The World of Jumanji opens at Chessington

Mandrill Mayhem, Chessington World of Adventures

The World of Jumanji area has opened at Chessington World of Adventures, with access being given to the media on Saturday.

An opening for competition winners and annual pass holders then takes place on Sunday, after which the area will open to all Chessington visitors from Monday.

The area’s headline ride is the Mandrill Mayhem rollercoaster, which is the first with a track inversion at Chessington.

The World of Jumanji also features two supporting flat rides, Ostrich Stampede and Mamba Strike.

Merlin Entertainments chief executive Scott O’Neil opened the area to invited media representatives in a brief ceremony on Saturday.

He later Tweeted to say the themed land was his company’s “most expansive and exciting yet”.

Virtual queueing

The area is understood to have cost £17 million in total, which Merlin said was its largest investment in Chessington to date.

A virtual queuing system will be in use for Mandrill Mayhem from Monday due to uncertainty around the ride’s capacity to manage a conventional queue.

A shuttle-style launched wing rollercoaster, the Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M) manufactured ride has a unconventionally-low 1.2 metre height restriction for riders.

In March last year, Merlin signed an agreement with Sony Pictures Entertainment to exclusively launch Jumanji-themed attractions internationally.

Jumanji, Merlin Entertainments
Jumanji – The Adventure opened at Merlin’s Italian theme park Gardaland last year

The fantasy franchise was launched in 1995 as a Robin Williams film, but has been re-booted in recent years starring Dwayne Johnson.

The deal between Merlin and Sony covers both Europe and North America. It includes attractions, rides, lands, retail outlets and themed hotel rooms.

‘Truly unique’

John Burton, creative lead designer for Merlin, developed a Jumanji-themed dark ride for the Italian theme park Gardaland last year.

He also led the development of the World of Jumanji at Chessington, with Mandrill Mayhem being his first complete rollercoaster project “from scratch”.

“What a day,” he Tweeted. “I couldn’t be more proud to be part of the team who made this a reality.”

“This is the first rollercoaster from scratch I’ve worked on, with B&M developing a family-thrill winged coaster that gave [Chessington] something truly unique for their portfolio.”

Mandrill Mayhem sees a continuing diversification in the offering from Swiss rollercoaster engineers B&M, who are typically known for their large thrill rides.