This past Saturday Chessington officially launched the newly re-themed area Land of the Tiger including Tiger Rock log flume. The week before on 28th April, we were invited along to the Press Launch for the area. The launch took place between 10 am – 12noon, where those invited could explore the area and ride Tiger Rock as many times as we liked.
The event started with check-in at the Glamping Village, where some of the attendees had spent the previous night. Once checked in, they handed out free tiger ears, ponchos and lanyards with both Glamping Village & Tiger Rock pop badges to the children in our group and we were instructed to make our way to Wild Asia to wait for our escort into the Land of the Tiger.
At 10 am we were all led from Wild Asia and to the new entry portal of Land of the Tiger. The difference in the area is instantly apparent, where once there was a fairly non-descript pathway, is now encompassed by the new Tiger enclosures, with one of the overhead trails spanning the entry portal where the Tigers can roam about freely. The area surrounding the splashdown of Tiger Rock has seriously transformed. Gone is Peeking Heights and the numerous midway attractions, which have all been replaced by the three Tiger Enclosures, which encompass the area, and of course there is the new Tiger Rock structure.
Dragon Falls was at one time probably the UK’s most recognizable log flume, with the temple wall structures flanking the drop, but obviously, in recent years, these were removed, leaving a fairly generic looking log flume on view. This has now changed in a big way. The titular Tiger Rock structure looks amazing, it not only does a great job of masking the main drop from view, it anchors the area with a stunning focal point that makes the entire area feel like an attraction in itself. There is no getting away from the fact that the neighbouring tiger enclosures are made up of huge steel cage fences, but all the viewing areas accessible to guest are all themed well, with either wooden cladded walls (which feature claw marks all over) or research style tent covers, and the landscaping that has been put in place around the rest of the enclosures should in the coming years do a good job of masking the majority of the cage walls from view.
Once we’d fully explored the splashdown area we ventured further into the area, passing underneath the second overhead trail and crossing over the bridge the Tiger Rock passes below on its way back to the station. This bridge is now an attraction in itself as the Tigers have their own bridge running parallel with just large glass windows separating you. On our visit the Tigers seemed very curious about the boats passing underneath, so we had some great up-close views of them along the bridge.
The rest of the area is now a fairly familiar sight, the giant Buddha still sits by Tiger Rock’s lift hill alongside Mystic Donuts, which is still open for business, but now has the addition of Tiger Churros. Rounding the corner, we noticed that the once colourful Dragon tunnel entrance has now been smoothed over to look like normal rock work, which is a slight shame, with the stellar rockwork on the main Tiger Rock structure, it would’ve been great to see a smaller Tiger’s mouth be created for the tunnel entrance. The area surrounding the Tiger Rock station hasn’t seen any major changes since the Mystic East days, but it has been given a great vibrant new colour scheme, with bright reds, oranges & yellows filling the area with a fresh new look.
In the transformation from Dragon Fall into Tiger Rock a lot of the ride trough has been completely refurbished, which at a time when the other UK parks seem to be removing or neglecting their flume rides is a big plus for Chessington. The station now looks stunning with some simple of really striking silhouette lighting effects on the main wall, and some periodic lighting and projection effects accompanied by a Tiger’s roar. The ride itself is fairly similar to its Dragon Falls days, the tunnel has seen the biggest update, which now features some new lightning effects, a cave landscape effect on the wall and a smoking Tigers head just as you exit the tunnel. It’s all fairly simple but effective and elevates what was once a dark tunnel into a nice feature of the ride. Straight after exiting the tunnel is the closest interaction with the Tiger enclosures as the boat curves around next to some large glass windows, which on our visit saw some of the Tigers actually chasing the boats along. The final change to the ride is the main Tiger Rock structure itself, which on a slightly unfortunate note is not as impressive on the ride as it is off the ride. The back of the structure, while well themed in that it looks like a genuine rock structure, it is a fairly flat walled surface, this is obviously only a small critique as ultimately you only see it for a split second as you plunge down the drop, and the surrounding structure on the drop provides a fun head chopper effect.
Overall, the Land of the Tiger & Tiger Rock is a great refresh of the tired Mystic East area. While the number of rides has dropped the addition of the Tigers and Tiger Rock structure make the area feel complete and really give it a wow factor that was missing before. As previously said it’s great to see a park investing in their flume ride, and while Tiger Rock isn’t a new ride it’s been refreshed enough to breathe new life into it and the interaction with the Tiger enclosures adds a new element that is hard to find anywhere else. Thanks to Chessington for inviting us along for the event and congratulations on the launch of the refreshed area.