Thursday, 7 December 2017

Nemesis Nick's Birthday Outing 2017

Date: Saturday 30 September 2017
Venue: Chessington World of Adventures
Who Went: Just me

N.B. Any use of "today" in this report means Saturday 30 September 2017.

Saturday 30 September 2017 was my 46th birthday and, as usual, my biggest decision was where to go to mark the occasion. The last four years my birthday outing consisted of a day at Thorpe Park followed by a celebratory evening meal at Harvester, Staines. All four were amazing days out. Although my initial thoughts were to go to Thorpe Park again, I considered visiting Chessington World of Adventures as an alternative this time. After some thought during early September 2017, I made a firm decision to spend my 46th birthday at Chessington World of Adventures, and on 11 September 2017 I saved myself money by booking an advance web ticket there. This was only my second ever visit to Chessington World of Adventures to-date (having first been there for the RCCGB Summer Bash in June 2010), and my first ever solo visit there. For the seventh year running I had a special birthday T-shirt of my own design printed about a fortnight before my birthday; for the third year running I had it printed at John Moore Sports, Bath.

Getting to Chessington World of Adventures
It was necessary for me to wake up at 04:30, which for me is exceptionally early, in order to get myself ready in time to catch the 06:13 GWR train from Bath Spa to London Paddington. Having reached London Paddington at 07:44 I transferred to Waterloo on the Underground. After that I continued my journey on the 08:32 South Western Railway train from London Waterloo to Wimbledon, whereupon I just had time to buy myself a takeaway medium Americano from Costa to drink on the 09:12 South Western Railway train to Chessington South. When I finally reached Chessington South at 09:29, I walked to Lodge Gate, Chessington World of Adventures.

Chessington World of Adventures

Welcome to Chessington World of Adventures
I arrived at Lodge Gate around 09:45. The Advance Ticket Collection point was already open, so without further ado I collected my pre-booked ticket. Having collected my ticket, I proceeded to the entrance and was admitted immediately. However the rides were not open yet; they were due to open at 10:00.

Morning Riding

Dragon's Fury
My first ride of the day was Dragon's Fury. This Maurer Rides Spinning Coaster SC3000 has been operating at Chessington World of Adventures since March 2004. I joined the single rider queue and managed to get on the ride surprisingly quickly. Each ride car can seat four riders. The ride car set off up the hill and spun as it worked its way around the track. This was a really thrilling ride to start the day, in my opinion the most exciting of the Park's four coasters. Having left the ride, I enjoyed two more goes on Dragon's Fury; both of which I got on to it quite quickly via the single rider queue.

Having left Dragon's Fury, I sat down nearby for a few minutes' rest before going on anything else.

This Zamperla Mega Disk'O Coaster began operating at Chessington World of Adventures in 2010. In fact, during the RCCGB Summer Bash 2010 in June 2010, the Club was due to end the day with an ERS on KOBRA, but it was out of action that day. Thankfully KOBRA was running today, and naturally I was eager to ride it next. I joined the queue, and had to wait a few runs to get on it. Unlike a Zamperla Disk'O (such as Disk'O at Brean Theme Park), this has a hump in the middle. You sit facing outwards at the edge of the disk, which spins as it travels towards the high end (station end), back near the hump, and towards the high end (station end). After a few goes, it finally crosses the hump to reach the other high end, back and forth a few times. Basically, the ride experience was just the same as Edge at Paultons Park (which I last rode during the RCCGB Summer Bash 2016 in July 2016). The only cosmetic difference is that, being a snake themed ride, KOBRA has a snake's head at each end. Altogether this was really exciting, but once was enough for me; no way could I have taken two goes straight off.

Monkey Swinger
A Wave Swinger with the gimmick of a sprinkler, so if you're sitting on an outer seat you may get wet. Just like any other Wave Swinger, the central unit rose up and tilted as it spun around. However this had the extra feature of a sprinkler, which squirted water during the ride. Personally I think that's an unnecessary gimmick really; the motion experienced by riders would be just the same without the sprinkler. Another fun ride, but once was enough for me.

Next I wanted to ride Vampire, and had to meander around the Park quite some way to find it.

This Arrow Dynamics Suspended Coaster has been operating at Chessington World of Adventures since April 1990 (however it was closed during the 2001 season, and reopened in 2002 with some track changes and new floorless Vekoma trains). Riders enter a dark grotto to board the train. Each pair of seats hangs from the overhead track. Being as I had already ridden Vampire during the RCCGB Summer Bash in June 2010, I knew what to expect. The train set off out of the dark building, up the first lift hill, down, up a second lift hill, down, and back to the building. Along the way each pair of seats swung from side to side; this time I noticed the greatest swings happened towards the end of the ride. To me this felt like a relaxing rest ride; I think Vampire is too harsh a name for it as that implies a boisterous ride. Swallow (as in the bird) or even Butterfly would be a much more appropriate name. For now I limited myself to just one go on Vampire.

Feeling peckish, I decided to get some lunch next. Since I was intending to get a cooked meal early evening, all I wanted for now was a sandwich, filled roll or similar, so I decided to go to Original Sandwich Co. in Land of the Dragons. After a spot of difficulty finding it, I eventually got there. When I got there I chose BLT sandwiches and regular Americano. Just before I began consuming my lunch, I pinned one of my Birthday Boy rosettes to my T-shirt (and kept it on the rest of the day) and put my birthday card on the table.

After Lunch
Knowing it would be unwise to return to riding too soon after lunch, I began my afternoon by visiting some of the other attractions.

Children's Zoo
I headed for what I thought was the zoo. The animals I saw included Kunekune Pigs and African Pygmy Goats. That wasn't what I was expecting to see, but I've since discovered this was a part of the zoo known as the Children's Zoo.

AMAZU Treetop Adventure
This is a network of bridges high above the ground in the AMAZU area of the zoo. I unexpectedly discovered this as I walked around the zoo area. Having found out from a member of staff that adults are allowed on this, I went on it. I had great fun walking across all the bridges, some more than once. My only inconvenience was having to keep my rucksack on my back the whole time I was on this adventure trail. There is also one metal slide, so I went down the slide once. Obviously I had to put my rucksack on my belly whilst sliding down on my back. Altogether this was a fun outdoor play area.

Penguin Bay
Another part of the zoo is Penguin Bay (Bahía Pingüino), the main feature of this is the pool of water with its own beach area for the penguins. At the time I walked past the pool, a group of penguins was in the beach area the opposite side of the pool to which I saw it.

I must admit, I was a bit disappointed with the zoo as I was expecting to see large wild animals such as lions, tigers, gorillas, giraffes and zebras. Looking at the printed map since my visit I've discovered these are located in parts of the Park I somehow managed to miss.

Afternoon Riding
Having left Penguin Bay, I felt ready to return to riding.

Boats on spokes which go around in a circle. Each boat has a name and number. This was my first ride after lunch. I joined the queue and had to wait a fair few runs (I didn't count how many) before it was my turn to get on. When I eventually got on, I sat in boat number 12 (Thunder). A fun ride, but due to the waiting time I limited myself to just one go, and didn't return to it later.

Black Buccaneer
This is a large swinging pirate ship. Its queue was rather long, and therefore I had to wait quite some time before it was my turn to get on it. Due to its location riders have to go down into a cutting to access it. Once on board the swinging action back and forth gave a really exciting ride. Altogether this was another fun ride, but due to its long queuing time, I limited myself to just one go. In any case I don't think I could take two goes straight off on a swinging pirate ship due to the motion involved.

The Park's mouse coaster, and the third coaster I rode that day. This Maurer Rides Wild Maus Classic (Left) has been operating at Chessington World of Adventures since 1998. I think the minimum 1.4 metre height for it is a bit high, wouldn't 1.2 metres be enough? Riding the coaster itself was just the same as any other steel mouse coaster I've ridden. My one go on Rattlesnake now was my only go on it all day.

Rameses Revenge
This is like Ripsaw at Alton Towers. There are two stages to this ride. During the first stage the gondola flips over and you are lowered right into the fountains, so you will get wet, (for that reason I put my cagoule on before getting on the ride, and took it off after leaving). Stage two is more boisterous; if I remember rightly the gondola flipped over more in the high position this time than on stage one. Altogether this was a fun and exciting ride, but my one go on Rameses Revenge now was my only go on it all day.

Afternoon Coffee
Having left Rameses Revenge I felt like a cup of coffee, so I went to Coffee Hut for a regular latte. The time was 15:36 when I got there. Once I had finished my coffee I was eager to return to riding.

Scorpion Express
So far I had ridden three of the Park's four roller coasters at least once each, so the only coaster I had yet to ride was Scorpion Express. This Mack Rides Blauer Enzian originally operated at Chessington World of Adventures as Runaway Train from 1987 to 2012, and was SBNO during 2013. Since 14 March 2014 it's been operating as Scorpion Express with gold mine theming; however the track layout remains unchanged. Unlike the Park's other three coasters, this is a powered coaster. Although I previously rode this as Runaway Train during the RCCGB Summer Bash in June 2010, this was my first time of riding it as Scorpion Express. I joined the queue, but despite its short appearance at first sight, the actual time I had to wait for my turn to get on was longer than I expected. One ride consisted of multiple laps, however I didn't count how many. On each lap the train climbed the lift hill and worked its way around the track. Each lap included a flame effect towards early on and a sprinkler effect as it entered the station. Despite the flame and sprinkler effects, this family steelie isn't particularly thrilling. Although it was worth riding once just to say I'd been on it this visit, my one go on this now was my only go on it all day.

The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure
An indoor dark water ride, which claims to be new for 2017. Actually the building originally housed Bubbleworks, which operated from 1990 to 2016. After Bubbleworks closed in September 2016, the building was re-themed around The Gruffalo, and opened as The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure on 18 March 2017. I approached this ride close to closing time, and thankfully the queue was quite short. On the way in riders pose in front of a green screen to have their picture taken, before proceeding to the loading platform. Riders get into circular tubs to travel around a canal (whether they are the same tubs and waterway from Bubbleworks days, or all new for 2017 is unclear). I thought I'd be required to share a tub with the family in front of me, but the attendant allowed me to occupy a separate empty tub alone. The tub sailed around the winding canal, passing scenes from The Gruffalo story along the way. One notable feature along the route was the fountain, where riders may get wet. Fortunately I put my cagoule on prior to going on the ride, to prevent me getting wet. Eventually the boat returned to the station and I disembarked. However I didn't buy the photo that was taken of me on entry. A fun ride, but I only had time for one go.

There were now just a few minutes remaining before the rides were due to close at 17:00, so I raced to nearby Vampire. Thankfully its queue entrance was still open, so I immediately proceeded to the back of its queue. This time the queue tailed back considerably further than it did when I rode Vampire late morning, and hence I took a lot longer to reach the entry platform this time around. Eventually I was one of a batch of riders whose turn it was to get on the train. The ride experience was just the same as when I rode Vampire late morning; once again the greatest swings were towards the end of the ride. I said to the person sitting next to me that this somewhat gentle ride ought to be called Swallow (as in the bird) or Butterfly; that person said people would probably be less likely to want to ride Vampire if it was called Swallow or Butterfly. Obviously I was only able to have one go now, which was also my final ride of the day. A fun ride to end my birthday outing to Chessington World of Adventures, definitely well worth the wait.

The time was 17:32 when I finally left Vampire. The Park was now closed, and it was time for everyone to leave. After having a few more pictures taken of me near Adventure Point Pizza Pasta, I headed for Lodge Gate.

Summary of my day at CWOA in order of activity

Dragon's Fury 3
Monkey Swinger 1
Vampire 1

Lunch at Original Sandwich Co. in Land of the Dragons
AMAZU Treetop Adventure

Seastorm 1
Black Buccaneer 1
Rattlesnake 1
Rameses Revenge 1

Regular latte at Coffee Hut

Scorpion Express 1
The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure 1
Vampire 1

Cumulative Summary of Rides

Black Buccaneer
Dragon's Fury
Monkey Swinger
Rameses Revenge
Scorpion Express
The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure

Birthday Dinner
My birthday fun continued into the evening. Having exited the Park via Lodge Gate around 17:40, I saw a bus standing nearby. That bus was about to go to the centre of Chessington, therefore I got on. Having left the bus at Church Rise bus stop just before 18:00, I went to The Chessington Oak for a celebratory dinner. Once seated, I placed my birthday card on the table and took my time deciding what to eat.

Eventually I chose surf and turf for main course. As well as scampi (surf) and steak (turf), this included a bowl of chips, a grilled mushroom and some side salad. The whole lot was really delicious. Of course, my birthday meal wouldn't have been complete without a dessert. For dessert I ordered salted caramel profiteroles, served with vanilla ice cream, fluffy cream, Belgian chocolate and Devon toffee sauces. They tasted out of this world, the perfect way to round off my birthday meal. In addition, I had a pint of Carling to accompany my meal. Altogether a delicious two-course meal to round off my birthday outing. It's a pity the staff didn't sing "Happy birthday" to me when they brought my main course or dessert, but you can't win them all, I suppose.

Summary of my meal
Main course: Surf and turf (scampi and steak, served with a bowl of chips, a grilled mushroom and some side salad)
Dessert: Salted caramel profiteroles (served with vanilla ice cream, fluffy cream, Belgian chocolate and Devon toffee sauces)
Drink: Pint of Carling

Journey Home
Having left The Chessington Oak, it was time for me to begin my journey home. The nearest station was Chessington North, which was just a short walk away. Having arrived there at 19:31, I caught the 19:44 South Western Railway train to Wimbledon. Surprisingly, when I got there, the 20:05 South Western Railway train to London Waterloo was already on the adjacent platform, and I managed to get on it before it departed Wimbledon. I didn't expect to get a connecting train to London Waterloo as quickly as that at Wimbledon. Anyway, having reached London Waterloo at 20:28, I went straight down to the Bakerloo line, and caught the next available Underground train to Paddington. Having arrived at Paddington at 20:48 there was still ample time for me to enjoy a coffee at Starbucks there (I put my birthday card on the table whilst drinking my coffee) before I caught the 21:30 GWR train to Bath Spa. I finally reached Bath Spa at 22:59 and home a few minutes later.


Riding all four coasters again, including Runaway Train under its new guise Scorpion Express.
Adding KOBRA to my ride count and riding several other non-coaster rides again.
Walking across the AMAZU Treetop Adventure bridges shortly after lunch.
Weather generally reasonable; dry all day with the added bonus of sunshine all morning, and quite warm for the time of year.
Celebratory dinner at The Chessington Oak early evening.

Ride count lower than I'd have ideally liked.
Not seeing the wild animals I expected to see whilst exploring the zoo after lunch.

Summing Up
Altogether a grand day out to mark my 46th birthday. It was great to visit Chessington World of Adventures for the first time since the RCCGB Summer Bash in June 2010. Whilst there it was really satisfying to ride the roller coasters Dragon's Fury, Vampire, Rattlesnake and Runaway Train (under its new guise Scorpion Express) again having first ridden them during the RCCGB Summer Bash in June 2010. Just one point about the Park's four coasters Dragon's Fury, Vampire, Rattlesnake and Scorpion Express, they're all steel. Come on Chessitina, get some wood! It was also great to be able to ride KOBRA for the first time ever, having not been able to ride it on the day of the RCCGB Summer Bash in June 2010. My overall ride count was lower than I would ideally have liked (just 13 rides). This was largely due to the queue lengths, particularly during the afternoon, but nonetheless the rides I did go on were all great fun. It's a pity the morning sunshine didn't last all afternoon, but thankfully it remained dry all afternoon. Nonetheless I felt warm enough going around in just my self-designed 46th birthday T-shirt during the cloudy afternoon as well as the sunny morning whilst on Park. Several people liked my 46th birthday T-shirt, though some were mystified by the front, until they saw the back. Wearing that throughout the day added to the fun of celebrating my birthday. The celebratory evening dinner at The Chessington Oak was the grand finale to this special day.

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