Chessington World of Adventures or How to completely exhaust pre-schoolers

So it was Mother’s Day. Somewhere in those two little words is a clue as to what sort of day that might be ie: all about the mother. A day where one might choose a spa or a lunch with friends or a bit of family time then a nice long relaxing bath. You get the picture. But one of the side effects of being a working mum is that you take any chance you can to have good quality family time. And since Mother’s Day was all about what I wanted to do today, it took me about two seconds to decide I wanted a day filled with family fun.

We live near Chessington World of Adventures, so we decided that we’d brave it. Well why not? They have a zoo there with lots of animals like Lions, Tigers, Zebras, Gazelles and some other amazing looking creatures I couldn’t name. They also have plenty of rides for children under 1 metre tall which is great since both mine are little.

I have to say that going to a theme park is about as far from our idea of fun as being stuck indoors on a rare sunny day being made to clean the windows or something.  The stuff of nightmares.  But it was the fact it was such a lovely day and that our little girl just loves looking at animals that swung in Chessington’s favour.

I hadn’t realised that my eldest daughter was such a thrill seeker. She practically ran through the queue to the Runaway train, almost knocking over a full grown man in her wake. She flew the big pink elephants as high as they’d go and she wanted the Carousel to go faster and faster. My youngest (20 months) also proved to be ‘up for it’ as they say. Revelling in the Soup Dragon boats, the Toad’s Crazy Cars (for ‘crazy’ read painfully slow and rather surreal experience) and the pink elephants (a firm favourite).  But for a mummy like me, it was just brilliant to watch their delighted little faces. Absolutely priceless.

There are a variety of interesting animals but I have a fundamental problem with seeing a beautiful leopard walking in slow circles and a moth eaten lion tracing his steps back and forth. Something in me finds it desperately sad, but for the children it was a good way to teach them about different countries and the animals that live there. I’m sure they are all brilliantly looked after and many are born and bred at Chessington. ‘Harley’ the Sea Lion was a favourite, who puts on his show of party tricks a couple of times a day. Worth seeing.

It wasn’t particularly busy there today, and the longest queue we saw was 25 mins, but that’s way too long for two children under 4 years old, not to mention two parents under 40! The young children’s rides were about 15 minutes which is fine as long as you are on good distraction form, which I was, miraculously (look at that bird! wow there’s an elephant flying!). There are masses of places to buy food, but we took sandwiches and lots of snacks and drinks and there are plenty of places to picnic. The toilets were clean and easy to find, a pre-requisite for a family with small children.  The park itself is not huge which means there are no long walks to get to anything which is handy when you’re pushing a laden Phil&Teds about, but it is in need of a lick of paint. There’s no denying that ‘Falling Down House’ in Toytown looks as if it’s living up to it’s name rather too well and there is an air of old-fashioned sea-side resort to some of the rides. But in many ways that’s all part of the charm for me. It’s not all pristine, it’s really rather, well, English to be honest.

There are all sorts of deals to be done online and if you pre-book but we’re a bit rubbish at forward planning so we paid at the gate which was eye-wateringly expensive (£71-ish for 2 adults – our kids went free because they are both under a metre tall). I think though it is worth the money for a one-off special treat for the children, if you can afford it. My eldest will store bits of today in her little memory bank and she’ll talk about it for years to come. My youngest is too little to remember much but she had such fun and was in dreamland by the time we left.

After the excitement we were all a bit weary when we got home, but my husband still managed a kick about with a football in the garden with the girls, whilst I got the enviable Mother’s Day job of doing the housework (would I sound weird if I said I really wanted some time to actually do that? I would? Oh okay then..).  They both collapsed in bed around 7ish meaning I have an evening free to have my long Mother’s Day bath.



Best prices for Chessington World of Adventures are available by pre-booking through AttractionTix.

  • 1-Day tickets: £27 for adults and children aged 12+ (instead of £37.20 at the gate), £19 for children 4 – 11 (instead of £27). Little ones under 1 m or under age 4 go free.
  • Chessington Zoo and SEA LIFE only tickets: £12 for adults and children aged 12+, £8 for children 4 – 11. Little ones under 1 m or under age 4 go free.


Written by Holly

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