Chessington World of Adventures Resort opened the gates to the theme park for the first time in 2018 this weekend for the annual passholder preview event. Whilst Land of the Tiger may not open until May, there was still plenty to take a look at – SouthParks rounds up all the details from preview weekend.

Whilst the Resort’s newest attraction isn’t set to open until May 5th, this weekend provided one of the first opportunities to take a look at how construction was progressing on the transformation of Mystic East into Land of the Tiger. The internal structure for the tiger head rockwork has been installed around the drop of Tiger Rock (the new name for the Resort’s log flume formerly known as Dragon Falls), and the first metal wire framework is in place which will form the base for the rockwork theming. The main tiger enclosures look almost complete, with each enclosure featuring a range of elements from platforms to pools to help enrich the tigers’ environment. Some of the viewing windows which will allow guests to observe the tigers can also been seen. Although much of the new development looks to be being completed to a high standard, one area that doesn’t look quite so in-keeping with the area is the back of the Tiger House which can be seen from the queue line of Kobra. Much of the trees and greenery which used to screen Mystic East from Wild Asia has been removed, exposing the concrete walls of the newly constructed building which houses the tigers when they’re not in their enclosure.

Vampire has received some new lighting in its station for this season with lights now projecting into the area where the ride train pulls into the station for loading and unloading. However, the multi-coloured spot lights above the airgates remain which somewhat spoils the ambience of the area. Tomb Blaster has had both the roller boulder and trommel tunnel effects fixed, however on our ride the attraction was having some issues with the audio with some sections unfortunately having no music playing at all. Black Buccaneer was also unavailable for the weekend with the pirate ship still absent from its dock following winter maintenance. Rameses Revenge also appeared to be experiencing some reliability issues with the ride only being intermittently available. After debuting during the 2017 season, the water feature which forms part of the top of the Chessington Adventure Tree was not working over the weekend, although it is unknown if this has been turned off permanently.

There have also been changes to the food and beverage offering across the Resort. One which seems to be dividing opinion is the removal of full fat Coca Cola and Sprite from the post mix machines in all outlets. It is understood that this is a decision taken in light of the new sugar tax being introduced by the UK Government and it is expected that this will be in effect across many of Merlin’s attractions, however many are unhappy at the omission of the full fat options arguing that they should still have the choice of the full fat beverage. Full fat soft drinks are still available to purchase in bottles in the Resort’s shops. Following a trial in October last year, self-service kiosks have been installed in Vampire’s Burger Kitchen. Counter service is still available for those guests who wish to order that way. Over in Mexicana, Mexican Cantina shows no indications of being open for 2018 with the outlet still having themed graphics on all its windows.

At the main lodge entrance the floor has been completely tarmacked replacing the concrete floor which was there previously. Whilst it is good to see the Resort replacing some of its worn out flooring, it is a shame to see them using a harsh black tarmac rather than an option more sympathetic to the overall feel of the Resort. Following the removal of the pond by the Gruffalo Arena last year, the area where the pond once was is now occupied only by a strip of fenced off grass. The abandoned jeep which last year was a neutral khaki colour has new received a tiger themed makeover having been painted in bright orange with black stripes.