Chessington World of Adventures

Chessington, Surrey, United Kingdom

Formerly Chessington Zoo, Chessington World of Adventures opened in 1987 as the UK's first theme park, with lands themed to various countries and cultures from around the world.

Opened28 July 1931 (as Chessington Zoo)
July 1987 (as Chessington World of Adventures)
SeasonMarch to early November
OwnerMerlin Entertainments
Attendance510,000 (TEA 2020)
NearbyThorpe Park (9 miles)
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland (13 miles)
Legoland Windsor (16 miles)
Brighton Palace Pier (38 miles)
Adventure Island (46 miles)
Giant Buddha

Chessington's Giant Buddha has been watching over the theme park since 1987

Chessington World of Adventures opened in 1987 as the UK's first real theme park, with each ride having a backstory and set within distinct themed areas representing various countries from around the world.

However, the site's history goes back much further than that - a mansion built in 1348 became a loyalist stronghold in the English Civil War before it was raised to the ground by Cromwell's forces. The mansion, now known as The Burnt Stub, was rebuilt and used as an inn until the 18th century. Then in 1931, Chessington Zoo, the attraction which morphed into today's theme park, opened on the site.

Today, Chessington World of Adventures provides attractions and animal experiences targeted at young families. There are four rollercoasters, chief among them being Vampire, a swinging coaster originally built by Arrow and designed by the famed John Wardley, who also came up with much of the original concept and master plan for the park. Other highlights include Tiger Rock, a log flume past real life tigers; Dragon's Fury, a spinning rollercoaster (Chessington like their dragons); and Tomb Blaster, an interactive dark ride through an Egyptian tomb.

Sealion Bay

Sealions playing in Sealion Bay

Professor Burp's Bubbleworks was one of Chessington's most famous dark rides. Originally a boat ride through a fizzy pop factory, it was later rethemed under a sponsorship deal with Imperial Leather to become a tour through a duck infested soap factory. In 2016, the Bubbleworks took its last riders, and reopened in 2017 rethemed as the Gruffalo River Adventure. While nothing can match the creativity of the original 1990 version of the Bubbleworks, the Gruffalo gives a nicely themed reboot to what was becoming a tired, worn out, but classic ride in need of some TLC. The success of The Gruffalo was followed up in 2019 with Room on the Broom: A Magical Journey, a walkthrough past several key scenes from the book.

The park's animal collection is huge and spread across several themed areas. Lions, tigers and gorillas are among the beasts on view in Trail of the Kings; kids can get up close to their favourite farmland friends in the Children's Zoo area; and a large variety of fish are on display in Chessington's own Sealife Centre. Those in search of adventure can board a Zufari truck for a safari around the African plains in search of giraffes, zebras and rhinos.

In recent years, Chessington has expanded into a multi-day destination with the addition of two on-site animal themed hotels and most recently a summer Glamping option, allowing guests to spend the night in a tent in the heart of the park itself.


Chessington Zoo

Chessington Zoo

Encounter over 1000 animals living in the Trail of the Kings, Sealion Bay, and the Wanyama Village and Reserve

Lorikeet Lagoon

Lorikeet Lagoon

Take a pot of nectar with you to feed the friendly lorikeets in this walk through aviary


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