On the 18th March We wandered down to Chessington World of Adventures for the premiere and opening of The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure (At least we think that's the name). The press event took place between the hours of 8:00am and 12:00pm in the morning with the ride opening to the general public after that.
We arrived at the hotel looking forward to our journey into the deep dark wood but first, breakfast! Chessington had put on a little breakfast for us, basically the same experience you would get as a hotel guest. A nice, unlimited supply of bacon, eggs, beans and... you get the point! After we had filled our stomachs we waited outside the Azteca restaurant for our slot to start and for us to be escorted into the park for a couple of rides on the ride itself!
Once we were escorted in we were greeted in the Wild Woods by some friendly Owls.
"Silly old Owl, don't you know! There's no such thing as a Gruffalo!" We told them as we entered the repainted section of Transylvania, but nether the less, the owls ignored us. We spent some time checking out the new area and decided, it was time to enter the deep dark wood and put our fears at rest. Is this a Bubbleworks beater?,
We entered the exterior queue line that was covered in various artwork from the books, The music around the area was tranquil, with ambient sounds such as birds, bees and the sound of trees blowing in the wind as well as a subtle soundtrack. It was a nice bit of audio for the ride and the area.
Before you enter the internal queue line you get the oppertunity to have a green screen photo, where you had to look as scared as you can when the Gruffalo jumped out from behind the bushes. Of course the Gruffalo was on a screen but as far as green screen photo op's go, this one was pretty nice.
As we entered the internal queue, you could see that we were all tentative and had many questions on our mind:
"What have they done to the Transylvania street outside that beloved Pop factory?"
"Is it just going to be cardboard cut outs around the ride?"
These questions and more, were about to be answered.
As soon as we stepped into the show building we were transported to the world of the Gruffalo, the artwork from the outside littered the walls, foliage hanging from the ceiling and a beautiful array of lights lit up the station. We got to the station after so many months of anticipation... and it... was... good!
All of a sudden, any ounce of dread suddenly... vanished! We excitedly got our little wooden boats and set sail on our journey.
I will not spoil the ride for any of you, but let's just say we were all thoroughly impressed. The use of effects, smell pots, lighting were excellent and a great addition to the park. Do I personally prefer it to the Bubbleworks? Yes, I probably do, however I only saw the ride in its last 3-4 years. For most with more of a sentimental attachment to Bubbleworks It probably won't beat it, but almost certainly all of those reading this are not the rides target audience.
The gift shop has a good range of Gruffalo branded merchandise, however from my knowledge I couldn't remember seeing anything exclusive to the ride itself.,
Now onto the rest of the event! The books author was doing book signings in the gift shop which caused a little bit of a jam for those not wanting anything signed but all was resolved pretty quickly.
We also had the opportunity to try out the areas new frozen yoghurt stand, Gruffalo Treats. The stall offered around six different topping options, with the same vanilla frozen yoghurt and all named after food mentioned throughout the ride. I tried the Gruffalo Crumble topping option and very much enjoyed it.
Overall the area looked fresh and revitalised, my only critique with the area is the transition from the Wild Woods to the remainder of Transylvania, It just didn't feel quite right and was always a concern of mine when the ride was announced however, i'll admit it looked better than expected.,
In conclusion, We would like to thank Chessington for inviting us down to experience the launch event of this very impressive attraction, I think the ride is a success for Chessington and the team at Merlin Magic Making. They produced a high quality attraction that is probably the most impressive new attraction to open at any Merlin UK Theme Park for a long time. Sure it's not perfect, but it's pretty damn good!