A whole host of celebrities from the world of show business such as ex-model Jodie Kidd, SSGB actor Jason Flemyng and singer Sophie Ellis Bextor were invited to celebrate the launch of the Guffalo River Ride at Chessington World of Adventures Resort. And so was Monkey and I…
Since starting My Travel Monkey, we’ve been able to attend many wonderful events. Some of which, are money-can’t-buy experiences, and this one tops them all. Not only did we get to mingle (albeit from a far) with famous faces during an evening dining session at the resort’s Smokehouse BBQ and Bar – which served the most delicious beef brisket and pulled pork, as well as scrummy Gruffalo cupcakes – but we got to road test Chessington’s newest ride before the general public. And the best bit by far? We got to meet Gruffalo creators Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, who signed several books for us.
Our Gruffalo adventure began with us checking in to Chessington’s on site resort hotels. Children are at the forefront of the experience and the hotel lobby impressed with its African safari decor, bean bags and TV screens showing cartoons, as well as a small enclosure housing reptiles.
While we didn’t get to stay in a Gruffalo themed room at the Safari Hotel, we did get to enjoy the comforts of a Discovery family room in the Azteca Hotel. It was spacious and clean, and Monkey delighted in being able to sleep in his own bunk bed. He also loved the different tropical touches in the room, from a rainforest carpet to the wildlife pictures on the walls.
Breakfast in the Temple Bar Restaurant the next morning was a pleasant affair. Set in a mythical ancient temple, the restaurant has large screens showing different wildlife from monkeys jumping through trees to lizards resting on rocks, as well as a huge floor to ceiling tank filled with real piranha fish. Monkey was fascinated by them and enjoyed the atmosphere.
Although it was busy, we still managed to find a table quickly and get to the food stations without waiting. From a wide selection of cereals and sweet pastries, there was also the usual fry up specials of sausages, bacon, hash browns with the works. Meanwhile, the kids section offered up similar but with spaghetti hoops and scrambled eggs. We enjoyed the food on offer – although more fruit choices would have been welcomed.
The Gruffalo River Ride
It was all rather surreal turning up at the Gruffalo River Ride. I had a sense of déjà vu, as having spent a lot of my childhood at Chessington, I immediately recognised where we were standing – at the old Professor Bubble Works Ride. It was then I understood the concept of the new Gruffalo experience, having been on it several times in its previous guise. Monkey was beyond excited and it made a nice change to be able to walk straight in and onto the ride. What worried me was the warnings that we were going to get wet!
As you sit on a giant tub, it takes you through a journey into the deep dark wood, where you are introduced to the mouse and all the characters he meets along the way. Through lighting, props, special effects, as well as music and sound from the cartoon film, the ride whirls you around, before you come face to face with the Gruffalo himself. Then there’s a small crescendo that pulls you under fountains of water, which Monkey adored.
It’s loud, dark and you do get a little wet – but if you love the story, you’ll enjoy the ride. Monkey did, so much so we went around three times!
And what was the best way to end our adventure? By getting some scrambled snake of course, a yummy helping of frozen yoghurt, white chocolate and gummy snake sweets…
For a more detailed look at our stay at Chessington’s Azteca Hotel, a sneak peek of our turn on the Gruffalo River Ride and us meeting Julia and Axel, check out our video:
* We were invited to stay at the Azteca Hotel and experience the Gruffalo River Ride by Chessington World of Adventures. Short breaks at Chessington start from £37.25 per person for a family of four and this includes a hotel stay plus entry into the park.