Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Our stay at Chessington World of Adventures

We recently spent a great weekend at Chessington World of Adventures. My partner, 5 year old, 1 year old and I enjoyed 2 days at the resort including an over night stay at the onsite Azteca hotel. Spending 2 days there allowed us to take a relaxed approach and meant we could experience far more than we would have managed in a day. As a bonus staying at an onsite hotel meant we had extra perks including limited late access and early entry and the chance to go swimming.

Me and my two daughters posing next to a large Gruffalo figure

Planning Our Visit


We booked our stay in January at a discounted rate before the resort opened for the year. As the stay got nearer we received a series of countdown emails letting us know what we could book in advance and getting us more excited. I booked swimming for 4.30pm on our first day and dinner at 6.30pm. I thought this would give us a good amount of time to enjoy Chessington, explore our room (check in is from 3pm), go swimming, visit the Reserve and Amazu before an early dinner at 6.30pm. You can book the pool and meals when you arrive, but by booking early it meant we could choose the times which worked best for us. I also ordered a zebra walking balloon and large pick and mix bucket to be in our room as a surprise. The balloon was very popular, but I probably shouldn’t have got the sweets. There are places you can buy pick and mix around the resort and even in the hotel reception for the same price. For much of Saturday I had to talk everyone out of buying sweets knowing we had a plenty waiting for us in our room. They would have had more fun choosing the sweets themselves.

Our bedroom in the Chessington World of Adventures Azteca Hotel was a Temple Summit Room. The walls and carpet had pictures of temples, monkeys, birds and butterflies. The picture shows the double bed and is looking towards the window
Our Hotel Room

Our First Day In The Park


We wanted to arrive at the park when it opened on our first day, but despite packing most of our things the night before we left home later than planned. We followed the signs on arrival to the hotel car park and after a quick chat to a man at the gate we were in and parked. The man advised we could go straight to the park gate with our pre printed tickets, but I discovered later we could have checked into the hotel saving time in the afternoon when we picked up our key cards.

We left our overnight bags in the car and travelled light with only a changing bag packed full of snacks, drinks, jumpers, change of clothes and other essentials. It was really cold when we arrived, but quickly warmed up so we ended up shedding layers. There are lockers available in the park if you want to carry less around, but I didn’t want to risk having a suddenly cold and irritable child. 

Having downloaded the Chessington app we had a look at the live queue times and decided where to head first. When you stay at the hotel you get exclusive access into Amazu* and Wanyama Village after 5.30pm until dusk and early access (from 9am) to a small number of attractions including the Gruffulo Ride, Vampire and the Sea Life Centre. This meant we ignored all of these on Saturday and headed for some of the other rides which were suitable for both children (many rides have height restrictions). In 4 hours we went on 6 rides as well as queuing for Toadie’s Crazy Cars which shut when we got to the front of the queue due to "guest action". This led to tears from M who was tired and hungry so we went to eat lunch at the nearby Fried Chicken Company. 

We went on The Adventure Tree carousel and Tiny Truckers together as they don’t have height restrictions and M (age 5) went on: Sea storm, Tree Top Hoppers, Jungle Bus and Tuk Tuk Turmoil (bumper cars) with one of us.  We also managed to find time for ice-cream from Nitrogenie (you can watch them freeze your ice cream using liquid nitrogen) and freshly made doughnuts. As Little and I are dairy free we took a wander around the children’s zoo while G and M ate their ice cream. 

Me, with my baby on my lap sitting next to my 5 year old daughter in a little boat with my partner, G, in the back of the boat.

Our Room At The Azteca Hotel


Around 3.30pm we headed to the hotel to check in. Having prebooked dinner and swimming it didn’t take long. I had asked a few days before about breakfast slots and I was told they weren’t booking them so I was briefly annoyed at check in to be told that all the bookable slots had gone. This worked out well for us though as we went to breakfast when we were ready to and didn’t have to queue. 

A floor to ceiling window looking out in to a large green space. A 5 year old and toddler and are staring out of the window
Looking out onto Wanyama Reserve from the Safari Hotel

We were booked into a Temple Summit Room on the 3rd floor of the Azteca hotel. We had been tempted by the Gruffalo rooms, but we couldn’t justify the extra cost. Reception is on the ground floor of the Safari hotel so there was a bit of a walk to our room after checking in. To get from Reception we had to go up 2 floors in a lift, walk down a long corridor, over a walk way to the other hotel, then up another floor in the lift. We later found you could also walk to the other hotel on the ground floor and take the lift up which would have been much easier, but then we would have missed out on the amazing view you get from the 2nd floor in the Safari hotel. There are large floor to ceiling windows looking out over the Wanyama Reserve where you can spot the animals including Giraffes, Zebras and Oryx.

Looking into the bathroom from the doorway showing mural wall paper over the toilet,  a white toilet, the sink with a large mirror to the left and the edge of the bath and shower on the right
A monkey in our bathroom

Our family room had the children’s area nearest the door with a bunk bed (and a trundle bed underneath if needed), the bathroom in the middle and the adult area at the other end of the room near the window. We had a double bed, chair and desk. I was surprised not to see a cot in the room as I was sure I would have requested one if given the option (and it had us recorded as having an infant). I decided not to bother calling for one to be brought to us as Little rarely sleeps on her own anyway, but it was a bit of a squeeze in the double bed for 3 of us as we have a king size one at home.

The walk along zebra balloon was spotted straight away and was a big hit with all my family. The pick and mix they were less interested in for some reason, possibly because I had been refusing them sweets all day. 

The view from our hotel room showed the edge of the hotel area and Amazu (a raised walkway) with animals under neath it
The view from our hotel room

Our room looked out over Amazu and we could see the monkeys running around and some parrots. Views on the other side of the hotel are over the Wanyama Reserve and Village. We couldn’t work out how to request one of these rooms when we were booking online, but I don’t feel we missed out too much. 

A television and safe are on the left, a bunk bed on the right and mural carpet and wallpaper showing crumbling aztec temple, vines and a monkey
The kids room with bunk beds (and 3rd bed underneath), TV and safe

We were alerted to there being a safe in the kid’s bedroom by a beeping sound and for the rest of the stay we struggled to keep Little away from pressing the buttons. After enough buttons have been pressed the safe keeps beeping for a while so this got pretty annoying. It seemed like an odd place for a safe, but having stayed at the Legoland Hotel previously we started looking around to see if their was a treasure hunt, and there was. You needed to count various items around the rooms which were hidden in the mural wallpaper and carpet to get the code to the safe. When we had finally cracked it, the safe was opened to reveal two small soft toys inside.

Swimming at Savannah Splash


It was getting close to our time slot in the pool so we put on our swimsuits, redressed, and I realised I had totally forgotten a swimming nappy for Little. Fortunately there is a shop at the swimming pool which sells essentials you might have forgotten and you can hire towels too. As the pool was quiet we got to go in slightly early. There are 2 unisex changing rooms with individual and family size cubicles. Lockers cost £1 (currently the old style one’s, but I imagine they will change this soon) and they are quite small. It was such a squash getting all our stuff in that our bag ripped when we pulled it out again, we probably needed two lockers for all our bits.

My daughters in their swimming costumes ready to go swimming

We ignored the steam room, sauna and (closed) jacuzzi and headed for the proper pool so M could show off her recently acquired swimming skills. After she, quickly, got bored we moved next door to the children’s splash pool. The children’s pool was a lot of fun. There are water guns you can aim at people, sprinklers, fountains and a small slide. The deepest water is about 0.5 metres and Little could easily stand up in it, in other areas she could sit comfortably. There are a few tables and chairs next to the splash pool, but you are asked to be in the pool with your children and why should they get all the fun?

Image of the splash pool at Chessington hotel with fountains, a hippo, a giraffe and various sprinklers.
Savannah Splash (image from CWOA)

The window from the pool looks out onto the Reserve and we were able to spot a few animals while our little monkeys splashed about. The children's area is hotter that the main pool so we were all warm enough sitting in the shallow water (although I felt a little exposed). The time slots for the pool are meant to give you 50 minutes in the pool and 10 minutes to change. I expect when it is busy they regulate this, but no one seemed concerned while we were in the pool and we ended up staying a little longer.

A view out from the hotel showing a small lake and some grassland with a few patches of trees. The sun is low in the sky
Looking out at the Reserve at Dusk

After getting dressed, G took our wet stuff back to the room while M and I dried our hair on some weak, but free hair dryers and then waited in the bar area. The Zafari Bar and Grill has a door which goes out to the Reserve. We only had half an hour before we were due at dinner so we quickly walked around the edge of the Reserve and Village looking at the animals before heading to Amazu so M could run around.  

A highup walkway surrounded by netting with a girl walking across a tightrope. An animal enclosure is in the background
Amazu

Amazu is a great way for children to run around above your head while you look at the animals down below. There was plenty for us to look at for 20 minutes before heading to the Temple restaurant for our buffet, but then again we can happily watch animals for a long time and I'm used to sitting in playgrounds doing nothing. 

A toddler pointing through glass at a small monkey
Monkey

Enjoying the Evening At The Resort Hotel 


There are 2 restaurants at the hotel, one you get table service, the other a buffet. The Zafari Bar and Grill looked really nice and relaxed and the menu delicious, but I thought it would be easier for us to eat at the buffet in the Temple Restaurant. The Temple Restaurant is quite dark inside and aztec themed. I prefer well lit restaurants as I like to see my food while eating (no Dans Le Noir for me), but it entertained the children, as did the video screens with animated animals and the leaf cutter ants who were busy in a glass enclosure.

A stone looking water feature surrounded by stone monkeys which wee into the water. In the background are tables and chairs and people eating dinner
Temple Restaurant

After dinner we had a wander around looking for the entertainment. I couldn’t find it and the girls were tired so we decided to head back to our room. From late afternoon until about 9pm there are activities in the Hotel including a chance to meet the Gruffalo and a disco*, but it’s in a room out of the way. This is good if you want to avoid it, but means it is easy to miss. Back in the room we had a bit of a play and then an early night. It was almost as if I knew that we would be woken up at 5.40am by my 5 year old.

Ready To Go Day 2


Breakfast is available from 6.30am which is great when you are woken up early. We got washed, dressed and loaded the car up before heading to the Temple Restaurant for 7.30am. Breakfast is a buffet with a wide range of hot and cold foods. It was easy to find food we liked and we ended up going up in a relay to get more food until we were stuffed full. 

My 5 year old and 1 year old looking out the hotel room window ready to go on an adventure
Ready to head out on day 2

After breakfast we checked out of the Hotel and loaded up our pushchair. Before leaving the hotel we grabbed a parent swap pass from guest services which we should really have picked up the day before. This handy card let us queue up once for certain rides, at the front we got the card validated and we could then swap over so the other adult could go on the ride using the fast track entrance. This meant both adults go to experience rides and M got to go on twice if she wanted!

A river with round boats which are being filled up with people in the queue by staff wearing orange jumpsuits.
The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure

Once ready we joined a group of people waiting in Amazu for the early entrance to the park. I heard a few people grumbling that most of the park isn’t open until 10am, but for us it was a great opportunity to go on the Gruffalo River Adventure Ride with a short wait (less than 10 minutes compared to an hour plus later in the day). I even let G run off to go on Vampire by himself. While we were waiting for him and watching the ride M decided she would like to try it out. I would never have risked the normal long wait for the ride, but thought it wasn’t a problem if we only waited 5 minutes and she changed her mind.

It turned out that M LOVED Vampire and she developed a taste for fast rides. We quickly looked up which other faster rides she was tall enough for. Unfortunately she is just too short for many of them, but as soon as the rest of the park was opened we went on the Scorpion Express, as well as Black Buccaneer (the Pirate Ship) later in the day. She even decided she was prepared to queue for 50 minutes at the end of the day to go on Vampire one last time. We were impressed that she queued without grumbling for such a long time despite clearly exhausted.


Exploring The Rest Of The Park


We planned our time carefully again; looking at the live queue times and trying to balance out rides Little could go on with slightly faster rides. On day 2 we went on lots of rides: The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure, Vampire, Scorpion Express, Flying Jumbos, Tomb Blaster, Peeking Heights, Sea Storm (again), Griffin's Galleon, Sea Dragon, Zufari, Jungle Bus (again), Black Buccaneer, Canopy Capers and Dragons Playhouse (soft play). Some of these we went on more than once. 

We investigated the Zoo elements of the park more on our second day too. We all loved the Sea Life Centre and it was great to see Little staring in fascination at the fish and saying hello to them. She also enjoyed going up and down the stairs in one of the ray room (she is easy to entertain). We tried to watch the Sea Lion Show, but couldn’t see much due to the number of people standing around the edge of the pool. The Trail of the Kings animal area was brilliant and we could have watched the Gorilla’s and the family of Lions (including 3 cubs) for ages.

A life size black gorilla statue is being touched on the lips by my 1 year old who is being kissed on her lips by my 5 year old daughter

On the second day we all just nibbled at food rather than having a proper meal, but M and I both had a slushy drink (M’s second of the weekend). There was a concession near Ramases Revenge which allowed you serve yourself and I made a delicious cocktail of Strawberry, Raspberry and Vimto.

My toddler looking in to a tank and touching the glass. The tank contains rocks and a couple of fish are visible including a 'Dory' fish

For her last ride M decided she wanted to go on Vampire again despite the 50 minute wait so G and M headed there at 4.30 (queues close at 5pm). I walked around with Little and visited the Sea Life Centre again. We still had a wait for them afterwards, but happily sat on some grass waiting to be reunited. Once together again we went through the turnstiles and after a quick trip to the toilets it was back to the car. We weren’t surprised when both girls fell asleep on the way home. We had such a great weekend with good weather and lots of activities for all of us to enjoy. I was surprised at how well Chessington entertained all of us and I look forward to going back when both girls are slightly taller so they can experience new rides.

From a look out point in the reserve you can see across the grass the hotels. A few animals are grazing and the two hotels are long 4 storey buildings joined by a walkway.
Looking from the Reserve to the Hotels (Safari Hotel on the left, Azteca on the right)

For more  information about practical advice for visiting Chessington with little ones and rides they can go on see my post on Visiting Chessington With Young Children

*Late access to Amazu, the Reserve and evening entertainment are only available Friday/ Saturday night and school holidays and may be subject to other restrictions eg in bad weather. Look at the website or give them a call for more details. All information above is as accurate as possible, but I can make mistakes and things change.
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7 comments

  1. This looks like so much fun!

    Jodie x

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  2. These pics are great! You and yours look like you had such a wonderful time!

    Thena
    www.hodgepodgehippie.com

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  3. Oh wow! I didn't even know you could stay at Chessington. Your little one is so adorable btw!

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  4. Aw, it sounds like you all had a lovely time! The decor in your room is so fun! :) xxx

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  5. Chessington looks so much fun! I love the sound of the hotel. We've stayed at Alton Towers and the hotel looks and sounds very similar. Chessington is quite a long way from us so we've never been, I would like to one day though.

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  6. I haven't been here since I was a child, but it still looks just as fun! I had no idea you could stay over night either. How fun :)

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  7. There's so much to do! It looks fab and the rooms look lovely.

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