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 recognise their work from the Gruffalo children’s book. Let’s not forget the Gruffalo River Ride Adventure that opened at the park in 2017.
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 Hocus Pocus Hall closed in September last year, I knew it was about time this 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. It wasn’t long before Chessington announced that the Hocus Pocus Hall was ‘up for sale’. Everyone was eager to find out who the new buyer was? And so, Room on the Broom: A Magical Journey was born.
I was kindly invited by Chessington Buzz to join them at the media event on Saturday 9th March. We would be one of the first to experience the new attraction. I was eager to see the changes that have been made. And slightly curious as to how Merlin Magic Making were going to bring this story come to life. The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure turned into a real success so I knew we’d 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. It’s very much needed as the original queue line was tiny! There’s also your standard Picsolve photo opportunity building. A necessity to any attraction, right? The main entrance sign looked very cute. 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. Everyone can experience the new Room on the Broom attraction which is amazing. Andy Porter from Merlin Magic Making escorted through the attraction. He gave us some great insight into the attraction and how this concept came to life. It’d been completely repainted inside. The paintings were updated with each of the characters in the Room on the Broom story. Then it was on to the main attraction. Before you is a massive open book along with the witch’s cauldron, brewing away. As the show started, the projection mapping in this first scene was fantastic. It’s aligned so well with the props in the room. The splash/smoke effects were in perfect sync with the projection. This really made it come to life.
As you journey through the building, you’re 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 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. Plus 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 been 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 also 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. The screen shows each character dropping an item into the cauldron. Then you’ve got the added smoke and water effects which really added to the realism. Chessington and MMM have created an impressive attraction for the whole family. Fantastic job, 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! Room on the Broom: A Magical Journey was impressive. I’ll definitely 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!