This morning, a couple of excited mice took a stroll through the deep dark wood… We were at Chessington World of Adventures to experience the world’s first Gruffalo ride a few hours before it even opened to the public. Let me tell you something before I even get into details: “Wow, just wow!”
A Girly Weekend
Our adventure started yesterday afternoon. Straight after the school run, Jumpy and I left home, just the two of us, for a drive around the M25 and a nice chat about the fun we would be having this weekend. We arrived at Chessington just before 5.30 p.m. and we were given goody bags as I met with my friend Cé and her two girls.
The girls were over the moon with their snacks and Gruffalo-themed presents. As for me, I was pleasantly surprised to see a couple of Organix treats in there. In theme parks, all you seem to be able to get your hands on is junk food, which is why we always bring our own packed lunches. I wondered why there were Organix treats in the bags. When I investigated, I found out about a new meal deal at Chessington containing a sandwich, a bottled drink and two Organix products. Now that is really lovely: convenient and healthy! I hope other theme parks follow Chessington’s lead in the near future.
A Great Room
We took our bags to our room in Azteca Hotel before dinner and were immediately impressed by how spacious it was.
The theme of our room matched the exotic features dotted all around the hotel, and the girls loved the fact their bunk beds (with an extra pull-out bed underneath) were facing their very own TV. “Oh wow, there’s 2 TVs in the room! We can watch TV in bed!”
A great little touch in my opinion was the note left on the desk, giving little adventurers clues that would help them unlock the temple treasure chest (the safe). The girls and I enjoyed this quick activity, although we did not manage to open the safe in the end. We were still given our treasure at reception, so it all ended well!
On went the mouse ears and as all guests were walking together towards the Smokehouse BBQ & Bar for dinner, all you could see was a trail of flashing ears lighting up a dark evening.
Dinner & Entertainment at Smokehouse BBQ & Bar
As we got there, we were given the opportunity to stroke large owls, but the girls were too wary of the birds to go near them. Cé and I were handed a glass of bubbly each and the girls had a choice between ‘Gruffalo Crumble’ or ‘Scrambled Snake’ and they both went for the latter, which was lime-flavoured and topped with a snake gummy sweet.
We were seated near my friend Louise and her family, and we listened to a great live act as we were having dinner. A magician was also going from table to table, mesmerising the children.
When we went to get our food, I was pleasantly surprised to be handed the allergy information really quickly and to find food that was naturally allergy-friendly for Jumpy. She had chips with pulled pork, followed by a large cup of fresh fruit.
The girls were then treated to a bit of face painting, and they were both turned into fierce foxes as I was chatting to lovely Donna.
We were the last people to leave the restaurant and as we went back to our room, we talked and talked and talked until we could talk no more.
We all slept really well and got up nice and early. After a nice, hot shower (amazing water pressure and I am pretty sure the water is softened there), we were ready for what our hosts at Chessington World of Adventure had in store for us.
A Love Story
Breakfast was perfect, and we headed towards the park straight afterwards, at 8.45 a.m., before Chessington opened to the public for the day. Just outside the shiny new Gruffalo River Ride Adventure, there were owls again, and the girls were a bit more daring this morning and they gave them a pat.
I feel in love with one of the birds, Peace, a two-year-old owl with a piercing stare. She was so soft and pretty! Her keeper let me have her on my shoulder, but she would have none of it and gave me a head massage instead. I wish could have taken her home! Isn’t she gorgeous?
All through the day, there would be ‘meet and greets’ with The Gruffalo and he was there as we were about to head towards the ride. The girls were adamant they would not go near the scary monster so Cé and her youngest went to scare him off. I sometimes wonder who has the most fun when we get invited to places: the children or the mummies?
The New Gruffalo Ride at Chessington
We were bursting with excitement as we entered the Gruffalo River Ride Adventure.
There was something really magical about being amongst the first to try this new attraction. Our photo was taken on a green background (the result was pretty good!) and we sat in round boats as we begun our journey through the deep, dark woods. It was dark all through the ride, but not scarily so.
The Gruffalo ride, which took seven months to build, is a real feast for the senses. The atmospheric ride takes you through the story of The Gruffalo.
As you glide down the river, lulled by calming music, you get to experience what Mouse must have felt as she was about to encounter the Gruffalo for the very first time. All the key characters are there: Mouse, the Gruffalo, the fox, owl and snake feature in this magical ride.
As you reach each different scene from the story, all your senses get tickled: smells hit you first, whether it is the smell of grass or woody, musky scents you get in the deep, dark wood. The music is enchanting, the mini HD clips of an impressive quality, and the creatures filling the woods look just like the drawings by Axel Scheffler.
The currents in the river add a sense of adventure, without being too scary for a young audience, and the water jets will leave you dewy-like (not soaking!) and laughing. You will even get to feel Gruffalo Crumble’s cloud-like consistency as the ride concludes.
Let’s just say we made the most of the fact we were allowed on the ride as many times as we wanted. By the time we left (4 round trips if I remember well), our bottoms had gone to sleep and we were pretty damp, or in the words of a four year old: “I’ve got wet on my trousers… and now I’ve got a wet bottom!” We were all giddy and in love with the newest ride at Chessington.
It most definitely is a ride for the whole family and it is excellent for people of all ages. The 7-month-old among us was happy and looking everywhere as we were delving into the deep, dark woods. Our next stop was at the new Gruffalo Gift Shop, where Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler signed our books.
The Gruffalo Bites
All those adventures made us feel a bit peckish so we headed towards the Gruffalo Bites eatery where we could have snacks like Gruffalo Crumble, Owl, Roasted Fox, Mouse and Scrambled Snake.
We all went for Grufalo Crumble, Frozen Yoghurt topped with chocolate sauce, Oreo & chocolate pieces. Again, the allergy menu was readily available. For Jumpy, Oreo crumbs were substituted with chocolate drops. She loves it when her ‘special’ food looks like everyone else’s and that was another win. Thanks, Chessington!
We all gave a snake a stroke and enjoyed our treats.
We spent the rest of the day making the most of everything Chessington had to offer and watched the Gruffalo as we were eating our lunch.
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Disclosure: We were invited to the event described free of charge and I was not asked to write about the ride or our stay but I wanted to share our thoughts. Thanks to everyone at Chessington for making our stay magical! All opinions and photos are my own.