Family time offline and away from it all seems increasingly rare these days, with work commitments and monthly trips overseas. But all work and no play makes for incredibly bored children during half term week, so I took some time off and we spent the afternoon at Chessington World of Adventures to experience their Halloween event, or ‘HowlOween’ as they call it.
I’ll admit to being slightly hesitant. We love Chessington but IJ hasn’t wanted anything to do with Halloween this year, put off by stories of killer clowns, made worse by playground gossip and late night Whatsapp messages discussing the latest reported sightings.
So I might have neglected to mention Chessington’s Halloween celebration until we were about out to leave. But I need not have worried. IJ and her cousins loved the decorations and there wasn’t a clown in sight.
In fact there was a definite buzz of excitement about the park, mostly because it was the first day of half term and the rides were open until 8pm! Queues for the majority of the rides weren’t too long and it felt busy but not over-crowded, which was perfect.
Children were posing to have their photographs taken in this fun, giant pumpkin as we arrived, but IJ refused, because it’s not what you do when you’re 13 apparently.
Face painted guests and staff in costumes added to the atmosphere and clearly huge effort had done into decorating the resort. There were pumpkins everywhere and they looked fabulous.
There were plenty of skeletons too but it wasn’t overdone, which seemed right given it is a family resort.
It was horror, family-style, and it was done well.
When it came to rides we followed our usual routine of log flume, followed by the Monkey Swings and the Temple of Mayhem in Wild Asia. The Temple of Mayhem is a hidden gem for younger guests, particularly those too small (or not confident enough) to go on many of the standard rides/attractions.
It’s a a two-storey house of adventure where you can explore, run wild and shoot your fellow adventurers with plastic balls as they make their own way through the temple. It’s noisy but great fun, according to Cousin T, aged 5.
When it came to the Monkey Swings I enjoyed the ride from below this time, my excuse of course that I needed to take photographs. I was a blogger at work, was the line used whenever I wanted to avoid going on a ride.
I made up for my lack of participation in the arcade. I’m secretly quite addicted to 2p slot machines. They remind me of happy family holidays by the sea when I was much younger. Plus there’s nothing better than eventually watching those piles of coins fall, even if you do put them straight back in again!
We avoided the bigger rides, for which I was thankful. I’m slightly nervous about the day IJ asks me to go on anything that involves travelling at speed, hanging upside down, or both! The entrance is as close as we got to Dragon’s Fury, which is ‘a roller coaster ride through dizzying twists and turns, dips and dives and all the while your car is spinning and spinning’. Enough said.
We ended our day as we always do, with a quick walk around the zoo and a glimpse at the sea lions, followed and a large cup of steaming hot chocolate. Bliss.
With a last look at the pumpkins in the entrance as we left, Halloween at Chessington was over for another year.
But then, just as we were leaving, we spotted something totally unexpected. Not a clown or a staff member in costume or a ride we hadn’t seen before. Something far more noteworthy – a brand new glamping area tucked away in the forest. It’s coming in 2017 and it looks fabulous.
We don’t camp but we do glamp. It’s got us thinking …
Special thanks to Merlin for our Merlin Annual Passes. I’m a Merlin Pass Ambassador for 2016. We’ve been provided with family passes for the year but all opinions are my own.