This April, my little man hit another milestone, turning age 2. I can’t truly express what a joyous moment it is for us as parents to see him growing into his own person. Last year, I went all out with planning a rainbow themed birthday bash for him. This year, we decided to keep it more low-key, whilst still doing something fun we would all enjoy. Originally, we played around with the idea of possibly going to Disneyland Paris. The travel time needed and cost seemed a bit much, considering that one or two days would have been sufficient for us. Then we remembered that Chessington Adventures just opened their Gruffalo attractions at the beginning of this year. Savya is seriously obsessed with the Gruffalo! After checking hotel availability and cost, we agreed it was a perfect fit and booked for a midweek one-night stay in one of the brand new Gruffalo rooms.
BOOKING: We purchased the Gruffalo package, which included a fantastically Gruffalo themed room with a separate children’s sleeping area (can sleep 3 kids), breakfast the next morning, parking, VIP splash pool access, and VIP fastrack for all the rides. Fairly easy online, but any changes or cancellations must be done on the phone, and they charge you for it. They also charge you for booking with a credit card, which just seems stingy for a company of their size. The website is a little glitchy, so that can peeve you about. But other than that,, it was fine.
CHECK-IN: When we pulled up to the hotel and parked in a Gruffalo parking space, which was easily found. We checked-in and upon walking into the room, the look on Savya’s face filled with awe and wonder made the trip worth it. He couldn’t stop smiling and exploring the room! The wall decorations, carpeting, and children’s sleeping area was nothing short of magical to him. He absolutely loved it. After dropping off our bags and changing into our swimming suits, we made our way to the splash pool, which we had reserved a week in advance. While very fun, it’s definitely a hazard for little wriggly kiddos. I’d say be on the alert, and if definitely book one week ahead of time. Also, be aware that there are no photos allowed in the splash pool (I got told off, lol). By the way, they have the coolest elevators, which are themed like a hot air balloon. Savya went nuts every time we rode it.
FOOD: After our fun swimming time, we went upstairs to get clean (DUDE there’s a TV in the bathtub!) and headed down to the on-site restaurant for dinner. There was a mix of people on business clustered around the bar and families at the restaurant. The food wasn’t great but it wasn’t half bad. The staff, whilst very courteous, were sparce. Perhaps because it a Wednesday, there wasn’t much staff? Either way, it was noticeably troublesome to find a server to flag down when we needed something. Hubby and I shared an order of a burger and ribs. I must say however, thatthe kiddie fish fingers still had the fish skin on them, which wasn’t brilliant. Wouldn’t recommend that dish to any kid, or adult for that matter. I’d give the restaurant 3.5/5 stars, in total. But they have an amazing extractor fan that I want for my own kitchen.
Breakfast was a standard fare I suppose, but they could’ve supplied guests with better quality foods. I’ve experienced better breakfasts at lesser starred hotels. The meat smelled very funky and the eggs were obviously from powdered mix, so we ended up picking at it. They had cereals, fresh fruit, breads, and when mini croissants and pain au chocolates, and a coffee maker, so we were satisfied well enough until lunch time.
ROOM DETAILS: Our room was at the top level, room 345. Entry is provided with issuance of a standard key card. Once you walk inside, there are a number of switches for the room lights and other miscellaneous fun things. For example, there is a button that enables the door, whenever opened, to say quotes from the book. There is a lock on the top of the door which prevents little children from opening and running out the door (phew!).
Lots of space for storage, kettle with coffee, tea, and biscuits available, 3 televisions total (one for mum and dad, one for the kids, and one in the bathtub), and even complimentary Gruffalo robes for the kids to wear while they are there! If you take them, the hotel simply charges you 20 per robe, or you can opt to buy a brand new one at the gift store next to the Gruffalo ride. Savya wore his to the pool and had a blast in it.
The queen bed features a huge gruffalo overhead with plastic ivy leaves coming out of the wall for 3D effect. The room has a colourfully themed wallpaper and carpeting throughout, including in the loo. In the loo, I had a snake overlooking me do business and an owl watching me shower. Kids will have a blast, and adults will have a chuckle. The children’s sleeping area has a bunk bed with trundle underneath, a hidden trap door with Gruffalo books for reading, a television with the Gruffalo films readily available to watch, a fun interactive maze game on the wall, and a small reading nook with a life-sized mouse statue. The view from the window showed off the green pastures with antelopes walking about. Temperature of the room was easily adjustable, and the bed was very comfortable. We all slept soundly throughout the night, especially the littlest one. There were almost no hazards in the room, which made traveling with a toddler even more relaxing.
MEET AND GREET: Chessington Adventures features a Gruffalo Meet-and-Greet in a small outdoor ampitheatre with the Gruffalo character at 3 different times throughout the day. We opted for the earliest time and took a photo with the Gruffalo. He was so excited and shocked he didn’t know what to do at first. He didn’t want to take the photo alone, so we posed together. Then before leaving, he hugged the Gruffalo and we went to eat a bit of lunch we had purchased at the cafe next to the ampitheatre. Luckily the photo turned out well, so we purchased a copy. Upon purchasing the photo, you receive a receipt featuring a code that allows you to also to nab the digital copy at no extra charge. Chessington also has an package option to purchase digital copies of all photos taken at the park, which isn’t bad if they turn out well.
GRUFFALO RIDE: As you coast through the water ride, it tells the story of the mouse outwitting the fox, owl, snake, and Gruffalo to simply enjoy his yummy nut. There was themed music from the animated production, projections over fog, 3D effects, water fountains to ride underneath, and more. We did get a little wet, but it wasn’t to the extent that we were uncomfortable. Savya thought it was brilliant, and it truly was, if I am being honest. The amount of thought and effort put into creating this ride was spectacular. The effects were amazing, well thought out, and the children and parents alike both enjoyed it.
The only thing I’d say they should work on would be the photography, as our photos made us look quite orange and were unflattering, so we decided not to purchase them. Be aware that the ride exits through the Gruffalo gift shop. We bought a life-sized Gruffalo, Gruffalo shirt, and sweatshirt for little man. Definitely a small fortune, but worth it for his birthday.
WORTH: Absolutely worth it for the little ones who love this tale. Chessington Adventures has many fun rides for little ones over 0.9 metres tall. Savya is very tall for his age (currently at 97cm) so we had much opportunity to check out many of the appropriate rides. Daddy also enjoyed quite a few of them by himself, which I didn’t mind one bit. Once your children are over 1M tall, even more of the rides show up. I found my butt squeezing to fit into some of the kiddie rides though, so if anything, it was an encouragement to get healthier.
I hope this post helps anyone trying to figure out their next family holiday. Cheers!