Chessington World of Adventures Resort opened their gates this weekend for their Annual Passholder Preview Days, offering the first opportunity to take a look at the changes which has taken place across the theme park. SouthParks were there to take a look at all the developments.

With the imminent arrival of the Gruffalo, a number of changes have taken in place in what was formerly known as Transylvania with the area having undergone a re-name to Wild Woods. Work was still ongoing on the exterior of what will be The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure, with construction of the exterior queueline and covering still in progress. Many of the building exteriors above the new Gruffalo Ride have received a re-paint and are now bright blues and greens with artificial vegetation to add to the exterior theming. Several of the retail and food and beverage outlets have also received new names with the area’s snack outlet now called ‘Gruffalo Bites’ and the Vampire Shop now ‘The Gruffalo Gift Shop’. Although open for the Passholder Preview Weekend, The Gruffalo Gift Shop clearly still had some work left to do in preparation for the opening of the Gruffalo Ride next weekend with several display areas still empty and awaiting the final touches to be completed. As guests head towards Vampire, the exterior wall of Vampire Burger Kitchen has received a Wild Woods inspired re-paint. Vampire has also received some new features during the closed season, the most noticeable being the addition of new, exit air gates in the station which have been added to prevent people entering the ride area from the far side of the ride. The air gates on the embarkation side of the station have also received new metal mesh work to prevent people from ducking underneath the bars into the ride area. Sadly the chandeliers have not made a return to the station. In the main queueline a number of new theming elements have been added.

Another area to have received The Gruffalo treatment is the Africa stage which has now become The Gruffalo Arena. Expected to open at the same time as The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure, the Arena will host a range of Gruffalo activities including meet and greets, photo opportunities, and screenings of The Gruffalo Film. Of course, this also means that The Penguins of Madagascar have departed from the Resort, therefore the ride next to the Arena has reverted to its former name, Treetop Hoppers. Whilst the exact programme of activities taking place in the Arena is yet to be announced, it would seem to be that there will no longer be a live show in that area, a move which will disappoint many guests. With Pandamonium also being reduced to shows in the summer holidays only, it is disappointing to see another Merlin attraction reduce their live entertainment offering.