Room on the Broom: A Magical Journey is now officially open at Chessington World of Adventures, and so kickstarts the 2019 season for the park! The attraction is based on the children’s book Room on the Broom, written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler – some of you may also recognise their work from the Gruffalo children’s book and the Gruffalo River Ride Adventure that was opened to the park last year.
Having had the chance to experience Gruffalo last year, I was very excited to see what was in store for Room on the Broom. Since the closure of Hocus Pocus Hall in September last year, I knew it was about time it needed a fresh new look. It looked tired and in dire need of some love and TLC – especially with the removal of the 3D glasses. Before long, Chessington announced that the Hocus Pocus Hall was up for sale with a new buyer interested in calling the Burnt Stub their home, and so Room on the Broom was born.
I was kindly invited by Chessington Buzz to join them at the media event on Saturday 9th March, and be one of the first to experience the new attraction. I was very eager to see the changes and how Merlin Magic Making were going to make the story come to life. Knowing how impressive Gruffalo turned out to be, I knew we would be in for something special. Spoilers ahead from this point on…
At first glance to the exterior of the building, you might not notice many changes. To the left of the entrance is the extended queueline that has been specifically made for this new IP – and it’s very much needed as the original queueline was extremely tiny! There’s also your standard Picsolve photo opportunity building – of course this is a necessity to any attraction, right? 😉 The main entrance sign is cute, and I loved the witch’s broom hanging out of the window above here, as if to suggest that the witch crash landed into the building.
First thing to note is that this attraction is wheelchair friendly, so everyone can experience the new Room on the Broom attraction. As we were escorted into the attraction with Andrew Porter and some of the Merlin Magic Making team, it wasn’t long before you noticed the subtle changes inside. It had been completely repainted with new items on the bookshelves, the paintings have been updated with each of the characters in the Room on the Broom story including the cat, dog, frog and bird. Then it was main attraction, the massive open book you can see ahead of you along with the witch cauldron – brewing away. As the show started, the projection mapping in this first scene is fantastic – and I’m a huge sucker for it. It was aligned so well with the props in the room and the splash/smoke effects that worked with the projection made it come to life. Fab work!
As you journey through the building, you are transported into the story, joining the witch on her journey as she meets an array of characters who catch a ride on her broom – only question is, is there room on the broom? Each scene is captured beautifully well and adds in an extra element of interactivity. From jumping up and down to get the witch’s hat down from a tree to finding the witch’s bow amongst some hay bales. This interaction is perfect for the kids to be immersed in the story – of course, adults can join in too! Each room has the perfect blend of animatronics, AV effects, lighting, smell canisters, and with THAT awesome soundtrack, it really transports you into the Room on the Broom story.
As you venture towards the end of the attraction, you can tell it starts to become darker and more sinister – especially with a massive dragon shooting smoke/mist out of its mouth. If I were a kid, I would be terrified! The mirror maze is still there which I’m very happy about – it was always a staple piece as part of Hocus Pocus Hall. But that is not where the story ends… The finale of the Room on the Broom is one that I was not expecting at all. It is incredibly impressive to see Merlin Magic Making create the witch’s brand-new broom with seats for everyone! The music in this scene was so magical, it felt like I had just watched a movie at the cinema.
Not only do you have the witch’s broom animatronic, you’ve got a real mix of 2D, 3D effects and projection mapping – it follows the same pattern as the first scene with the witch’s cauldron bubbling away and as the screen showed each character dropped an item to make the potion, there were smoke and water effects too which really added to the realism. As an adult, I was so impressed by what Chessington and MMM have created. Fantastic job and considering I saw an influx of excited families queuing for this attraction on Annual Passholder Day, this looks to be a huge success for the park.
As always, there will be Room on the Broom merch including toys and the books on sale in the Adventure Point Shop. I’m hoping there will be a pin badge for us avid collectors – hint hint! Overall, I was thoroughly impressed by the attraction and I’m sure to revisit this on my next few visits to Chessington. Whilst there are a few things that need finishing including theming and the automation of the shows which MMM are doing as we speak, I’m sure this will become a staple to any visit to Chessington if you have young children with you.
That’s all for now!