Now, we're not a family who often visits theme parks. In fact, we've only visited the one: Legoland a couple of years ago. We made the mistake there of going on the Jolly Rocker as our first ride. Not so jolly, as it turned out--iffy tummies and shattered nerves all round. So, we knew what to avoid at Chessington...
These are some of the things we did:
- We went on the Zufari, which was a very short truck ride round a dusty circuit to see a handful of animals--a giraffe, a a rhino and a couple of zebra. It was all very orchestrated--we went 'off route' at the end of the ride which took us through a (man made) cave in which we briefly stopped and were splashed with water from a 'waterfall'. Hence the wet floor of the truck when we got in... The waiting time for the Zufari was 45 minutes but they'd done their best to make it 'authentic'--right down to the fake dried and cracked mud path on which we queued.
- We watched the sea lion show, which was impressive. It's amazing what the sea lions can do. In the back of my mind, I wondered whether the show was cruel. But the sea lions appeared to be very happy and, as their handlers pointed out, they are intelligent animals and the training stretches them mentally as well as providing physical exercise...which is more than can be said for the big cats which you see in enclosures in these places with no space for anything other than prowling. That, I am sure, is cruel.
- We didn't go on many rides as such and all of those that we did try were pretty tame--the jungle bus, the log flume and the carousel. Thankfully we avoided another Jolly Rocker experience.
The children had a good time at Chessington, I think, and so did the adults--although I have to say that it's not something I'd choose to do, given an option. There's something about the whole theme park concept--the endless queueing, the going on stomach churning rides simply for the thrill of being scared, the entirely artificial environment (what on earth is the point of it all?)--that I just don't quite 'get'.