Attraction Review - The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure

The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure finally opened at Chessington World of Adventures today after a lengthy refurb over the closed season. The ride, based on the beloved children's book by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, replaced the iconic Bubbleworks ride that we sadly said farewell to towards the end of last season.

Living just ten minutes away from Chessington we thought we'd pop by and get a glimpse of the Gruffalo for ourselves! I absolutely adore dark rides and have been following this much-needed retheme quite closely after the past few months. I'm not ashamed to say I was really excited to finally join the queue and finally ride it this morning! Here's a look at the newly updated water dark ride. Spoilers ahead, obviously.

I was intrigued to see how they would extend the queue for what is undeniably going to be an incredibly popular attraction. Cleverly, today the queue had been extended up and back into the picnic area where the Creaky Cafe once stood, although only with temporary fences for now so I wonder if they're still working on a more permanent queue extension as at the moment the full queue only takes about 25 mins to whizz through.

We made a beeline for the Wild Woods, formerly Transylvania, and joined the queue of excited families. It wasn't long before we were in the now unrecognisable station building! The beautiful piano melody plays out enticingly and the entire area is covered with leaves and stencilled lighting to create the effect that we're now deep within the Wild Woods themselves and on the lookout for a Gruffalo! Which brings me to my first gripe. I thought the whole ride was about 'there's not such thing as a Gruffalo' and the boat ride was one of discovery, but there right in the station itself stands a huge Gruffalo cut out? I don't get it...

A la the various Winnie The Pooh dark rides at the Disney parks, the ride takes us literally into the pages of the book alongside our trusty protagonist Mouse as he takes on a seemingly terrifying band of beasts. Like those videos you search for on YouTube if you're feeling particularly morbid: Mouse vs. Snake, Mouse vs. Fox and Mouse vs. Owl. It's actually kind of terrifying, and the lighting and smoke effects do a really good job at portraying the danger! It actually reminded me a lot of the Secret of NIMH, for anybody who has seen it and gets that reference.

The first main room is gorgeous, a theme that continues throughout but is particularly breathtaking here. A room of sparkling dandelions sets us off on our journey and made me do an 'audible gasp' as we floated into it. The quality is high throughout - a great blend of AV effects, LOADS of smell canisters and a gorgeous score really compliment each other well to bring the story of the Gruffalo to life!

The final room was one I was both excited and nervous to experience. For me it was iconic and synonymous with Bubbleworks and I wondered how Merlin Magic Making would be able to make it Gruffalo enough without completely ripping everything out. Turns out it works perfectly, and whilst I do miss the angelic harp music that accompanied the finale in the Bubbleworks days I thought this version was gorgeous and fun in itself. And it smells INSANE! Like delicious cakes. I'm guessing it's meant to be Gruffalo Crumble smell? I have no idea what a Gruffalo Crumble is as I've never read the books but it was definitely a recurring theme in both the ride and the Gruffalo Bites unit where you can purchase Gruffalo themed treats!

We also had a nose around the gift shop. If you've stepped foot onto the high-street recently you'll be no stranger to Gruffalo merch. It's literally everywhere, and I was a little worried that we'd just see these same products for sale here at the park. Luckily, there's a good mix of general Gruffalo stuff and then specific Gruffalo River Ride Adventure merch too, all of which is very high quality! I was tempted and I have no connection with this IP at all, so suffice to say I think it'll shift well.

After this I was gagging for a sneaky peek at the Adventure Tree. I've expressed my adoration for this thing on social media recently. It's even more stunning in real life! Much larger that the picture let on, it's totally disability accessible, it doubles as a fab water features AND you can ride on the back of a capybara. What's not to love?

We spent the rest of the day having a mooch, decided to bail on the rides with longer queues because it's not like we haven't done them all a million times, gawped at some cute fluffies and called it a day.

So yes, overall, I adored The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure! The perfect update to a, let's face it, tired old ride. I'm so glad it's been given a new lease of life and rejuvenated to bring joy to a brand new generation. Anybody riding this weekend will notice that the ride is not *quite* finished, but I've been told that the MMM team are dying to get back in there and add the finishing touches as soon as possible!

Talk later xoxo,