The school summer holidays are almost over! to end things on a high we took the children to Chessington world of adventures curtesy of Merlins (Who we are most greatful to)
The day brought a mixed package of emotions but on the whole it was a great day. Little man did receive a ride access pass to avoid queueing, equally meaning this should aid the avoidance of meltdowns. However through this helped in a huge way, we did not avoid meltdowns completely in fact we did encounter a few.
First Meltdown: Before leaving.
Second Meltdown: Within 30 minutes of arriving at the park.
Third Meltdown: During the Journey home.
Although the above meltdowns are never easy and will be tough on all concerned they were bearable and easier to tackle compeared to some encountered in the past. These are what I refer to as Grade 2 meltdowns. it’s the grade ones that I really can’t bear!
Well from our own experiences, I would like to share some top tips. Looking back at the time leading up to our trip, the journey, and overall day, I think these tips could be extremely beneficial to any family like ours planning a day at Chessington world of adventures.
THE LEAD UP TO YOUR DAY OUT.
a) Adjust schedules and timetables as needed.
b) Prepare your child for the trip well in advance. We began this process weeks before. This enables the child time to adjust to the idea and prepare themselves mentally. (sadly they may also go on and on and on)
c) Avoid postponement where possible.
we had to postpone hence reason for meltdown number 1:( This is a disappointment for any child! For those on the spectrum it’s a disaster. You as the parent will pay the price.
d) Be sure to have the right documents for a ride access pass. New regulations state Photo ID is needed and proof of disability that relates to a condition that makes it hard for the child to cope with the concept of having to wait/queue.
We used a osyter 5-10 card and little mans writen diagnosis. More information can be found on the website.
e) Look online for any offers that can be used in the park. Some sites offer vouchers that enable you to receive 20% or more off food and gifts brought in certain food halls and gift shops within the park.
Note! Food can be expensive and you may want to bring your own.
f) prepare child for queues. Yes you can obtain a ride access pass but you will still need to queue for use of toilets, food outlets, gift shops e.g. My little man often pushed his way to the front while holding his arm in the air displaying his bright yellow wristband. He was shouting: “Clear the way, I have a wristband and don’t have to queue” Yes not ideal and a tad embarrassing.
g) Download a map of the park. if u have an iPhone or blackberry download as a PDF file. Maps can be picked up on the day but by doing it this way your child can familiarise themself with the park and it’s contents (Worked for us)
h) Check travel updates. Driving? check traffic update before leaving. If like us you use public transport be sure to check departure times of trains and buses. Long waits at busy stations are never easy.
JOURNEY TO THE PARK
a) Don’t even think about exploring the stations M&S or WH. Smiths. This didn’t go down well with little man.
b) If your child is like mine a transport enthusiast then be prepared. Once on the train little man beeped all the way there, pressed the button opening the train doors at each and every station, repeated all the names of the stations we stopped at, and took notes on the route for use later (AT HOME, AT 3AM)
ONCE AT CHESSINGTON
a) We had curtesy tickets meaning no long queue at the ticket sales at the gate. I suggest you order your tickets online. Pre-purchased tickets can be sent to you in advance meaning you two can avoid the massive ticket sales queue. If this isn’t possible be sure to arrive early.
b) Once inside head for Market square where you will find the admissions & information office. This is where you obtain your childs ride access pass (wristband) You are required to show your documentation before the child is fitted with the wristband. I found the staff most helpful and very understanding. (Ride access enable your child and between 2 to 4 carers to enter a ride via the rides exit area. This means the child avoids queueing. This is only for adults and children who don’t fully understand the concept of queueing or just can’t cope having to do so.)
c) While at the admission centre do get your child/children measured. Some of the big rides require you to be aleast 1.4 meters tall. We didn’t think to do this when we arrived. Little man spotted a ride that required him to be 1.4 meters. He just reached the top of the measuring stick but only because his fluffy hair encounted for aleast 3 inches. Me and the member of staff who was measuring him could not help but laugh when I pointed out just how lucky it was his father had not given him a hair cut. After much debate on Little mans part that consisted with a few worries “Does this ride ever break or get stuck?” followed by “what’s the odds out of a 100 of the ride becoming stuck while I’m on it?” We were allowed down to the exit to await instructions to board. Just as we went to jump on another member of staff asked to remeasure the little dude! With that we were pointed in the direction of the Admissions centre for a prober measure up. We were then told to come back with a blue wristband to show he met the requirements of the ride. He had the largest meltdown of the day. He was shouting “I have a F***ing yellow wristband!!! I don’t want a blue one”
He then sat with his head in his hands on the dirty floor. I stood asking if everyone was enjoying the show and his father who came with with us was running for the gate.
d) This ride should come with a Warning! It should state the BUBBLE RIDE may cause sensory overload!
I assumed little man would love this ride. After all I did as a child. I didn’t consider the sensory impact it may have on a child with ASD.
Note: This ride would be ideal for sensory seekers. The things a person on the spectrum may find unbearable.
. WATER: Its a slow moving ride that is water based.
. SMELL: The changing smells of bubble gum, soap, to fruity pop amoung others were very over powering.
. NOISE: The loud music that changed suddenly each time the ride entered a different area was messing with my head, so it must of done a great deal more to little mans!
LIGHTS: The ride features strobe lighting. A warning sign is displayed to show the risk for those with conditions such as epilepsy or pregnancy.
This ride frighten the life out of my little man. We purchased the ride photo that showed little man covering his head with his arms with the fear of god in his face. Another child with ASD enjoyed this ride and was now having their second turn. I had got speaking with his mother in the queue for photos who was telling me how much her son loved it. So this shows it can go either way. Sadly for us it was the wrong way. (at least Little sis had fun)
e) Bring spare clothing or waterproof wear. As fun as those water rides can be! there is nothing worse then wet wringing children! (Note the park provides halogen heated booths, but my children would not go near them)
f) Make time to visit the Zoo and Sealife centre. We did not visit the sealife centre as little man was having problems with the small queue. The Gorilla house is fantastic and worth a visit.
g) Do not wait for all the rides to finished before heading to the gift shop (open for extra 30min after park’s closing time) We did this and were faced with huge queues and a very crowded gift shop:( Stick to spending amount and do not cave with the added pressure from childs threat of tantrums.
I ended up spending way to much:(
Note: The best gift shop that offers best value for money (pocket money gifts) was the main Chessington Gift shop located in Market Square.
h) Leave before park closng time! Why? unless you want to be faced with huge queues for the bus (station a ten minute walk, little man cried like crazy as we promised the bus) Or a packed out very noisy train, that is very overcrowded? Then take my advice! We sat on the train and were surrounded by teenagers screaming and laughing. No wonder this was the reason for little mans final meltdown.
Yes we run into a few problems but we managed to still have fun. Little man loves rollercoasters and there were some smaller one like the runaway train. A train that’s a rollercoaster! Of course he loved it!