When it was announced that Chessington World of Adventures was to get a new 1.4-metre height restricted rollercoaster, many found that hard to believe.
It turns out they were right to be sceptical – the height limit for riders was eventually reduced to 1.2 metres for whatever reason.
But what was also hard to believe that this was seemingly a reverse launching, shuttle, wing coaster from manufacturers Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M).
B&M tend to favour bigger rides and in any case have always made complete-circuit models, never producing shuttles (or boomerangs).
And Chessington’s decision to install a shuttle ride, notorious for their limited capacities compared with full-circuit rollercoasters, was also questioned.
What we have is therefore a ride that will be impossible to see more than 800 people per hour riding, and in reality it will likely be far fewer.
Social media age
Mandrill Mayhem’s construction has been completed and and is now testing. It has now become clear that the ride could be one of the first British rollercoaster’s designed for the social media age.
Its two track ends are highly photogenic, and while the feature is a little reminiscent of Disney’s famous Expedition Everest terminus, what’s different here is that the track ends are not a secret known only to riders and watchers of YouTube videos.
The ends will give the unsuspecting member of the public plenty of reason to stop and watch the ride through a full cycle, intrigued by what will – or maybe even could – happen.
In the age of Instagram and TikTok reels, the perilous-looking ends might become something of a viral hit when the ride opens on 15 May.
And the age-old visitor questions of “does it go upside down?” and “do you get wet on it?” could conceivably become “can it go off the ends?”
Only B&M, famously rigid and elusive in nature, know why they have decided to embrace both the shuttle and family-orientated aspect of theme park rides.
But the real risk of Mandrill Mayhem is a more conventional one: will queues be too big for guests to bear, and subsequently lead to that dreaded negative feedback?
That is the ultimate acid test for any theme park and when introducing a big new ride.
The World of Jumanji is of course adding two other new rides at the same time as Mandrill Mayhem.
Collectively along with the rollercoaster, Ostrich Stampede and Mamba Strike should take up the new area’s working capacity to well over a thousand people per hour.
So as a new addition to Chessington, the whole package seems to be a solid strengthening of the park’s offering.
Coming back to Mandrill Mayhem, it has almost certainly not delivered any innovative new way to solve capacity issues presented by shuttle rollercoasters.
The u-turn and new height restriction of 1.2 metres will open up an inverting ride to a whole new group of youngsters, and of course this could mean more people in the queue.
B&M taking up a family shuttle ride is certainly unique, but ironically the ride’s success will only likely come through it being not that popular – so that queue times do not spoil people’s day.