Chessington World of Adventures Resort have confirmed that World of Jumanji, their new for 2023 land, will officially open on Monday 15th May. With construction continuing on-site, the Resort invited Attraction Source and others for a hard hat tour, along with the opportunity to ‘meet the makers’ behind the development.

Upon arrival at the Resort’s hotels we were checked in by the PR team and given a Jumanji branded hard hat and high vis vest, along with steel toe capped boots! It was great to chat with some other enthusiasts from the wider community. Joining us for the tour of the construction site was John Burton and Dan Smith, Creative Lead and Senior Project Manager at Merlin Magic Making respectively. We were also accompanied by the owners of B&E Services, the company responsible for directly managing the work on the site, and who have also been involved with a number of previous projects at the southern Merlin theme parks.

After walking through the closed theme park in order to get to the construction site, we arrived at what will be the entrance to the new area. Currently consisting of not much other than the metal framework for the entrance portal, John noted that theming would be added in due course, including 3D signage, as shown in previously published concept images. John explained how they wanted to ensure they designed an exciting entrance, hence positioning it beneath Mandrill Mayhem’s inversion. As well as the element’s airtime and thrills encouraging guests to react and scream, a mandrill sound effect will also play out as the train passes over. From the entrance point, guests will also have sight lines down towards the 55ft Jaguar Shrine, which Mandrill Mayhem spirals up around.

Upon entering the area, guests will come across a large map of World of Jumanji on the left, where they will be able to collect a smaller copy of the map. This will contain an activity trail with tasks and questions to complete, much like the Fishnapper Trail in Shipwreck Coast. John noted that everything in the land has been developed with a story behind it. For example, the food and beverage kiosk, found on the right after entering the area, is themed as a truck for the Jumanji Food Supply Company which was on its way to the bazaar, before being attacked and ravaged by the mandrills. Therefore, unable to reach the bazaar, they instead set up shop in the overturned truck. As suspected, it was confirmed that the cabin of the truck is the frontage of Ripsaw’s former op cabin.

Throughout the land, there will be pattern-impressed flooring, including footprints of the creatures which roam Jumanji. The centre of the land features pathways in the shape of the Jumanji game board, with a number of these containing play equipment and obstacles to entertain those guests who may not yet be tall enough to experience the area’s attractions. Larger totems of the game board pieces can also be found dotted around, with each of these set to have its own sound effects. The very centre of the land is the location of a photo opportunity, where the words ‘World of Jumanji’ have been written in such a way that they appear to be in 3D when a photo is taken from a certain angle, looking towards the Jaguar Shrine. The point at which to stand in order to achieve this effect is marked on the floor.

After venturing through the land, guests will eventually come to the bazaar which has been designed to give a closed-in feel, with shops and stalls packed closely together. Here guests will be able to participate in activities such as a mosquito bash game and a test of strength, which will reveal how strong you are compared to Dr Bravestone. There will also be Coke Freestyle machines contained within a structure themed as a garage.

Of course, the main points of interest within World of Jumanji will be its rides, most notably its rollercoaster, Mandrill Mayhem. This launched wing coaster is the first shuttle coaster to be manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M), who are now on-site for the process of commissioning the ride. This meant that we got to witness Mandrill Mayhem testing from within the land – a truly exciting sight! As well as featuring an LSM launch in the station area, a secondary section of LSMs can be found at the base of the Jaguar Shrine, propelling the train both to the summit of the helix, as well as back through the circuit on its return to the station. Although the rollercoaster will have a 1.2m minimum height restriction, the launch still looks as though it will pack a punch (with the top speed confirmed to be 42mph) and there are some, what look to be, surprisingly whippy transitions in the layout. As shown in the concept images, the seventh row of the train is reversed, so as to face ‘backwards’. It was confirmed that there will not be an upcharge to ride in this row.

As part of the tour, we were also able to go inside the station building itself. A significant amount of theming has already been installed, and it still looks like there is more due to be added. The building has also been rigged with a notable amount of show lighting, which will no doubt add to the atmosphere inside, and will presumably be synchronised with when the ride launches. Also on display was one of the mandrill head centrepieces which will be attached to the middle of every row. Other elements of the mandrill theming, such as the arms which ‘carry’ guests on the ride, have already been installed on the train.

World of Jumanji will also feature two family flat rides. In the dune themed section is Ostrich Stampede, a 14-armed SBF Super Jumper. Each set of seats is themed to be an ostrich, with the ostrich heads custom-made in line with the design featured in the films. Although there is currently exposed breeze block around the ride, this is all set to be covered with themed rockwork and sandstone. The bazaar will be home to Mamba Strike, an SBF Top Dancer. Although the central mamba theming feature has been installed, John emphasised that this does not reflect the final colour that it will be, with finishing touches still to be applied which will make the mamba appear more realistic. It was noted that all three rides will have their own bespoke synchronised scores to accompany the ride cycle, which have been developed with Sony and inspired by the films. This will be in addition to background music tracks which will fade in and out around the main musical scores.

Following the construction site tour, we were fortunate to have an opportunity to speak further with John Burton, and ask some more questions about World of Jumanji. John explained how the area and its rides were developed with the Jumanji IP in mind, with B&M selected as manufacturer for Mandrill Mayhem due to their reputation for reliability. It was noted that a wing coaster specifically was chosen since it would present a unique ride experience for the typical rider, and of course the fact it is also a launched shuttle coaster further adds to its uniqueness. Also of note was the fact that the landscaping and vegetation currently completed on-site represents only 4% of the final programme, with different planting set to be utilised across the area in accordance with the themes of its three biomes (i.e. jungle, dunes and bazaar). Our full video from the construction site tour and interview with John Burton is available to check out on our YouTube channel!

Thanks to the team at the Resort for inviting us to the event and facilitating the afternoon! We will continue to cover the area’s construction over the next two and a half months, up to its opening on Monday 15th May.

Will you be joining the quest to save Jumanji? What are you most looking forward to checking out in the new area? Let us know via the Attraction Source social media channels.
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