Cafe Society: Taken for a ride
Saturday 11 October 1997
This is the perfect time for going to theme parks. School has gone back and, although Chessington World of Adventures still takes enough pounds 18-a- heads to make it worth staying open, the place is blissfully clear. The sight of a child, in fact, is more startling than anything you'll see in the Terror Tomb.
It's still hard on the feet, though. After a couple of hours' hiking up the empty queue paths, you can do with a drink. Which, fortunately, you can get. This is not so of all theme parks: the only way we could work out how to get a glass of plonk last time I was in the Puritanical World of Disney, was by laying out a king's ransom for a nasty three-course meal. But buried in what was once a room in the former stately home, Chessington has bowed to adult needs by creating the King's Head Bar.
Not the world's nicest bar, mind you. It reminds one of those places strung along A-roads for the sustenance of travelling salesmen: cavernous, with panelled walls which are probably original to the house but, given the fake nature of the rest of the park, look as though they have been put in to create a Genuine Pub Effect.
Polite uniformed adolescents took our orders. My companion ordered a bottled beer. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to put that in a plastic glass," said the barmaid. "I don't need a glass, thanks," said companion. "No," said barmaid, "I mean I have to put it in one."
Surprisingly, given the captive audience, drinks weren't that expensive: his beer and my alcopop came to pounds 4.60. But you're not paying for glamour: sitting on our platform, we realised we were the only people wearing natural fibres. Ten minutes in there, and the Rameses Revenge ride looked like a doddle.
King's Head Bar, Chessington World of Adventures, Leatherhead Rd, Chessington (01372 727227). Open 10am-5.15pm to 2 Nov
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