip report on here instead – this is my first! On Monday 26th June, Vicki and I swung by Chessington World of Adventures Resort after a lovely stay at Mollies Motel in Oxford. It wasn’t really a ‘get there at opening and do ALL the rides’ type of day – I had two main objectives: go on Croc Drop and of course, the new B&M Coaster – Mandrill Mayhem! This had been our first trip here since before the pandemic, so it felt like a lot had changed – more on that later.
Mandrill Mayhem is their big new ride for 2023, and they are dealing with the queue for it, in a ‘different’ way. They have a ‘Virtual Queue‘, which you can join from 9.45am on the day of your visit, this is all done on a very nice mobile friendly website. Then, when your time arrives, you get a QR code, and head over to the ride. I was expecting that you’d just be able to jump onto a short queue and go on the ride. This isn’t the case – once your time has come, you’re ushered into the MAIN QUEUE, where you can wait between 1-2 hours to get on the ride.
You can’t join the main queue without having ‘waited’ in the virtual queue – it feels a little daft really. I assume it’s because the queue line for Mandrill Mayhem isn’t very long, and it will keep that down to a manageable length.
The World of Jumanji is really nicely done, I love how Mandrill Mayhem swoops around the area, and over the entrance too. As well as Mandrill Mayhem there are two other rides, Ostrich Stampede and Mamba Strike, which, to be honest are just nicely themed fairground rides, so I wasn’t as bothered waiting in queues for them.
Mandrill Mayhem itself is a lot of fun, like The Swarm at Thorpe Park in the early years of operation, it has the back (or is it front?) row facing backwards. We had our first (and only) ride on this row. You are launched backwards out of the station, then shoot back through it (like a Vekoma Boomerang), and fly around the track. Once the track twists around the Jaguar idol that looks across The World of Jumjani, you do the ride again, backwards, and glide back into the station.
I really enjoyed it – the ride looks awesome, the theming is great, the station lighting is done really well too – clearly a lot of thought has gone into it. The ride experience itself was good – quite thrilling for something aimed at younger guests! However, I was surprised how it wasn’t as smooth as The Swarm is. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not like riding Colossus at Thorpe Park – however, the trademark B&M Wing Coaster smoothness just doesn’t feel *fully* there. I did wonder if I was imagining it, but I went on The Swarm this week, and that is still a LOT smoother.
Away from the World of Jumanji, it was lovely to see the pirate ship (now known as Blue Barnacle), looking glorious, with a 20-minute or so queue. I love pirate ships so much, they are such basic, old-fashioned rides. Just watching everyone of all shapes, sizes, and ages having a blast really is glorious. I had a real ‘moment’ on this ride – it’s so good being able to go on rides fully after my surgery.
Elsewhere around the park – Chessington is looking good, they’ve spent a lot of time, money, and effort making the place look amazing. Whilst it might not be as stunning as some of the parks you’d see elsewhere in the world, they have definitely made it look so much better than it was. I wish all the Merlin Parks had put this much effort in recently. *looks towards Staffordshire*
My next ‘must do’ was Croc Drop – my first time seeing it in the flesh, and having a ride on it, the continuity of theming between the area was perfect, it looked so good! The ride area music was a little quiet, so the atmosphere was a little lacking – as the doors into the ride station opened, I was feeling really excited. That subsided almost instantly – my god, that ride is shit – I *know* it’s meant to be aimed at a younger audience, but – yikes, there’s just no ‘thrill’ to it. The ‘drops’ don’t really give you that fun ‘tummy dropping’ sensation, it’s just a big bag of ‘meh’ – I genuinely feel there’s more excitement in the Treetop Hopper around the corner. Plus, the ride audio was SO quiet, any suspense or thrill that it was trying to create is lost.
It’s very sad to see that Scorpion Express is still down, nearly for a year now. Rumours suggest the motor in the lead car had caught fire, and had caused a bit of damage, this has now been replaced, but further issues have arisen with the ride. All of this feels very plausible – but, I do worry the days of the ride could be numbered. It’s one of the oldest there. Whilst on Croc Drop, I could see the train on the track – but the area looked pretty dead.
We took the opportunity to have a proper look around the rest of the park, Land of the Tiger was all new to us, as well the Rainforest too. It’s all looking amazing – they’ve used the areas and spaces so well! Again, Chessington’s theming and design is looking incredible!
As the park was full of school trips, the queue times were MAD, I didn’t want to spend the relatively short amount of time there in queues, so we grabbed a few one shot Fast Track tickets. Specifically for Vampire and Dragons Fury – I’d have got one for Rattlesnake too, but that’s not an option. Dragon’s Fury seemed to be having a bit of a nightmare that day, the ride was on and off like a doggers car’s interior light! We went to join the Fast track queue for the Vampire. We found it full of folks who’d just been handed complimentary fast track after being sent out of the Dragon’s Fury queue line. The queue was VERY slow going – only one train was in operation, which really slows things down.
I’ve hesitated about writing this next bit because, well online shaming isn’t cool – so I’ve anonymized details slightly (no gender or descriptions of appearance). However, while queuing for the Vampire, I came across one of the WORST employees I’ve seen at a Merlin theme park. The person in question marched back through the queue line, screaming (and I mean SCREAMING) at guests to MOVE OVER. They then went to shout at another member of staff in front of all the guests. There was shouting, finger pointing, and hand waving. They were dishing out a proper bollocking to this poor member of staff. I’ve never seen anything like it at a park. I felt so sorry for the person they unleashed the abuse on. Not on at all. They were also similar towards guests in the ride station – really appalled.
After a fun ride on the Vampire, we found a family complaining to a member of management about this staff member. It transpired they had actually screamed at a little kid to ‘move over’ and terrified them. They had also witnessed the vile dressing down that had been given to the other staff member. We stopped and spoke to the manager too because it really wasn’t a nice experience. I’ve spent so long at all the Merlin-owned parks, and the staff, pretty much on the whole, are EXCEPTIONAL. Always kind, engaging, and happy to chat. I understand that we can all have bad days, but this was obscene.
Dragon’s Fury thankfully came back into operation, and we decided to use our fast track. Unfortunately for the main queue line the signs were saying the queue was currently 5 minutes. This WASN’T the case, the line was almost full, so there were a lot of people joining the queue, and seeing the length of it, and then leaving again. It took quite a while for the signs and website to update to a more realistic time. Dragon’s Fury was a lot of fun, a little bit ‘rattly,’ certainly a test to see if my back is really better (seems so!).
I had a nice day at Chessington, niggles aside, despite it being busy, there was an amazing atmosphere. It made me remember why I love rides and theme parks so much. Chessington was a massive part of my childhood, and indeed my adulthood – it was lovely being back there and seeing it look so good! I grabbed one of the retro Chessington T-Shirts while I was there, proper throwback to childhood – MORE retro merch please!