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The 6pm opening was always planned as of the first weekend in August. It wasn't a sudden change. There were still many complaints before this date as they were shutting at 5pm for first two weeks of summer holidays. Crazy. They kept saying it was to be considerate to neighbours, but saying that the traffic when closing at 5pm is worse than when closing at 6pm due to it being rush hour and traffic in the area busier than normal so that didn't make much sense either.

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Just checked Chessington website and standard close does seem to be 6pm for rest of summer now.  Reason I thought it was extended is because I overheard a staff member being asked when the park closed and they responded "5pm...oh wait no, we've changed it to 6pm now".  Way it was said sounded like it was an extension made on the day.


Serves me right for eavesdropping I suppose! :')

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  • 1 year later...

Yesterday I visited the park for one of the Pass Holder days. Here’s how I got on.


Vampire was one of the first rides of the day, featuring operations that were neither brilliant or terrible. The station features quirky new lights near the platform which were ok, but in no way do not compensate the fact the chandeliers are still missing whilst the rest of the station remains to be poorly lit like a school disco. The incorrect audio version and mismatch queue with mostly D.I.Y theming remains. The organist had about zero life in him.


Tomb Blaster was again in a poor state. The audio throughout the ride is the worst I’ve seen it, with the opening music and sound effects missing until the Mummy scene and the audio afterwards stopping and starting continuously. Some lighting was also broken. Previous issues affecting the ride since it’s terrible refurbishment remained the same. The exterior is still a neglected mess. The cars seem to be stopping longer on the Mummy and Cobra scenes which is the only positive I can find.


Hocus Pocus Hall used to be a quirky amusing little attraction, but has literally be ruined by the excursion of 3D glasses. It completely ruins the attraction and makes it inferior to what it once was. What’s more, the pre-shoe has been overdubbed to remove mention of the glasses in a poor way and adds further insult to injury. The attraction is now an embarrassment.


Rattlesnake seem to feature very slow operations, where it seemed to be running just one car on the circuit for some reason. The scenery and theming remains in a poor state with ageing models, some of which seem to have been removed. Dragons Fury was still badly stacking. The ride badly needs a repaint as the track has faded so much now, with red looking more like a pale pink. 


Much of the rest of the park looks a sorry state. The former Skyway area and castle still look a complete mess and either need thorough cleaning or complete removal. The patch of grass replacing the pond still looks meh and the Cantina Restaurant still looks abandoned. Pandemonium also looks to be part time only, which is mentioned as returning in the Summer. The battered sausage and chips meal was rather mediocre and the staff seemed to mess up a few orders. I suppose it’s still better than PA and I’ll forgive the staff this once because they are new. Zufari ran just two trucks and normal Coke seems to have+been ditched in favour of Coke Zero.


In previous years, there has been some of excitement during the beginning of the season, with one full of optimism and potential for better. This time round I didn’t particularly feel that and found park rather underwhelming with noticeably less atmosphere than previous visits. Whether that be I spent 2/3 of the day alone or the fact of possible park overkill, remains difficult to be seen. 


Right, before I get complained at I’ll end this apparent negative review on a more positive note. 


A lot of the staff seemed more friendly and helpful. Operations may have not been the best, but at the end of day, whilst it’s pass holder day for most of us, it’s technically rehearsal day for a lot of the staff, who are probably new and still getting the hand of the ropes. I would like to also mention how well the Gruffalo team dealt with a shut down due to guest action. It certainly gave me and Tomb a lot of time to appreciate the details in the finale room. 


The progression of Land Of The Tigers looks an interesting one. Whilst I will hold off full judgement until it opens, I sincerely hope it will not only provide a new experience to the park, but also delivery a deserved re-working of the Flume, which has been in poor shape aesthetically for several years. 


It was also great to spot some new pins new pins in the shop and catching up with numerous members of the enthusiast community. The repainted Squirtalot and Coffin bits were nice additions too.


Thanks For Reading. 

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I hate to be negative, especially towards a park that’s had so much significance personally, but I cannot help but notice the shocking flaws within the park.


With the exception of Gruffalo, most of the main rides are in a shocking condition. Missing/broken/removed theming with budget repairs, poor and incorrect lighting (Vampire and Tomb come to mind) and numerous exterior area’s continuing to decay and remain run down. Probably until they are either rethemed or a victim to knee-jerk safety measures. 


The majority of staff seem to put in put in an effort with the limitations they have, but when uppers cannot offer sufficient budget and resources, then there’s little that can be done and things continue to slip. 


Building or updating attractions is only half the battle as the park (probably like most in the group) need a steady yet consistent upkeep scheme that ensures key areas and elements receive deserving attention. Even simple things like repainting walls and jetwashing roofs is a good start. Many parks out there do these on a yearly basis, whilst at Chessington and the like we are lucky if it happens ever.


I feel particularly pessimistic on Hocus Pocus. Whilst it was never a groun breaking attraction, it was full of so much simple charm and character, making it an amusing distraction. Without the glasses, it’s almost pointless to experience the attraction which is equivalent to watching a major blockbuster without any special effects. Sadly I’d say there is a greater chance of this closing/being replaced than for the park being able to reinvest in new glasses. Overall it’s poor.


The likes of Gruffalo and upcoming Tiger Rock bring some greatness to the place, however the rest continues to slip away. 

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