Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Guide To Visiting Chessington With Young Children

We recently went to Chessington World of Adventures Resort as a family. Going to a theme park with a toddler and a 5 year old can be challenging, but we found something for everyone. If you are thinking of going to Chessington with young children this post will help you get the most out of your visit. You can also read more about our amazing visit here.

A green leafy background with title text on and the Chessington Logo which is yellow and red with the plant earth behind


Planning Your Visit


Most of the rides at Chessington are restricted by height with a range of height restrictions from 0.9m to 1.4m. The rides suitable for any age need an adult to accompany children under 1.1 metres. If you visit with a child shorter than 0.9m (roughly under 2 years old) there are only a small number of rides they can go on. We didn’t find this a big problem though as there is so much to see. There are rulers at the front of the queues, but it's worth measuring your children first so you have a better idea of what they can go on. Full details of the rides suitable for under 5s can be found further down this post. 

The Weather: While there are a number of attractions under a roof, Chessington wouldn’t be as much fun on a cold, wet day. If you go on a rainy day with prebooked tickets you might be able to come back for free on another day (it has to rain for more than an hour non-stop and other T&C's apply). 

Tickets: Children under 3 are free, but for adults and older children you can save a lot of money by booking 5 or more days in advance. You have to pay to park your car so save on this by paying in advance too. Keep an eye out for promotions including buy one get one free tickets if you would rather pay on the gate. Cadbury, Kelloggs and Organix all have ticket deals available for Chessington this year.

If you are going off peak you can get a ticket for an adult and child (aged 5 and under) for only £21. This is a great value way to experience Chessington, but you need to book 2 or more days in advance. An annual pass for a parent and preschooler is only £60 and that gives you 20% off food and shop purchases too. Considering an on the day ticket for adults costs £49 this is an amazing price. Off peak dates exclude school holidays and most weekends.

Opening Times: The park is open from 10 am and queues close at 5pm. It is worth arriving as early as possible when it is quieter and to give you the best chance to do as much as possible.

Chessington isn't open all year round, and there are a few off peak days it is closed too so check the website before visiting.

On The Day


When you enter the park one of the first places to head to is Guest Services where you can pick up a parent swap card and a wristband for your children. Write your mobile number on the wristband to help you get reunited faster if your child gets lost.

Parent swap: If you get this card validated at the front of a ride queue it means you only have to queue once for some of the rides, but both parents can go on at different times. The first parent and child queue as normal, but with the validated card the second parent can go through the fast track gate (with or without a child) so both adults can experience the ride. It’s not available on everything, but it meant we both got to experience rides (including Scorpion Express, Sea Storm and ZUFARI) which we wouldn’t have queued up twice for.

Pushchairs have to be left outside most rides. If you have a pre walking child I recommend having a baby carrier so you don’t have to hold them for long periods. You could also hire a buggy (single or double) from The Adventure Point Gift Shop. These are great for toddlers and preschoolers who might get tired with all the walking. There are limited numbers available so get there early if you want one on a busy day.

Queue Times: Even a 5 minute queue can feel like a long time to a small child. We downloaded the Chessington App which gives live queue times and helped us to use our time carefully. There were a few times we could see the queue length was much shorter than it advised or the queue moved slower than expected, but generally it was a really useful guide. You can get the same information from the Chessington website and from electronic boards onsite. I like that you can see how long the queues are even when at home!

A close up of a multi flavour slushed ice drink with a pink straw.

Food and Drink: Like any theme park there is a huge range of food available, the challenge is to persuade children they don’t just want to eat ice-cream and sweets. There are microwaves available for use in a few locations and most of the restaurants do children’s portions. The cost of food adds up so I would recommend taking some snacks. 

You can buy a refillable drink cup to use during your visit which might work out good value if you normally buy lots of fizzy drinks. The marketing of the products on site generally encourages you to buy multiples e.g. one drink might be expensive, but a multi-buy will make 2 seem great value. We ended up with an excess of fresh doughnuts thanks to this.

Badges: You get a free pop badge with kid's meals so make sure you ask for one if they aren’t included. There are lots of different ones and you can even swap them with staff members if you spot one you like the look of.

Baby Changing and Toilets: There are baby changing facilities in all of the toilet blocks, but a few are inside the ladies toilets. There are 7 baby changing facilities accessible to men around the park so it shouldn’t be too far to go to find one. We had a few times where my daughter decided she urgently needed a wee and fortunately we never seemed to be more than 5 minutes away from a toilet. The staff were great in pointing us in the right direction saving us those precious seconds map reading.

Rides and Activities Without Height Restrictions


A view of a carousel with giraffes and a large rodent to sit on

The Adventure Tree Carousel: A new ride for 2017 this carousel has a range of animals you can sit on underneath the 13 metre high tree. For children too small to sit on the animals you can sit with them in a barrel (which spins) or rocking pitcher plant.

two children running across a high up walk way surrounded by netting

Canopy Capers: Essentially a high up walk way where you walk on netting. This play area doesn’t have a minimum height restriction so adults can go up with small ones, but it’s unlikely to offer much to interest anyone under 18 months.

A view of the toddler soft play area including large cubes with letters on, a slide and a raised platform

Dragon’s Playhouse: A fun soft play with a large area (including 2 slides and a bouncy castle) for bigger children and a nice small toddler area. It’s a bit worn, but my toddler loved it. They limit numbers to 30 children at a time so if people are waiting you only get a short slot to play (ours lasted 10 minutes). Like all soft plays you need to remove your shoes and be wearing socks. There is a maximum height restriction of 1.4 metres.

View of the flying jumbo ride from one of the elephants showing the rear of the elephants in front

Flying Jumbos: Up to 2 people can fit in each elephant and ride the elephants round in a circle. By pressing a button in your elephant you can make it “fly” up and down. This was entertaining enough for my 5 year old who got an elephant to herself and calm enough that my tired 1 year old very nearly fell asleep.

The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure: This new ride for 2017 replaces the Bubbleworks and is a journey through the Deep Dark Wood in a circular boat. The music, lights, models and animation should appeal to all ages. You can watch my video of our ride below. As a new ride it currently has long queue times, but the ride lasts 6 minutes so it is worth it for fans of The Gruffalo.


If you have a big Gruffalo fan then it’s worth heading to the Gruffalo arena where you can meet the Gruffalo himself. There is a statue you can pose with as well as a “real” one available for meet and greets at advertised times throughout the day. You can watch The Gruffalo film at advertised times as well in the Gruffalo Arena, and we found The Gruffalo’s Child playing in a mini cinema inside the Sandwich Company in the Land of The Dragons.

Hocus Pocus Hall: We didn’t go in this 4D adventure as I suspect the haunted house would give my 5 year old nightmares. The darkness, light and noise could be entertaining for babies and for children who don’t get scared watching Disney films and demand they are turned off (my eldest has requested this numerous times). My partner was keen to go in, but adults must be accompanied by a child.

View of the big wheel taken centrally from below

Peeking Heights: The big wheel offers a quiet view of Chessington above the trees. The ride takes a single slow rotation and is nice and calming if you aren’t afraid of heights or stuck in a pod with an excitable toddler.

Sea Dragons: This is a gentle boat ride which goes round in a circle and is a good introductory ride for little ones as there is nothing to fear. There is unlikely to be much of a queue and it is near the soft play in Land of The Dragons.

Temple of Mayhem: Unfortunately we never made it into this inside 2 storey activity where you can blast each other with foam balls. It sounds like lots of fun, but I haven’t seen anything to persuade me it is suitable for really young children. Once they are old enough to be happy to have balls shot at them then this will be worth a visit. Adults are only allowed in if accompanied by children and maximum height for children of 1.4m applies to maintain a friendly atmosphere.

View of the side front window of a red truck with a girl smiling out the window

Tiny Truckers: This ride had the longest queue we waited in and we were underwhelmed by it after such a long wait. Each truck has a space for 2 children at the front and 2 small bottomed adults at the back (we don’t have small bottoms and were a little squished). You can’t see the children in the front so they need to be old enough to ride without you being with them. The door is secured while moving, but I did see one boy nearly climb out the window. Our 5 year old went in the front and our 1 year old sat on our laps in the back. The trucks follow a track around and you can pretend to drive them. The steering wheels and buttons don’t actually do anything, but it’s enough to keep many little ones entertained.

Toadie’s Crazy Cars: The queue to this ride took a surprisingly long time given the length and when we were right at the front it closed due to a “guest incident”. We heard rumours that someone was hit by a car going at about 2 miles per hour, but were unable to confirm this. The queue time didn’t seem to get shorter at any point over the weekend so we didn’t try to go on it again. It looks similar to Tiny Truckers, but this time you are all in the same car (2 in the back, 2 in the front) and only the people at the front have a steering wheel. It looks good for toddlers.

View of the Front of the Tomb Blaster ride designed to look like the entrance to a tomb

Tomb Blaster: While this doesn’t have a minimum height restriction, as a ride where you are sit in a train and shoot laser guns at targets it probably won’t appeal to most babies and toddlers. I gave it a miss with the toddler while my partner and 5 year old went on. My daughter found it more challenging than some other similar rides (e.g. the one at Legoland).  You are in a train rather than a car so there are more people near you and it is harder to hit the targets with so many competing lasers.

Other Rides For Under 5’s (children less than 1.2 metres tall)


Suitable for 0.9 metres and above

View of the small pirate ship from the side

Griffins Galleon: This is a small pirate ship which rotates and doesn’t go very high. It is next door to a fountain which shoots you with water and creates puddles so be careful when you are in the area.

Side view of a mini bus with open sides and the words "Jungle bus tours" on it

Jungle Bus: Climb aboard the small bus while it rotates up and around in a circle.

A dodgem car with a girl in a green dress sitting in it

Tuk Tuk Turmoil: We had fun on these bumper cars. The steering wheel is slightly to one side so my eldest sat in front of it and I reached my leg across to control the accelerator. Drivers are warned against head on collisions, but we got caught in a sandwich when someone spun round in front of us and another car hit us from behind. It was great, but you do get a few jolts.

View of a brown roller coaster in the platform

Scorpion Express: This is a great first rollercoaster. It goes fast enough to provide a thrill, but has a low enough height restriction that most toddlers will be able to go on it. You sit on the train and go round the track at speed, watch out for the scorpion incase it sprays you with it’s tail.

Looking through the netting a a couple of boats on the sea storm ride

Sea Storm: We went on this boat ride more than any other ride. The boats go round in a circle as well as going up and down so it feels like you are on a choppy sea. The best bit (according to my daughter) is when the boats suddenly spin round and you are facing the other direction.

Treetop Hoppers: You sit in a row of seats which are lifted up before dropping slightly, then lifted up again. It’s like being bounced up and down in slow motion. Only the seats on the end of each row are suitable for adults, and even then at a size 14 it was a little snug for me.

Suitable for 1 metre and above

Black Buccaneer: A proper pirate ship which swings high. This is definitely a thrill ride and only for children who are comfortable with heights and speed.

ZUFARI: Ride into Africa takes you on an actual truck and drives you around part of the Wanyama Reserve. To turn it into a ‘ride’ you are on a mission and something goes wrong. I won’t give it away, but if you sit on the edge of the row you might get wet. We loved seeing the animals close up, but it's pretty bumpy so you might not want to take a camera.

Suitable for 1.1 metres and above (some 4 year olds might be tall enough)

Vampire: This rollercoaster has the lowest height restriction of the “Brave Adventurer” rides. The track is above your head and your feet dangle as you zoom around. There are likely to be long waits at all times, but if your child is tall enough this ride will be the fastest one you get to experience when visiting Chessington with young children.

Seeing the Animals, Bird and Fish


Chessington has lots of animals around the resort and you could probably spend half a day slowly wandering around these areas. We found the animal areas were often quieter and made a nice change to queues and short rides.

A fish tank with fish visible and a young child reaching up and pointing at them

The SEA LIFE Centre: Smaller than the stand alone Sea Life Centres throughout the country this aquarium is great for little ones. Plenty of the tanks are low down or go down to the floor allowing toddlers to easily see the huge range of fish. Both my children have loved fish tanks as babies and I actually went in here twice with my youngest she loved in that much. They ask you to leave your pushchairs outside (there just wouldn’t be room for them when it’s busy) but if you have a baby carrier or they can toddle it is worth a visit.

Penguins: At Penguin Bay you can watch the penguins throughout the day or stop by at feeding time in the afternoon to see them more active (and to listen to a talk to learn more about penguins). 

Sea Lions: we stopped by Sea Lion Bay 5 minutes before one of the show times and the number of people standing around the enclosure barrier stopped us being able to see the pool from the seating area. We stayed for the short show, but couldn’t see much so it’s probably better to visit at another time when all the sea lions are out in the pool.

A family of gorillas in their enclosure with lots of straw on the floor and wooden frames to climb

Trail of The Kings: There are a range of animals to see in this area, but we found the lions, tigers and gorillas the most exciting. We got a great view of the whole lion family including the 3 cubs, but the only visible tiger took one look at us before going inside and away from view. 

Lorikeet Lagoon: You can feed rainbow lorikeets from your hand with a pot of nectar. We didn’t get a chance to do this, but having done it at Longleat I think it's a great way to see the birds close up.

Photograph from below of a young girl on a tightrope surrounded by nets, in the background an animal enclosure is visible

Amazu: There are monkeys, birds and a few other animals such as the capybara, which look like a giant gerbil, in this area. You can see this all from the treetop adventure climbing frame, but as adults (and the toddler) we were just as interested to see them from the ground. You can even walk through one of the monkey enclosures.

Children’s Zoo: There are pygmy goats, sheep, pigs, ferrets, guinea pigs, tamarinds and marmosets in the children’s zoo. When we went in the afternoon they seemed to all be having a nap and were hard to see so they weren’t of much interest to our one year old. Some older toddlers seemed to enjoy it more and it would be more interesting when the animals are awake.

Otters: A family of otters live next to one of the exits. This is where we came into the park so it proved a helpful distraction for the children while we looked at the map and worked out where to go first.

Looking through a hole in the hideout into a field. The rear of rhino is visible and some antelope like creatures

Zufari: The Zufari ride disappointingly has a minimum height restriction of 1 metre, but it’s a great way to get really close to the giraffes and rhino. For anyone too young to go on the truck it’s still worth a visit to the area as you can see the flamingoes near the queue entrance and from a lookout spot (with holes at both adult and child height) you can see into one of the fields where the rhino live. 

Wanyama Village and Reserve: Just a short walk from Zufari and Amazu you can see more animals which you would expect on safari in both small enclosures and a large open space. Animals include meerkats, zebra, ostrich and oryx.

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NB: Where ages are referred to in the post they are given as rough guides only. Ride entry is strictly by height and as a parent you’ll be the best judge of what is appropriate for your children out of the rides they are tall enough for. Always check the website before visiting for the latest information.
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8 comments

  1. I'd love to be able to take Erin one day but it's so far away from us.

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    Replies
    1. That's a shame, maybe take a tour down south?

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  2. We love visiting Chessington, we always manage to spot something new on each visit

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    Replies
    1. We'll definitely be going back I think we have more to experience

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  3. We are big fans of Chessington and loved the new Gruffalo river ride - never been in Hocus Pocus Hall though

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  4. Fab post. We haven't been for a while. I didn't realise they did a parent swap. That's worth knowing x

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    Replies
    1. We only found out by accident, it's definitely worth picking one up

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