I’VE been to Alton Towers a few times, Legoland Windsor twice and Disneyworld Paris (in the snow) with my two youngest boys, so how would Chessington World Of Adventures in Surrey compare?
The answer ... right up there with the best of them.
When the opportunity cropped up to visit the theme park and zoo and stay in the excellent-looking Holiday Inn in Guildford for a couple of nights, I jumped at the chance.
It’s a long drive, admittedly, from Wigan, but an early enough dart and a mid-point stop off at a service station made the journey bearable.
A deal, through Holiday Extras, offers you accommodation at one of a number of Holiday Inns and a choice of Chessington, Thorpe Park or Legoland Windsor tickets.
We opted for Chessington because we’d ‘done’ Legoland and reviews on the web suggested it was slightly more geared towards youngsters than Thorpe Park and split into different fun zones.
Arriving at our destination, thanks to my Waze navigation app (we’d have ended up in Addis Ababa if I’d tried to use a map) we were greeted by smiling staff and a beautiful, welcoming reception area. Good start.
After unpacking in our spacious family room, which had a double bed and double pull-out bed, 40inch tv, bath and shower, we headed for the health suite and all had a swim and jacuzzi and a brief laze in the steam room to unwind before heading for dinner in the hotel restaurant.
All of our meals were delicious, my steak cooked to perfection and the boys’ chicken nuggets and chips polished off in no time.
The menu wouldn’t have looked out of place in any top quality (much more expensive) high street restaurant - the food really was that good.
And so to bed, ready for an early start in readiness for our adventures at Chessington.
One sound sleep and sumptuous full-English breakfast later and we were ready for the off.
All three theme parks are within 30 miles of the Holiday Inn, Guildford – Chessington the closest by a few miles – and we were there in about half an hour.
The weather was decent and the boys were as giddy as kippers as we pulled into the car park ready for fun.
As well as a cracking zoo – and a new attraction, Zufari; a bus tour which allows you to get up close and personal with some of the animals, Chessington boasts a Sea Life Centre and, of course, a raft of rollercoasters, rides and fairground-type stalls.
What better way to start the day than with the scariest-looking ride on offer – Kobra – an awesome-looking giant snake that spins its riders through the air on a 90m track at a dizzying 43mph.
My littlest lad, six, loved it, my medium lad, 10, loved it - and us grown ups loved it (honest!) What made the day really great was the fact that the queues weren’t huge. Our maximum wait for a ride was about 20 minutes, which was a real bonus – especially for the little ones.
Split into a dozen areas, including Land of the Dragons, Pirate’s Cove and Transylvania – home to the terrifying-looking Vampire rollercoaster – Chessington World Of Adventures really is good.
It’s clean and smoke free and there are more than 30 rides for explorers of all ages.
With shows on throughout the day in the Madagascar Live area and dozens of stalls and games, plus the Sea Life Centre and zoo, there really is loads to do. We spent a full day there, but could have really done with two, such was the volume and variety of things to see and do.
Prices aren’t extortionate either – at some places you need to take a loan out just to visit the gift shop!
All in all our weekend break was great. The Holiday Inn, Guildford, is the perfect place to stay if you’re thinking of taking in one of the parks nearby – and I would thoroughly recommend Chessington World Of Adventures.
Visit Holiday Inn Guildford for details of breaks.
You can also telephone Holiday Extras on 0800 9555 980.