Last night we headed off for one of our most exciting invitations to date. We were guests of Chessington World of Adventures to experience the brand new Gruffalo River Ride Adventure before it opened to the public. We were treated to a room in the Azteca Hotel for the night and our first experience of a Chessington World of Adventures hotel was so, so good!
The children had a separate sleeping area with bunk beds as well as a pull out trundle bed and their very own TV. The room was decorated to be in keeping with the hotel, there were jungle scenes and animals everywhere and the children have said it’s their favourite hotel they have ever stayed in!
But, we didn’t spend much time in the room as last night we spent the evening being wined and diner in the Steakhouse BBQ restaurant in Chessington World of Adventures. There was a live band, The Gruffalo playing on a big screen and crafts for the children – as well as Gruffalo themed food and drinks too. It was such a nice evening and the children slept so well before our big day today.
We got up early, had a great hotel breakfast and then went into Chessington World of Adventures really early to experience the Gruffalo River Ride Adventure. It didn’t open to the public until midday so getting to ride on it – and stay on it for as long as we wanted – at 8:45am was a pretty special thing.
The ride is where the old Bubbleworks used to be but there is no sign of the old ride – the area has even been renamed Wild Woods and everything is Gruffalo themed. It’s as if it has always been there and The Gruffalo is just such a great theme for the new ride.
At the entrance to the ride there’s a green screen photo opportunity and then you head straight in to the dimly lit world of the deep dark forest. You’re sat in round boats that flow smoothly on the river as you make your way through the world of The Gruffalo.
The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure takes you through the book with the mouse meeting the fox, owl and snake. There are scenes from the animation shown on screens and you can hear noises from the forest as well as lines from the book. But, there’s also smells of roasted fox and Gruffalo crumble – Gruffalo River Ride Adventure is an all-sensory experience and you cannot help but be transported to the world of The Gruffalo.
The first time we went around the ride I was in awe of how much thought had gone into it. The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure isn’t just a ride, it’s a whole experience and for the time that you are on the ride you really are in the deep dark wood – it was beautiful and amazing in equal measure.
There are water aspects to the ride that anyone who rode on the Bubbleworks will be familiar with but it’s not a ride you have to get wet on. There’s also a photo point near the end. The whole ride is quite dark but not overly scary – LP and Little Man really enjoyed the ride but Little Man was holding my hand tightly throughout – he was nervous of the dark, expecting things to jump out but they didn’t, it’s really not a scary ride and as long as you warn children that it will be like the deep dark forest they should be fine. Both children really enjoyed it.
After the ride we got the opportunity to have books signed by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. The children had brought along their favourite Julia Donaldson books and Axel even took the time to draw a little picture in every child’s book. It was so nice of them and so, so appreciated.
It was then time to get frozen yogurt from the new Gruffalo Bites outlet which we all really enjoyed. It obviously had Gruffalo themed flavours and any child would love the novelty of it. It was a lovely treat and a nice alternative to ice cream.
We then spent the rest of the day in the park and the children loved experiencing the real Chessington World of Adventures for the first time – after having a brief visit to see Father Christmas last year. I filmed our ride on the Gruffalo River Ride Adventure – but please don’t watch if you don’t want any spoilers. It was our ride, filmed on a GoPro so it is what you’re going to get when you go BUT the quality isn’t great and you really do have to be there to experience it fully. It really is worth queuing for and we will definitely be joining the queue next time we are at Chessington World of Adventures.