We recently had a little adventure to celebrate my husband’s 30th. It was also one of our first trips away as a family with our now 18 month old.
I booked Chessington World of Adventures park tickets and the Chessington Safari Hotel for one night. There is an array of different packages available when you book online but ours included free parking, meet and greet with the Gruffalo, a safari themed room, breakfast and 2 days in the theme park with VIP early access entry.
The hotel was easy to find, any Sat Nav should take you to the road and then there are clear signs directing you to the entrance. The car park was busy but we were able to find a space and there was a parking attendant too. Some packages offer an allocated parking space which is handy but not a necessity.
All of the staff were really friendly and even though check in is not available until 3pm, a pre-checkin is available if you arrive earlier. We were lucky when we arrived at lunchtime that our room was ready for us straight away.
Everything was explained to us on arrival in terms of tickets and schedule for the evening and morning. The hotel has a children’s splash pool that you can use during your stay for a fee. Again, some packages include this. Unfortunately the splash pool was closed when we arrived so we didn’t get a chance to use it which was a shame but there is a separate larger pool that we used instead that was great to take our toddler swimming in.
Our room was fantastic! A safari themed room with a view overlooking the ‘Savannah’ with grazing zebras and giraffes roaming quite freely. A cot was provided free of charge, we had a very comfortable bed, all expected amenities (plug by the mirror for your hair straighteners for example!) The room also had safari decorated bunk beds, so if you’re a family with 2 children and a baby, it’s perfect too. It was also very clean and there’s space to wheel and manoeuvre your pram in there too if needed.
Once settled, we spent our first afternoon in the park. As soon as you leave the hotel back doors, music starts playing through the trees and our little one became an explorer. His face was a picture. As you enter the park, the first you see are monkeys followed by penguins and meerkats, all extremely exciting and stimulating for any child.
We began our adventure and walked around the park picking and choosing what we wanted to do. Having 2 day access in the park definitely helped us to plan more and with a toddler who is currently going through an unpredictable routine change, this really suited us. The pressure seemed to be taken off and we could enjoy our time a little bit more.
This was the first time I had visited Chessington World of Adventures with a little one and the last time I visited, I was a child myself. The ‘zoo’ is now known as Wanayama Village offering a lovely walk outside in the open to see the animals. There’s also a Sea Life Centre, a petting farm and a monkey walk.
That bright yellow ‘Monorail’ is no more (I was actually looking forward to that) but they now have the ‘Zufari’ which takes you around the ‘Savannah’ in Jeeps instead. Sadly, there is a height restriction on this but I look forward to going back and trying this when my son is older.
However, we all enjoyed the famous Gruffalo River Ride which is the new replacement to the popular Bubbleworks. Nothing can really replace the Bubbleworks for me as it was such a good childhood memory, but having seen how much my son loves the Gruffalo, I hope this ride will have the same effect on him. It was lovely to see his face light up as we sailed around in our little boat.
Other rides that we enjoyed included the Jumbo Elephants, Hocus Pocus Hall, Tiny Truckers and Tomb Blaster. The Gruffalo Arena also offers entertainment and a popular meet and greet with the Gruffalo (be prepared to queue). There are also various animal talks, feeding times and shows you can watch as a family. All of this is detailed further in this useful parent and toddler guide the park provides:-
Walking back to the hotel through Wanayama Village was a great end to the day and as it was my husband’s birthday, I had booked a table at the hotel’s Zafari Bar & Grill Restaurant with a window seat overlooking the ‘Savannah’. The price of the meal was what you would expect for a theme park hotel so it wasn’t cheap, but I have to say it was one of the tastiest meals I’ve ever eaten and our son was transfixed with pointing and looking at the animals as we ate – the perfect entertainment to occupy any toddler!
Our breakfast the following morning was a buffet and it included anything and everything you could want to feed a fussy toddler! The restaurant was in the neighbouring Aztec hotel which was a very short walk away. This restaurant was also themed and displayed videos of different species of wildlife; again providing that one bit of occupancy for our son so we could eat too!
We skipped the queues and went on the Gruffalo River Ride for the second time with our early morning access pass and our day came to an end at around 2pm where we escaped the rush hour traffic and home in time for dinner.
Overall, I have to say, our mini break to Chessington World of Adventures was so much better than expected. I enjoyed it, my husband loved it and my little boy had a wonderful, magical learning experience. It wasn’t cheap as chips but I think for everything we managed to squeeze in, it was great value for money.*
So if you fancy somewhere different to go with a toddler this summer or if you have a toddler and bigger kids to entertain too – I would definitely recommend a visit!
…And we can’t wait for all of our photos to be printed to add to our very own Photobox!
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Until next time!
*Prices may vary depending on the date and length of stay.