2 years. A lot can happen in that time, and for me that has involved a baby. So that has also meant 2 years without theme park trips (unfortunately a 2021/22 New Years Trip to Europa Park got spited by Covid rules changing) and it's been a interesting time.
So behold a trip report to Chessie. My first theme park many a year ago, felt only right to continue such a rite of passage to my own spawn who will be forced to endure terrible football (already done) and varying quality theme parks. Chessie has changed a lot since my last visit over 7 years ago, or has it?
First stop (after many toing and froing from the entrance to Guest Services), was the new hot thing in [b]Mandrill Mayhem[/b]. I've posted some brief comments on this in the relevant topic, but will do a little bit of deeper looking here.
The area is... lacklustre. Obviously not helped with the small area upon which it resides, completely encircled by the cred itself and security fences, nor is it helped by the jungle theme and distinct lack of actual jungle currently present. The single pathway around also seems to be a problematic bottleneck, since the central area is cut through with planting and activities, it's certainly a design choice and not one that particularly works for a dead end area hosting the first coaster seen since 2004. The jaguar centrepiece is typical Merlin fair, and due to the layout of the coaster itself lends to great views of it.
The coaster itself is just, ok. It is a good addition for the park it sits in, but as the new headline coaster fails to solve the issues that have plagued the park over the years. The queue looks god awful (presumably why the virtual queue system was put in place), and not being able to stand in the air gates until the train is coming into park confuses me. Remember when many were claiming the John Wardley said they had solved the throughput issue? Still waiting for the answer there, as the ops are still fairly slow and not helped by the single train (also, they sent RAP queuers to the right side via stairs, which is just... no guys). The actual experience is fun, but doesn't stretch much further beyond that. The launches are surprisingly punchy (yet the beginning backwards one has zero fanfare?) and it's very floaty. The helix spike is uncomfortable as predicted.
It's a missed opportunity. I think a clone of the Wing-Rider built at Lego Germany would've been just as good an addition, with potential for decent throughput. I guess Swarm's existence put paid to such a thing, but there's so many potential options out there these days that whilst it's fab to see a B&M at Chessie, why did it have to be this one?
Anyway, up next we headed over to [b]Gruffalo[/b]. Big old change from Bubbleworks and baby's first ever ride, so a big milestone that. She enjoyed it, and actually I did too. Almost cosy I think is a good description of it, even if it's fairly basic in terms of things to look at (compared to the older days of things EVERYWHERE). Cutesy and twee and the moved ORP makes far more sense than the original location. Have the middle fountains been taken out in the finale section as well?
In traditional fashion, followed up with [b]Vampire[/b]. Running 2 trains but the operations were slow. Running fairly well though so that's something at least? Also what have they done to the station music? Awful.
Went to Pizza Pasta for lunch. Doesn't seem to be a great deal of options for proper sit down meals at Chessie if you don't want to get poisoned at Burger Kitchen and I got out-voted for Smokehouse. God the prices are obscene for food there now, but guess it's just a reflection of modern life now. It was acceptable.
Wandered around the zoo for a bit. Forgot how much got spited by the addition of the second hotel around Amazu which is a bit depressing. Zoo hasn't really changed beyond that though, though Wanyama's area is poorly designed in terms of pathway width and the ridiculous walk to Zufari. Which I sat out of to babysit but apparently is even more of a Depressing Cave these days. Went to see the Tigers and whilst out that whole area seems really oppressive with the giant fencing now. Didn't do Tiger Falls either cos weather.
Decided to go on [b]Tomb Blaster[/b]. My gun didn't work but jeez the ride is in a bit of a mess. Another shoed-in storyline which... Yeah. The boulder seems to be missing completely and the areas around the Anubis statue and Snake are just... lacklustre without the old soundtrack. Feels like it would need far more than the Alty Mans treatment to make it somewhat more acceptable.
Bit annoyed that they've changed the cars on [b]Jungle Truckers[/b] to reduce the number of adults. Toadies used to be a staple in the day! It was fine and the Capybaras were out. Also did [b]Sea Dragons[/b] which made me nostalgic and [b]Dragon's Fury[/b] where had just 2 adults and it was spinning like mad. Cemented as the best coaster in the park by miles. Did the [b]Carousel[/b] and [b]Jumbos[/b] as well to up the baby ride count as well, but very little to really say on those.
Back to other new things, [b]Room on the Broom[/b], where the ride host got plus points for keeping us separated by the awful group of teens who were going on it. This was a real surprise here, especially compared to what Hocus Pocus Hall used to be. Lots of interaction for the kids and didn't feel like it was put together for about £5. Sure baby would enjoy it when older should it still exist in the future.
Did Sea-Life where the staff were very chatty, then hit up [b]Blue Barnacle[/b] after some did the Vile Villager walkthrough which was apparently good. The best thing about the new ship (which looks really small) are the goats that watch over you. After some drinks it was back over to Gruffalo and one more spin on Mandrill Mayhem. Must note here that the booking vanished for me the second time around but the staff member was able to find it so at least was solved. Would've put a really bad spin on the day if hadn't been able to ride it. Second time round was really bouncy which is concerning for a ride not even a year old.
And that was it. As we were very out of the theme park mode called it about 6:30 and went to Monkey Puzzle for dinner. I've certainly missed the theme park experiences over the years and going around with the additional mindset of baby (on top of the wheelchair using aspect) makes things a bit different. Chessie was always good for a meander and giggle though over the years when visiting and at least it still is in that respect. Although I must admit the park is very hit and miss in terms of the quality. Croc Drop wasn't spinning and generally didn't bother with it, and don't even think we went into Mexicana more than just to walk through it. Areas like the old Alpine Cafe which is now extended depressing cattlepen land and others are just really weird to look at in terms of a distinct lack of decent thought processes to make it look half decent. The two Julia Donaldson rides are really sweet but even on a quiet day the operations were little to be desired.
Jumanji probably should've been a big step for the park in the right direction. I mean it's the biggest addition since Zufari (maybe even Wild Asia) and yet it does little to solve the flaws of the park. The reliability also didn't seem great as Kobra was dead all day, as well as Griffins and Scorpion Express. Rattlesnake opened late as well.
I dunno, it's itched the theme park bug and hopefully next year will be a bit more substantial in terms of numbers. Though having to go to Thorpe does depress me somewhat.
We shall see.