Taking infants to theme parks – has Chessington World of Adventures cracked it?
Just one year ago, Jenna and I actually went on a trip to Chessington World of Adventures Resort for our dateversary – yeah, that’s a real thing, there’s a hashtag to prove it.
It involved an elaborate white lie, in which I convinced her we were heading to a meat factory for discount-priced protein. She wouldn’t stop asking questions about where we were going and I panicked, okay!
It seems crazy to think that just a couple of months later, roller coasters would be off limits to her and a year later we have an almost three-month-old daughter! One who will eventually come to know the joy of theme parks.
Speaking of, in a first of its kind for the park, Chessington World of Adventures Resort has introduced a buggy lane to get behind thrill-seeking parents visiting with youngsters.
With Professor Burp’s Bubbleworks closed last year – RIP – it was replaced this year with The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure.
The buggy lane has been introduced as part of the launch to help streamline the chaotic collision of infant-pushing parents attempting to make it onto and around the ride, which has quickly become the most popular attraction for toddlers.
Sasha Kingsley has been appointed buggy lane supervisor to oversee the project, which stretches a 100-metre distance in its current form.
My journalistic curiosity got the best of me, so I got in contact with Chessington and spoke with Sasha for more details on the parent-centric innovation and its potential, which is designed to prevent a “pram jam”.
I found it particularly interesting because of a promise I once made myself after a visit to Disney World seven years ago. I saw buggy brawling and pram jams taking place throughout the parks while there and, while having my own children was certainly not on the cards then, I promised I’d never visit a theme park if they were still pram-reliant. I’ll live to eat my words, no doubt.
“If buggy lanes get put in place across Chessington and prove to be successful, we’re sure other attractions might jump on the ‘pram wagon’.”
Explaining to me where the buggy lane concept came from, Sasha said: “At this time of year, the Resort sees a huge number of parents with prams visiting with toddlers, and we expect the number to be even higher this year with the introduction of The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure.
“With such a spike in guests over summer, we’ve looked for a new way to ensure travelling through the theme park with a pram is as smooth and easy as possible for families, and help them avoid any potential pram jams. The introduction of the buggy lane aims to improve this even further.”
She went onto say that the trial so far has yielded positive feedback from parents. And, depending on how strong the overall feedback from the trial is, there’s potential to make buggy lanes, which are optional, a park-wide fixture.
“The version we trialled was one-way, however, if feedback is positive we’d look to expand this. At the moment we need to fully review feedback from the trial period and look at how the lanes will logistically work if extended to the whole theme park,” Sasha said, adding guest experience improvements are always being observed.
To that end, buggy lanes may well roll out across other venues owned by Merlin, meaning launches at Alton Towers and so on. “If buggy lanes get put in place across Chessington and prove to be successful, we’re sure other attractions might jump on the ‘pram wagon’.”
What do you think? Would you make use of a buggy lane?