With the slow easing of Covid restrictions around the UK, this year many theme parks have been planning for more "normal" Halloween events following the massive changes they had to make last year to cope with social distancing and household bubbles.
Chessington is once again hosting Howl'o'ween from 16th to 31st October, with the return of some past attractions plus a new show and roaming actors.
Since this was my first visit of the year to the park, it was also an opportunity to try out 2021's new Croc Drop and the Blue Barnacle pirate ship which has replaced the aging Black Buccaneer.
The Chessington adventure starts here
Turn green for Halloween
We started the day with a ride on the new drop tower
Croc Drop is nicely themed and a great family thrill ride
Chessington Zoo first opened in 1931 and is celebrating its 90th birthday - several information signs have been placed around the park to highlight the zoo's history
Time for coffee and a halloween themed doughnut
Wild Woods pumpkins
It was originally due to open in 2020, but that was delayed until this year due to the Coronavirus pandemic
... well, after a bit of a wait anyway!
Bracing for the brakes
There were still some Covid-19 related safety features to be seen around the park, although this traffic light system was not in use
We had lunch at the Smokehouse BBQ & Bar
A gentle float through the forest to let all the beef brisket go down
I thought there was no such thing as a Gruffalo!
First Halloween attraction of the day, down past Vampire
More Vile Villagers ... oh no, wait, it's just Margaret and Katie
Our timed entry slot had arrived, and we headed down towards the scariest of Chessington's Howl'o'ween attractions, Creepy Caves Resurgence
The maze has been given a new storyline and a new route (pretty much the reverse of the old one) since we last experienced it two years ago.
Sadly a lot of the actor-led set-piece story elements have been lost, and it has turned into a much more standard scare maze which failed to deliver quite the same level of brilliance as the award winning original.
These look like some Wild Witches!
Chessington has gone all-out on actors around the park this year - here's one of the Ferocious Pharoahs
We're on the trail of some royalty
Unfortunately the Kings (and Queens) did not feel like having an audience today
When there's something strange in your neighbourhood, who you gonna call? The, erm, Curse Catchers (for licencing reasons).
Katie got accosted by a man who wanted to buy her shoes ... she seemed very willing to do a trade for 10 gold coins!
The Croc Drop queue was down to 15 minutes, so we took another ride
Some Barbaric Bandits tried to get our attention, but Margaret was in a hurry to catch a train
Back down to the Wild Woods
Splashing out on a Fastrack for a final end-of-season ride on Vampire has become something of a tradition
Vampire was flying, although a little more jolty than it has been
It was almost 7pm closing time, but we had time for a walk through The Forgotten Forest.
It was beautifully lit, but not quite the same without all the live actors and characters of Trick or Treat Wood.
All that remained was for us to say our goodbyes, find our cars in the fields, and leave Chessington down the hideously pothole-ridden exit road.
Come on Chessington ... I paid £4 for the privilege of leaving my car in the mud, so the least you could do is use some of that cash to fix the craters!
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