First dubbed Project Genesis, and then Project Amazon, the World of Jumanji as it ended up, opened to the public on 15 May.
A chunky 3D sign adorns the entrance to this £17 million new area at Chessington World of Adventures.
Here it is the video game-linked modern remakes of the franchise that are the basis of the theming, although the Robin Williams original is also represented.
The classic animal playing pieces from the board-game based 1995 original are on display in giant form.
Like many things in this large artistic creation by Merlin Magic Making, they are very nicely textured pieces of art.
But is the huge Jaguar shrine centrepiece model that catches the eye before anything else.
It mysteriously chimes before deeply roaring as the Mandrill Mayhem rollercoaster comes to a stop towards the top of the animal.
And the headline ride’s track circles the outer perimeter of the area, with its track inversion topping the World of Jumanji’s entrance portal.
This striking green, chunky rollercoaster catches the attention every time in moves around the track.
A limited food offering is available from the vehicle-themed outlet that used to be the control booth for Alton Towers’ Ripsaw.
The menu includes giant turkey legs for £14, or regular and vegan hotdogs for 50p less.
Straying from the paths
There are plants well spread throughout the new area, but they are young and a little sparse. It isn’t clear how much they will fill out over time.
On this busy half-term weekday, many people stray from the board-game styled footpaths and trample across the woodchip.
The two supporting flat rides – Ostrich Stampede and Mamba Strike – make a reasonable dent in Chessington’s overall ride capacity, but today they are up against it as reliability across the park struggles.
Mamba Strike makes a stuttering attempt at clear its hefty 40-minute advertised waiting time, which takes closer to an hour in reality.
It’s as fun as any Miami-style flat ride, but the cycle is short and the single staff member manning the ride is unfairly left alone to manage busy queues in both the regular and access lines.
Elsewhere, Ostrich Stampede is suffering from reliability issues which soon sees its advertised queue swell to more than an hour.
The area’s urgent music is possibly a little too loud, and it also stops every now and again as it seemingly resets.
The area containing a few game stalls and a roofless store at the exit of Mandrill Mayhem is wonderfully themed with North African-style lanterns, and draped canopies provide the only real shelter of the area.
Much of the merchandise comes in rugged browns and khakis, with the World of Jumanji ranger-like shirts being particularly authentic-looking.
There are lots of wonderful artistic touches in signage and props around the entire area, with the creative attention to detail very high indeed.
Merlin Entertainments has taken a small but significant step in upping its game of themed offerings with this one.
This Jumanji-themed area is also a significant step forward for Chessington and is of course a net increase of three rides at the park.
They’re all modest in their ability to shift numbers of guests, but their addition is certainly welcomed.
The World of Jumanji looks great, and takes its place as one of the UK’s best themed areas at a theme park.