Though Chessington World of Adventures is divided into multiple themes, they aren't all equally lavish or popular. What looked like the best-developed and best-attended part was Transylvania, filled with child-friendly haunted-type attractions, as well as the lone operating non-powered roller coaster, the Vampire. This is a suspended roller coaster --- the cars hang from the track, above --- and in its original incarnation the cars were bat-shaped. That's long gone, alas, and now it's a floorless, the kind where you sit in swinging seats. This is a pretty good ride, still. It's graceful and smooth and swoopy, and at some parts you go flying just above the ground, making the ride feel all the faster and more thrilling.
It's also beautifully decorated. The launch platform is nearly pitch dark, with a giant animatronic figure of a man playing an organ. It's just as what you would expect from a classic horror movie even if you can't specify what one it did happen in. It swoops through very well-grown trees, always a bonus. And on the return leg it sweeps out over the Transylvania town area. It's gorgeous and well-placed, and a good ride.
The wait times were modest and we didn't think much about that. bunny_hugger would see on social media that the next day --- Saturday --- there were waits of an hour or more for the ride. I wouldn't have imagined the park would be that much busier on a Saturday than a Friday. Though the roller coaster would also have to do the duty of taking in all the thrill passengers, since the other two roller coasters were still closed Saturday.
The other, powered, roller coaster operating was the Scorpion Express. That's in the Mexicana area, themed to the Old West Or So; lots of Old Missions and Wild West rides and games there. This is a short ride, that goes around its little track, mostly a helix, twice per ride. Again, though, it's well-themed. The entrance queue takes you around the artefacts of an abandoned southwestern mining town and warnings about the weird rumors about what's going on there. The centerpieces are an oil rig, with flame that shoots off at a good moment; and a large animatronic steampunk scorpion. That moves its tail a little bit, and it shoots water from the tail at the train.
Unexpected and not thematically necessary water elements were a recurring theme of Chessington rides. One that got, and horrified, us was on the Monkey Swinger within the Wild Asia attraction. This is your classic elevated swing ride, although rather than being painted garish and bright this was done all in greys and browns. It conveyed the impression of being a stone monument lost to the jungle. There was some water on the swing seats, but we took that to be left over from the intermittent light rains of morning. No; what it was from was jets of water that shot out, mostly at the person in the outer row --- in our case bunny_hugger --- and on every single rotation. Not just a mist, either, but enough to soak us. It wasn't a sunny or hot enough day for this stuff.
They had an air dryer next to the ride, the kind that gives you several minutes of a warm stream of air in exchange for all the coins you have. But we got to that just behind one of those slow-moving confused family packs you seen in amusement parks, the kind where nobody seems to be able to quite coordinate the concepts of ``put in the demanded amount of money'' and ``stand inside the dryer booth''. We would end up spending so much time waiting for them to get started --- never mind to dry off --- that we gave up on mechanically assisted drying and went off on our own.
Threatening us with a water feature, but not actually doing the soaking, was the Rameses Revenge ride within the Forbidden Kingdom (Egyptian) area. This is a Top Spin ride, one of those long benches of seats that are rotated back and forth on an axis that itself spins, so that you go tumbling head-under-heel and vice-versa repeatedly. It's a ride that takes forever to load, but they make up for it with a good long ride time that's actually split in two. The first part locks the seats in place so you roll forward or back with the main axis, and after a few minutes of that they stop the ride and let people get off if they want. A couple people did. The second half of the ride, not just does the main axis rotate, but the seats spin along that axis so that you might be tumbling forward while the ride tumbles backwards. It's rather fun. The pool in front of the ride has jets obviously intended to spray water at people, but those weren't operating the day we went and we were thankful for it.
Bit of a mystery to this is that the ride is set in a pit, so that while you go up a good distance from the launch platform, you don't get very high above ground level. It's like they want the ride to be hidden from passers-by, which they might in fact have been going for.
Tomb Blaster isn't quite a thrill ride, but it's another thing in the Forbidden Kingdom. It's an indoor dark ride. It reminded us of some of the rides at d'Efteling, as it was a train progressing through lightly animatronic scenes. These had targets in them, and passengers are given lasers to shoot targets and maybe even make things happen. The launch station is a bit weird as it includes some voice calling for more civilians to shoot the monsters, which among other things seems to defy the point of something being a civilian. There was something odd about the whole ride --- which lasts seven minutes all told --- starting with the fact the Tomb Blaster name is just on a canvas sign strapped over the name permanently attached to the building. And the animatronics seem to be reacting more to something absent, rather than whatever the riders are doing.
bunny_hugger learned what, later on. The ride used to be called Forbidden Tomb, and it used to outright tell a story. Specifically, it had animatronics that showed a corrupt Arabian tour guide trying to steal treasure, and ultimately being captured by mummies and sacrificed before a hard rock concert finale. The Arabian thief was taken out, but not much of the animatronics changed, resulting in the weird something-is-missing-but-what effect. And the truly delightful part of this is that the Forbidden Tomb existence of the ride ended in 2001. It's been Tomb Blaster for thirteen years now and they still haven't put up a permanent sign. It's delightful seeing that.
Trivia: Colorado and Wyoming are both four degrees of latitude from their northern to their southern borders. The northern border of Montana is also four degrees of latitude from its main, latitudinal, southern border. Source: How The States Got Their Shapes, Mark Stein.
Currently Reading: After the Reich: The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation, Giles MacDonogh.
PS: Lewis Carroll Tries Changing The Way You See Trigonometry, talking about some neat symbols he proposed for the basic trig functions. First of these since the last roundup.