Chessington World of Adventures Resort review for families
In a nutshell
A zoo and theme park divided into various zones, compact enough to explore in one day and will keep the whole family entertained. However, if you want to see the zoo in detail as well as experience most rides, allow two days for your visit
What we tested
- Fun for kids
5.0A star rating of 5.0 out of 5.
- Fun for parents
4.0A star rating of 4.0 out of 5.
- Worth the money
3.5A star rating of 3.5 out of 5.
4.0A star rating of 4.0 out of 5.
- Family friendliness
4.5A star rating of 4.5 out of 5.
- Compact, variety of rides/entertainment, easily available refreshments, can be done in one day, queueing time screens
- Long queues for best rides, stalls ‘upselling’, expensive food and drink, lack of variety of rides for those under 1m
Showing item 1 of 4
Puneet visited on an overcast but warm day in August during the school holidays, with Arjun age 12, Mili age 8 and Tara age 5.
Fellow reviewer Katherine visited on a boiling-hot day in August during the school holidays, with her husband Ben and their children, Josh age 8 and Toby age 6. They stayed in the Explorer Glamping site.
What age is Chessington World of Adventures best for?
Best for: Those between the ages of 6 and 13 with a height of at least 1.3m to enjoy the rides. Also great for anyone who loves animals – giraffes, elephants, tigers were spotted and enjoyed!
Still good fun for: Those with a height of at least 1.1m. Mili is 1.25 m so she couldn’t go on all of the rides but there was plenty of variety for her. Tara was just 1.1m and felt a little annoyed at missing out on some rides her siblings enjoyed but she still managed a good few rides.
Avoid if: Your children are less than 1.1m tall and you want more rides than zoo. They won’t have much fun being turned away.
For more theme park fun, take a look at our roundup of the best UK theme parks.
How much does it cost in 2023?
Book in advance for tickets for the theme park and zoo from £36 (ages 3+), or from £53 (3-11 years) and £57 (12+) on the day. So you’re looking at £144 for a family of 4 in advance.
- Although you can buy a ticket on entry that allows you to go on as many rides as you want and as many times as you want, it is still a fairly pricey day out. I’d estimate that you need to allow at least £50 for each person. This would include the entry fee, lunch and perhaps 1 drink / ice cream each.
- Another way of saving money is by getting refillable drinks bottles near the entrance which allows you to refill as many times as you like. Definitely worth considering especially on very hot days.
- Most of the really daring rides allow you to purchase photos taken of you during the experience. I found these were quite costly – around £15. You can view at the picture desks when you are exiting the rides.
- You can also buy animal feed at various points to feed the animals – £1 for a small handful - but we didn’t get time to stop as the children wanted to experience more rides.
- A family of 4 would expect to spend between £200 and £300 on the visit, so I would recommend Chessington for special days out or as a two-day adventure over the long Easter or summer holidays.
Are there any discounts or cheap tickets available for Chessington World of Adventures?
As well as booking in advance, there are other options to save money when visiting Chessington World of Adventures.
- You can use Tesco Clubcard vouchers - turn every £0.50 in vouchers into £1.50 to spend at Chessington. Allow time to receive the tickets so plan at least one full week ahead. Also take a look at our Tesco Clubcard family days out article to see if you can use your Clubcard points.
- Check Picniq or Attractiontix for special offers
- You could buy a Merlin Pass which includes access to other big attractions such as Legoland, Sea Life London Aquarium, Warwick Castle, Thorpe Park, Alton Towers and more.
- If you’re considering staying overnight, look for deals combining accommodation and tickets on Holiday Extras
Save up to 20% on hotel stays, food and drink and get free car parking with a Gold Merlin Annual PassIf you plan to visit Chessington World of Adventures more than once a year, it’s worth considering getting a Gold Merlin Annual Pass. With up to 20% off hotel stays, food and drinks, free car parking and a load of extra perks and discounts, it’s an excellent choice for families visiting Chessington World of Adventures multiple times a year.
How long will we spend at Chessington World of Adventures?
If you pick and choose your rides and then allow a little time for the zoo, you can probably do it in one full day and feel satisfied.
However, I would probably recommend staying overnight (either in the hotel with themed rooms or on the glamping site when the weather is warm) and visiting over two days if you are travelling from a distance. The park closes at 6pm and if you go on a busy day, you can easily spend 3 hours queueing for rides and once you take lunchtime out, it doesn’t leave you with much for leisurely strolling. Also, waiting for tigers to come out of their dens can take a while so be prepared!
Katherine says: “Staying in any Chessington accommodation gives you an Early Rider pass, meaning you can access the park an hour before it opens to the general public.” Only certain rides start running early, so she suggests checking a couple of these out and then using the extra time to your advantage by getting in line for a popular ride – such as Vampire – that will likely have a huge queue later in the day.
What’s it like for families?
It’s a great day out for families in general. The zoo is brilliant for people of any age who love animals, especially little ones. There is a mini safari which is great for catching a glimpse of animals like giraffes, tigers, rhinos, elephants to name just a few. We got excellent views of the tigers – totally thrilling! Katherine’s kids loved the Trail of the Kings, which not only had animals – including gorillas, lions, foxes and binturong – but also a treasure trail in which they had to discover hidden gems. They hit up this attraction in the morning and it was practically empty as most people were queueing for rides.
There is a decent variety of rides for most children of different ages. As is the norm in all theme parks for safety reasons, there are height restrictions on most of the rides. As long as children are 0.9m they can go on a fair few including the Jungle Rangers, Tuk Tuk Turmoil bumper cars, Canopy Capers, and the Scorpion Express roller coaster.
We enjoyed The Gruffalo River Ride and Room On A Broom Magical Journey, as did Katherine’s children. “We did both attractions twice,” she says.
I did feel pressured by time and queues and not being able to find my way around quick enough. It’s not a huge resort but if you don’t know where you are going, you can end up wasting time circling around aimlessly. “It’s possible to enjoy the day without going on that many rides,” says Katherine. If the idea of spending a large part of the day queueing fills you with dread, there are plenty of other fun things to do. They enjoyed the musical shows that ran throughout the day, which included lively performances on The Mane Stage by Lioness Richie, Skunk 182 and Snoop Frogg!
Other fun ‘non-queueing’ activities that Katherine would recommend include:
- The Temple of Mayhem. A two-storey building, where kids can shoot foam balls out of cannons.
- Land of the Dragons. This has a great outdoor play area, as well as a soft play inside. In the cafe, The Gruffalo, Zog and other Julia Donaldson films are screened, so kids can watch while they eat.
- Shipwreck Coast. A new area opened in July 2022, young visitors are asked to crack the case of the ‘fishnapper’, collecting clues and getting their Evidence Card stamped along the way. “My boys love a mystery, so had a brilliant time doing this,” says Katherine.
Katherine would also recommend the glamping. “It’s not cheap but it does add another element of adventure to the whole trip. When we arrived – taking in the themed props, jungle music playing over loudspeakers and giant cobra head looming over the site – Toby declared: 'It’s way funner than I expected!' Activities for the kids were organised, including arts and crafts, different challenges, limbo, and an adventure into the theme park after hours – very exciting! A giant African snail called Geoffrey was also brought out for the children to hold if they wanted. One negative point to the glamping was the planes flying overhead (the site is under a flight path), particularly when bedtime came. Josh and Toby were so exhausted that they crashed out, but it was a different story for me. Pack your earplugs."
What’s new for 2023 at Chessington World of Adventures Resort?
The world’s only Jumanji-themed rollercoaster Mandrill Mayhem is set to open in spring 2023, along with the Mamba Strike and Ostrich Stampede rides. World of Jumanji will also feature a maze of pathways – some trickier to navigate than others – based on the iconic board game.
In addition to the new rides, there’ll be 6 new Jumanji-themed bedrooms in the Chessington Safari Hotel from 1 April.
What shouldn't be missed?
Highlights for us were:
- We all thought the Vampire ride in the Wild Woods area was excellent – it was fast and thrilling and Tara (5) was allowed on it too so that was great.
- With regards to the animals, it was a total joy to come up so close to the tigers as they walked around. The glass cage allows you to see them from a distance of a foot or two! However, it depends on when they want to come out, we got lucky as it was a matter of minutes.
- During our visit, we enjoyed the Gruffalo Summer Party experience to celebrate the Gruffalo’s 20th birthday party, which was totally enchanting for the girls.
- Besides the zoo and rides, you can also head to SeaLife featuring sea creatures, feeding sessions and talks. We didn’t get to do this because there was not enough time, so maybe we will have to go back. Katherine’s family did visit this area, however. “My boys particularly enjoyed the touch pool,” she says.
- There was also a manmade beach and bouncy castle experience for older children. My little two were upset that they couldn’t go on the bouncy castle after queueing as we missed the sign! However, we had a good time on the beach – the sand was very clean and soft. These weren’t there when Katherine visited – instead there was a ‘festival’ area (she went during the summer-long Wilderfest event) with food trucks and various performing artists, including magicians, jugglers and comedians.
Are there any scary/boring elements that young or sensitive children might not enjoy?
Tara didn’t like queueing in the ‘dark ‘ places – such as the tunnels leading to the Zufari or being inside the Room on the Broom adventure or the Gruffalo River Ride. The rides for her height were fine for her – she particularly enjoyed The Scorpion rollercoaster and the Sea Dragons ride. And some of the rides – such as Tomb Blaster – made me feel a little claustrophobic and it seemed to go on for ages. It was great fun though, as you use your guns to shoot laser beams at targets and accrue points. Unfortunately, Katherine and her family queued up for over half an hour for Tomb Blaster (it was extremely hot and stuffy) and, when they reached the front, Josh and Toby were so freaked out by the creepy figures that they decided they didn’t want to go on the ride any more. “Not a highlight of the day!” laughs Katherine.
What’s the Gruffalo River Ride Adventure like?
The Gruffalo River Ride (no minimum height but kids under 1.1m must be accompanied by an adult aged 16+) takes you on a boat winding through the imaginary forest where you can relive the story of the Gruffalo. It’s quite enchanting – especially when you go under the water fountains. Tara was a little terrified to start with as she is scared of the dark but there were many younger children who were really enjoying it. “Although my boys could be deemed ‘a bit too old’ for this ride,” says Katherine, “they found it thoroughly captivating and absolutely loved it.”
What’s the Room on the Broom A Magical Journey like?
“Ditto the Room on a Broom ride,” she adds. You get to visit the enchanted library and walk through the experience, helping Witch and Cat find lost belongings, as though you are a part of the story. Although it says may not be suitable for under 4s, it’s really for younger children in my opinion, although Tara, 5, was terrified again as it was dark! Mili, 8, thought she was too old for it but enjoyed it all the same.
Does it cater well to children of all ages?
On the whole, yes there really is plenty to do for all ages. If you plan well and perhaps split a large group into age and height ranges for some of the experiences, you can get more packed into your day.
What to bring:
- It’s a good idea to take a pushchair of course. Tara felt she was old for it at 5 but she barely got out of it as we were going from one ride to the other! It’s way too much area for a small child to cover
- Wipes are always handy, as is sun cream
- Prepare for sun with hats and shades as well as for rain with waterproofs and brollies
What are the queues like at Chessington World of Adventures?
- The average time for us was 20 minutes but I have heard that it can be much more than this on very busy days. The best thing to do is keep an eye on queue times and target those. We did find one glitch though – Tomb Blaster was showing as 30 minutes when we went to join the queue but it only took 10 minutes. All the other ones were very accurate. Katherine had a similar experience with Tuk Tuk Turmoil: “It said that the wait was 25 minutes, but we were on the ride within 15. Happy days!”
- The longest we queued was 40 minutes for Vampire. “My husband queued for over an hour for the Vampire ride,” says Katherine. “The boys and I did a few smaller rides during this time.” Unfortunately, due to queue times in excess of 40 minutes, we didn’t get to go on Dragon’s Fury which Mili and Arjun really wanted to experience. Tara would have been too short for it so she was glad!
- We targeted the rides with the shortest queues but they did fluctuate throughout the day. When we arrived, it took just 5 minutes to get on KOBRA, but the queue time shot up to 30 minutes by lunchtime. Katherine agrees it’s a good idea to target rides with the shortest queues – “Right at the end of the day, we got on the Gruffalo ride within 10 minutes.”
Tip: After one ride with a larger queue, we would then alternate with a ride with no queue or short queue.
You can upgrade your ticket to Reserve and Ride which allows you to wait the queue time for a ride virtually. The Reserve and Ride entry prices vary – starting at £25 for the Regular pass, and increasing to £90 for the Ultimate pass. Please refer to the website for more information.
Best rides for preschoolers (children aged 3-5 years):
- Longer queues: Scorpion Express, ZUFARI, Ride into Africa
- Shorter queues: Sea Storm,Tuk Tuk Turmoil
- No queues: Jungle Bus, TreeTop Hoppers
Best rides for primary school-age children (5-10):
- Longer queues: Vampire, Dragon’s Fury
- Shorter queues: KOBRA, Monkey Swinger
- No queues: Adventure Tree Carousel
What to watch out for:
I did find it a little annoying that we kept on coming across stands where you need to pay extra – the ‘pay-to-win-a-prize-although-you-never-win-anything’ places’! We tried the place where you have to hang on to a bar for 2 mins which sounds easy but the bar was so slippery and moving around that they managed a few seconds each!
Then there was the ‘aim a football at the target’ – a prize available for a score of 82 or so which was virtually impossible.
Finally there was the place where you have to climb a ladder and ring the bell to win a prize but the ladder just spun around and knocked you off! I banned the kids from making me spend more after these.
The Gruffalo River Ride forces you past a gift shop but I whizzed past before the kids saw something that caught their eye! Of course it’s great if you want a souvenir but if you don’t and your kids do (I'm sure all parents know that feeling) it can be awkward and unnecessary.
I managed quite well on my own with three children of different heights and ages, although I would recommend one additional adult going so that if you need to, you can split the rides to accommodate the different heights of the children.
Is there a map or app you can choose to find your way around?
Yes, sadly I only discovered the Chessington App halfway through the day! Apparently, it guides you around the park so you don’t waste time getting lost (we tried following the map and ended up going the wrong way on many occasions!).
Its most valuable feature is that it gives you up-to-date queue times. There is also a large screen at Adventure Point which we referred to a few times to work out which ride to dart for according to queue times listed. Printed maps are available to everyone on entry and if you don’t have the app, the map is a must!
Is it suitable to visit in all weather conditions?
We got lucky with the weather – we went the day after the hottest-ever day in the UK and it was warm but overcast – perfect! Katherine visited on a very hot day so was relieved that there were many shady areas throughout the park to cool off when she and her family started wilting. On a very wet day, it really wouldn’t be much fun as a lot of it is outdoors. So if there is a risk or rain, pack brollies and waterproofs.
If you are worried about the weather, there is a Rainy Day Guarantee which means that if it rains continually for an hour or more during your visit, you will get a free day ticket for a return visit later in the year.
What are the food and drink facilities like at Chessington World of Adventures?
There is a huge variety of food and drink on offer – we didn’t even get to really look at them in detail there seemed to be so many it was confusing!
You can opt for burgers, ‘dirty fries’, a BBQ bar, hot dogs - we chose the Adventure Point Pizza Pasta restaurant which is an eat-as-much-as-you-wish buffet. Although decent value for slightly older children, I paid £7.50 for little Tara and she ate just one slice of pizza and nothing else! On our visit, we spent around £36 for all 4 of us which was reasonable I thought. The restaurant was a little ‘sticky’ and tables a little grubby. But that is what most theme parks are like from past experience. Breakfast was included for Katherine’s family as they were glamping – “We made sure our tummies were stocked up with cereal, a fry-up and fruit,” she says. “There was a lot on offer.”
Can you take a picnic?
If you wanted to take a packed lunch to save money, there are plenty of benches to sit on and picnic areas too. However, depending on what time of year you go, this could end up being a sweaty sandwich by the time you eat it. As long as you are well prepared, have suitable ice boxes etc for drinks and food, this is an option.
What are the toilets like?
There were plenty of toilets around the park and these are well signposted. We didn’t find it to be a problem and queues were not at all bad. Disabled toilets are also available as are baby changing facilities.
How well does it cater for disabled visitors?
- The whole park is pushchair friendly from our experience. Of course you need to park the pushchairs at the start of the queue which may cause some issues if your child doesn’t want to stand for 30 minutes, but all in all, the park is easy to navigate a pushchair or, I imagine, a wheelchair around.
- You can take a mobility scooter to the park and also hire a wheelchair for £10 per day. If wheelchair users need assistance with getting onto rides, that can be requested.
- There is a full disabled guide for Chessington available online.
What to do before you go to Chessington World of Adventures?
Check the website, download the app and try to plan which attractions you wish to see first. Prioritise and target accordingly on the day.
Opening dates and times:
During the summer, the park opens between 10am and 6pm. There are certain days throughout the year where times may differ or the park may be closed so make sure you check the website.
Is it worth a long car journey?
It is definitely worth visiting even if you are not from the area. If you pick and choose your rides and then allow a little time for the zoo, you can spend one full day at Chessington and feel satisfied. However, I would probably recommend staying overnight and touring over two days if you are travelling from a distance. The park closes at 6pm and if you go on a busy day, you can easily spend 3 hours queueing in total for rides and once you take lunchtime out, it doesn’t leave you with much time for more leisurely strolling. Also, waiting for tigers to come out of their dens can take a while so be prepared! There were many talks and shows that we didn’t get to experience – Land of the Tiger Talks, Sea Lion Show, Gorilla Talk and Scatter Feed etc.
Which hotels or holiday accommodation are near Chessington World of Adventures?
- Chessington has multiple options to stay on site, including the Azteca and Safari Resort Hotels, and Explorer Glamping.
- To find hotels near to the resort, check Booking.com.
- For self-catering cottage ideas close to Chessington, look on Holiday Cottages.
- Holiday Extras provide package deals including resort tickets, hotel stays and breakfast.
- For family-friendly holiday home ideas, check Vrbo or Airbnb.
Nearby attractions for a longer day out:
In addition to the theme park and zoo, the Chessington resort also has the action-packed outdoor activity park Go Ape, located in the Explorer Car Park, and the Savannah Splash Pool and Gym that you can book additionally. Other family-friendly attractions nearby include Skywalk Adventure and Hobbledown Adventure Farm Park and Zoo, both are less than a 15-minute drive away from Chessington World of Adventures.
How to get to Chessington World of Adventures:
- Use Postcode KT9 2NE. Chessington is on the A243, two miles from the A3 and M25 (junction 9 or 10). It is very well signposted.
- From the South, take M25 junction 9; From the North, take M25 junction 10; From London, take the A3 to Hook - Chessington is signposted on the A243
- There are regular trains from central London to Chessington South station, a 10-minute walk from the resort. You can find tickets on Trainline.
Is there free parking?
There is plenty of parking – but it’s not free unless you hold an Annual Merlin Pass. We ended up in the Azteca Hotel car park which was fine but the parking is £15 for the day. There is another car park very close to the entrance for £10 a day or you can park on a series of grass car parks just a very short stroll away (5 mins or so) for £4 for the day. We had to wait half an hour exiting our car park at the end due to other customers not having paid for an exit ticket and therefore holding everyone up. You can pre-book car parking online via the website.
Overall, we had a brilliant day out. There was plenty to keep us occupied – we didn’t get time to visit SeaLife or any of the talks – Shark Talk, Land of the Tiger Talk, Carnivore Talk - as my kids wanted to focus on the rides and just have a quick whizz around the zoo. To do it fully, more thoroughly, allow two days - one day for the rides and one day for the zoo. I would advise targeting the rides you really want ahead of your trip, planning what you want to do and above all, downloading the app so you don’t waste time finding your way around or queueing unnecessarily.