A dad who couldn’t wait for a family trip to Chessington Zoo after locking said the experience was “deflated”.
Matt Strudwick has been waiting for months to enjoy something different from the two miles that surround his house.
The guy was not alone in his boredom, as thousands of Britons were seen shopping or going to parks and beaches.
However, he says his trip to the zoo was just not worth it.
Matt said, “It’s safe to say that the zoo days after the theme park locks belong like its animals by day – firmly in the shade.”
The Chessington Zoo reopened on June 18 – much to the annoyance of bored families.
The opening hours are between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday to Sunday.
Tickets cost £ 12 for children 3-11 and adults.
Annual pass holders pay £ 1 and children under three enter for free.
But it looks like it wasn’t everything Brits had hoped for.
Matt, content editor for Surrey Live, described his experience in an opinion article…
When Chessington announced that he would reopen his zoo, a gasping sound was heard in our house. Alleluia.
The painful banality of a daily 10.5-hour shift sitting on a wooden chair, my back creaking, at my dining table, where the memory of weekends had evaporated, would finally be shattered.
We could finally spend a day with the family.
The relief I felt was more for my 16 month old son, as I’m sure he was getting more and more perplexed as to why his father spent more time looking at a bright rectangular screen than he was. play with him.
From the announcement, we quickly and fairly easily booked our tickets on the website. The empty calendar and planned events crossed out by the coronavirus pandemic finally had a new entry; June 24 – Chessington.
The day had finally arrived. A Wednesday, but to this day Wednesday was as important to me as any other day. It didn’t matter, and the blazing heat of the sun, which made the mercury climb to 30 ° C, only added to our enthusiasm.
With the theme park only a 20 minute drive from our house in Dorking, we decided it was best to leave in the afternoon after our toddler had napped and had a full stomach.
Our entry into Chessington was like any other time we had left – until the barrier was lifted and it was obvious that the day would be something like we had experienced before.
Cones glued together direct you, and red signs with bold white letters tell you to stay in your car where you will be temperature controlled before being allowed to enter a parking lot.
Everything seemed clear and simple, but it was so much clarity that we were greeted throughout our day and the waters became cloudier with each additional confusion.
If you miss the thrill of the rides, then the trip to the parking lot takes its own epic route, though it lacks no zest for life.
We passed two empty unmanned tents and whispered that this is surely where the temperature checks are supposed to take place?
With no one in sight, we continued our roundabout route before finding ourselves alarmingly at the exit barrier.
A security guard came to our aid and they seemed more shocked that we arrived at 2 p.m. rather than knowing how we got lost. We were kindly taken to an almost sterile parking lot, with just a bunch of cars curled up in the shade, used by annual Merlin pass holders.
The bumpy start of our family trip was not going to dampen our sun-filled bodies, and we headed enthusiastically to the front doors where the promised temperature checks were painlessly carried out by a staff member equipped with ‘EAR.
Checking the bags done, we entered the strangely calm theme park, but with the addition that there were no queues.
We were given a pamphlet explaining what was open, and informed of a restaurant offering unlisted food, as well as practical safety tips as you make your way through the apparent one-way system. .
One thing is certain, you cannot walk five meters without being met by a hand sanitizer dispenser and signs telling you to “clean your paws” and keep it two meters away.
The one-way system starts in the village of Wanyama, and unless you have a built-in GPS or are a frequent visitor to the park, finding it is an added frustration.
After crossing the rainforest where the promise of turtles was not kept, we had to ask a friendly member of staff to point us in the right direction.
It was here too, where the unlisted food store was supposed to be bustling.
Instead, the shutters were lowered with only the sad existence of a lone barrier strap as evidence that it had been opened.
We hastily found the village of Wanyama and were guided by yellow arrows painted on the ground, and walked past many hand sanitizer dispensers and one-way signs – like, confusingly, some families walked the other way.
It wasn’t until we reached the compound where we were greeted by the magnificent sight of giraffes, zebras and ostriches snaking in the field that we understood why people were marching against the one-way system because it There was a sign “exit only” directing where we had just come from.
The two-meter social distance guidelines were also impossible to follow while climbing the ramp to overlook the vast enclosure, because, as expected, this is where most people gather.
After pointing a lot and with our increased anxiety levels coming into close contact with other humans, we descended before continuing on the one-way road.
Meerkats, Ankole cattle, Bolivian squirrel monkeys, sea lions and of course Humboldt penguins easily became the highlight, but it was on the trail of kings and the anticipation of seeing the lions of Asia and western lowland gorillas tops the list.
Not for the first time, locating it was another matter.
After seeking advice from another helpful member of staff, we headed for our highlighted destination where he was warned that limited capacity was in service.
There was no need to worry about the number of people, as pretty much like the visible advice, it was minimal. In fact, an employee told us that the area had a capacity of 100 people, but that at one point, it only had eight people.
Any hope that our trip suddenly stumbled on an upward trajectory was dashed in an instant, as we walked along the clean, creaky windows with only vegetation to look at.
Undoubtedly, the warm weather had scared away the wild animals, although we saw a lonely gorilla scratching its head.
The lawn was open for sitting and relaxing, and unlike the horrific images that emerged from Bournemouth Beach, there was no need to report a “ major incident ” as there was plenty of room.
It is perhaps telling that the biggest queue we encountered during our two-hour stay was for a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.
Walking in the park itself was a ghostly experience, and obviously a lot of planning had been done to try to make people as safe, reassured and calm as possible.
As we left deflated, I couldn’t help but think it was the worst two hours I have ever had in Chessington.
A day that promised so much but offered as much entertainment as the Star Wars prequel trilogy, it is safe to say that the zoo days after the theme park lock belong like its animals of the day – firmly in the shade.
Daily Star Online contacted Chessington Zoo for comment