Inside Chessington World of Adventures chaos with 1km queues and broken down rides

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Huge queues with no social distancing, broken down rides and few people wearing masks saw chaos abound at Chessington World of Adventures yesterday.

Exasperated families were forced to leave heaving queues of crying children that one mum estimated stretched a kilometre long.

Despite having been told to book online, visitors were urged by members of staff to come again another day after they'd been waiting for over an hour.

Guests battled through two and a half hour long queues in stifling heat to get on a handful of rides before they shut down for the day at 5pm.

One mum had to sit on a children's ride with her son for 20 minutes until a park attendant arrived and pushed their cart the short distance back into the coaster station.

It took hours for the queues to die down
(Image: Liz Bayley WS)

Another visitor endured a lengthy queue to get onboard a ride, only for it to break down when he got to the front.

Valentina Parrinello has vowed never to return to the park after taking her son, four, and family for an overnight stay.

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"It is really badly organised," the Orpington woman told The Mirror.

"I don't now if it's Covid or what it is, but the queues were an hour plus for each ride, which is a long time for little kids to wait. The queues were ridiculous.

Some people reported waiting over two hours to get in
(Image: Surrey Live/BPM MEDIA)

"We did four rides. One ride, a small one for kids, was broken. It took 20 minutes for an engineer to push it for us to step out.

"They gave us free ice cream tokens, but the majority of the kiosks were closed."

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Fellow park guest Richard Edwards also reported a similar problem.

"I queued one and a half hours to get in, then queued for a ride. I get to the front and it breaks down," he said.

Since Chessington reopened it has had a number of measures in place to tackle the spread of the coronavirus.

Claire Francis and her daughter managed two rides
(Image: Claire Francis)

These include a mask mandate on rides, which are also socially distanced, meaning queue times can be bumped up significantly due to their lower capacity.

Claire Francis and her daughter managed to get on two rides during the whole of their trip yesterday.

"They weren't enforcing masks on the rides," the carer told the Mirror.

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"There were a lot of children over 11 that didn't have masks on. Some of the visitors were to blame for that, claiming they were vaccinated, but their kids clearly weren't.

"My daughter and myself had our masks on, including on the rides, but they come off (in the wind) anyway."

Staff advised some people to go home
(Image: @Lozle89 /Twitter)

Valentina Parrinello, here with her family, has vowed never to return to the park
(Image: Valentina Parrinello)

Claire, from Surrey, felt as if the ride rules were a little pointless, given the huge scrum of people pushed together to get into the park.

"It was a massive queue that went up, back on itself, and back again, and was mirrored on the opposite side," she continued.

"A member of staff said they weren't aware of who would turn up, but that's not true because you have to pre-book.

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"There was no social distancing. One member of staff was getting it in the neck from everyone, I felt so sorry for him, he was being bombarded. He's just a 22-year-old parking attendant.

"There were two girls on the temperature check gun things. They were aiming them at people's heads really quickly and then moving on.

There were only two people doing temperature checks, according to visitors
(Image: Surrey Live/BPM MEDIA)

"I didn't feel it was at all safe."

Valentina reported similar concerns about the lines into the park.

She said: "It was two hours squashed together, lots of people not wearing masks. Maybe 20 per cent of people were wearing them.

"There is nobody enforcing the signs, nobody is saying wear a mask. The queue was probably 1km long.

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"Someone came round and said 'not everybody can get in, so we suggest you change the date or get a refund'.

"A lot of people were leaving. They were just getting fed up.

"I think the queues are ridiculous. I will never come back here for sure."

Molly Pike, one of the Mirror's showbiz reporters, got stuck in the queue with her boyfriend.

"When we got in the queues were massive for absolutely everything. There are social distance markers in some of the queues but no one was following it or wearing masks, even in the indoor bits of the queues," she said.

"There were thousands of people queuing and the two queues wrapped around to a corner where there was one person each per queue checking temps.

"Then you had to get into this massive queue for security, where there were only like eight people doing bag checks for thousands of people."

Claire, who has a season ticket, was surprised at the lack of organisation, given how smoothly things have run at the park during her previous visits.

"We went in the first lockdown and they were very organised and on the ball," she said.

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"People think coronavirus has gone away but it hasn't. Overall my experience was very poor. I have complained to Chessington."

A spokesperson for Chessington said everyone who made it through the queue was let in, while those who left were urged to contact [email protected] to ensure the team can "provide appropriate resolutions" such as "revalidating tickets so guests can pre-book a ticket for another day of their choosing".

They added: "As part of our COVID-19 hygiene and safety measures, we request that all guests wear a suitable face mask, with face masks mandatory for those aged 11 and over on all rides and attractions, and in indoor public areas.

"We also ask that all guests observe social distancing and to use the distancing markers across the Resort and in queue lines.

"Dedicated marshals, public announcements and signage frequently remind guests of the need to maintain a safe distance.

Some people made their way home due to the long queues
(Image: naomicollier01/Twitter)

"All our COVID-19 hygiene and safety measures are also detailed on our website for guests in advance of their visit here https://www.chessington.com/our-company/coronavirus/."

When asked about the staff members using temperature guns, they said the number of staff present on each of the two entrance gates "was consistent with the number on any similar day".

They said: "We are confident that the non-contact temperature checks, were conducted appropriately in line with the rigorous COVID-19 training staff undergo. "

Queue times for rides did not exceed the expected length for a school holiday once frequent cleaning of rides was taken into account, they added, noting that a small number of rides and attractions did have a "down period".

They continued: "Since the start of the pandemic, our first priority has always been the safety of our guests, staff and animals in our care.

“Yesterday was an unusual occurrence and not the experience we look to provide guests. We are subsequently investigating further to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

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