The full planning application for Chessington World of Adventures Resort‘s new Amazon Land development has today been published, offering a more detailed insight into the proposals, which include a rollercoaster, and generating speculation that the area could be themed around Jumanji.
Planned to be located on the field opposite Dragon’s Fury, in the southern area of the Resort, the new land would comprise a rollercoaster as its main attraction, along with two children’s rides. The rollercoaster is stated to be of 380m in length, running around the perimeter of the area. A ride station is proposed on the north east part of the site, and will be constructed from a mix of materials, including metal sheeting and synthetic thatch. The proposed track layout suggests there would be an initial backwards launch out of the station, with the train then being propelled through the main course as it returns down through the station, reaching a speed of 20 m/s (around 45mph). After travelling up into a large spike element that loops around a rock ‘animal feature’, to reach a point approximately 20m above ground level, the train will then return backwards through the layout under gravity. There is one inversion shown along the route – a shallow zero-g roll, positioned over the area’s entrance/exit portal – which would be experienced both forwards and backwards. The proposed ride, which is confirmed to have a 1.4m minimum height restriction, will take 24 guests, seated in 6 cars, and will have an approximate 1 minute ride period and a 1 minute turn around period. This would imply throughput of around 720 riders per hour.
The plans included seem to confirm that it will be a Wing Coaster manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard, based on the style of track shown and the fact that the station is annotated to show guests loading and unloading from both sides. Furthermore, the noise assessment notes that a similar ride, located in Italy, was used as a reference, although this existing ride differed in that it utilises a chain lift hill and has seven rows. Raptor, a B&M Wing Coaster in Gardaland (a theme park also owned by Merlin Entertainments), would therefore fit this description.
The development would also see a ride maintenance and plant building constructed south-east of the rollercoaster’s station, providing a workshop space, as well as housing the launch and ride control systems. A photo retail unit is planned to be situated opposite the rollercoaster’s exit, and a separate small retail unit will sit next to the station building. With one of the rollercoaster’s turns partially overlapping with the existing Explorer Entrance, it appears as though this may be required to be reconfigured as part of the development.
Two low-level flat rides suitable for younger children will also form part of the development, and be located on the east (Ride A) and north (Ride B) part of the site. Each will be served by a small operations booths and have their own fenced queue lines. It is unclear which of the four options featured in the consultation that Ride A will be, but Ride B appears to be a Junior Miami type ride.
A new timber-clad entrance portal of 3.1m in width and 3.7m high will be installed over the path into and out from the area. A key element of the area’s immersive Amazon theme will be a significant amount of new planting which is set to provide 750 new trees including new indigenous shelterbelt planting, tropical themed planting including trees, shrubs, grasses, large climbers, meadow turf, decorative gravel mulches and raised planters that will also make informal seats for guests. In terms of theming, the main plaza area will be surfaced with pattern-impressed concrete, and a series of Amazon-themed stone carvings of varying dimensions will be installed around the site. The main theming element is said to be an animal-based rockwork structure in-keeping with the Resort’s offering, although exact details are not given. The area appears to be designed to draw guests down towards this central feature, where the rollercoaster’s queue-line entrance is located. The plans confirm there will be both Fastrack and Disabled queues, in addition to the main queue, and all will be defined by a timber fence running either side of route.
A distinctive feature of the plans is the shape created by the plaza’s landscaping from above, with planned pathways forming something which is strikingly similar to the route on the fictional board game of Jumanji. Recent years have seen two new instalments of the adventure film franchise, with another sequel said to be in development, so it would appear to be a viable intellectual property on which the area and its rides could be based. Furthermore, the 2017 film, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, centred on returning the Jaguar Eye’s jewel to the Jaguar Shrine – a mountain with the shape of a jaguar’s head. This could therefore provide the basis of the area’s central theming feature. With rumours that a Jumanji-themed attraction could be coming to Gardaland, it’s plausible that the IP could have been licenced across multiple sites.
The planning application follows a public consultation held back in May of this year, where it is noted 95% of the 71 questionnaires returned indicated their overall support for the development. The development is largely as was shown in the consultation, although changes of note include the relocation of Children’s Ride B to the north of the area, the layout of the plaza’s landscaping, and the rollercoaster’s station becoming fully enclosed. The consultation followed the Resort’s long term development plan submitted in April 2017, which earmarked a new rollercoaster opening on the Amazon Land site between 2020-22. The planning application confirms that an opening date of March 2023 is now being targeted, with the proposed area anticipated to be constructed between October 2021 and December 2022, at a cost of £3.5m.
Justification for such an investment includes assisting the Resort in its recovery from the impact of COVID-19, which has resulted in significant reductions in visitor numbers, and also to mitigate the threat from potential competition. The planning application identified such competition as including (i) the emerging proposal for The London Resort, (ii) continued development at Disneyland Paris, (iii) new entrants to the market in London (e.g. Harry Potter Studio and Kidzania) and surrounding counties, and (iv) investment at other theme parks e.g. Paultons Park in Hampshire.
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