The resort includes a zoo, theme park and sea life centre, as well plenty of rides and attractions to entertain under 5’s, so we snapped up the chance to go.
Luckily, the weather gods were smiling down on us on the day so we did not have to worry about our day being cut short due to rain, or from a little boy who does not much like to get wet.
After checking in and being given our passes into the resort, we were introduced to two giant African land snails. Usually, Zachy is quick to collect up as many ordinary garden snails as he can manage and chase me around the kitchen with them, but he seemed hesitant to get too close to this fella. Not surprising as it was almost the size of his head!
Next up on the agenda was a tour of the sea life centre.
Now, this was amazing. When we took Zachy to the big aquarium in Crete last summer, he was moderately interested in the sharks but all he really wanted to do was run amok in the caves until it was time for ice-cream.
A year on and he was totally fascinated by all of the different fish in the tanks. We saw starfish, piranhas, clown fish, puffer fish and sea horses. As we walked through a glass-topped tunnel, actual sharks swam above us.
We answered lots of questions about what the fish had for breakfast, where they slept, and why they did not have arms & legs. His absolute favourites were the rays. He could not take his eyes off them as they shuffled along the ‘sea’ floor but would hide behind me as soon as they swam up to the glass with their little faces beaming right at us.
We were free to roam the park at our leisure following the tour, so made our way over to the Wanyama Village & Reserve, where a little part of Africa meets Surrey.
It was amazing to be able to see these animals in the flesh. I do not think a child really gets any idea of just how tall a giraffe is until he sees one right in front of him.
Before we knew it, it was time for lunch. Chessington very kindly provided lunch for us in the hotel so we did not sample any of the food establishments on site, but looking around I do think I might have struggled to find something gluten-free here.
There seemed to be lots of pizza, pasta, burgers, sandwiches and fried chicken options on offer, so if this is not what you are after then it is probably wise to pack a picnic. There are plenty of grassed areas to roll out your blanket and tuck in.
After lunch, we made our way to a special meet & greet with Captain Barnacles and Kawazii from The Octonauts. This was the part of the day that in the run-up, Zachy had been most looking forward to. However, when we finally reached the front of the queue and it was his turn to say hello, he came over all shy and insisted I pick him up and pose alongside him in the photos. Oh, the things we do…
I was keen to visit the gorillas next. I have been captivated by these beautiful primates since my days working at Taronga Zoo in Sydney in 2001. I had a temp job there in the marketing dept for a few months, and one of my responsibilities was to re-stock the animal adoption leaflets at various points around the grounds.
Every day, I would stop by the gorilla enclosure and watch them for a few moments, completely mesmerised by their every movement. The silverback would stare back at me moodily, but I LOVED him.
It is no coincidence that I went on to marry a man I call the Greek God(zilla)…
Anyway, back to Chessington where the Western Lowland gorillas are situated in the Trail of the Kings section.
Isn’t she magnificent!
And while she is tending to her babies, here is the male taking a nap in the afternoon sun.
We wandered over to the big cats next, just as they were being fed.
It was quite hard to get a good look at these popular animals, but if you are happy to wait around for a bit you will get quite close up to them.
We were a bit early for the sealion show, but that did not stop these guys from playing up to the audience anyway. They dived in and out of the water in perfect rhythmn with each other, splashing and frolicking in the waves.
Sensing a crowd gathering, this not so little exhibitionist climbed out of the water and stretched, preened and paraded to us in all his glory.
We got a better view of the sealions from the Safari Skyway, which was the only ride we made it on to. The short monorail journey gives you a birds eye view of the entire park and was a good opportunity to rest our legs. The queue to get on it was a little off putting, but it did move fairly quickly and was a great experience.
The heat and the walking were starting to get a bit too much for Zachy and he started insisting on one of us carrying him around for the rest of the afternoon. It is times like this when I really do miss the buggy.
The Greek God(zilla) lifted him up onto his shoulders, which he seemed to enjoy for a while, but it really was such a long day already and being just a few weeks shy of 4-years old, he still does get that mid-afternoon slump so we wrapped things up for this visit.
With still so much more to see though, we will be sure to be back again soon!
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