Chessington World of Adventures Resort becomes Wonder Park this Easter ahead of film launch

Chessington World of Adventures Resort will become Wonder Park this Saturday (April 6, 2019), to celebrate the release of the highly anticipated animated movie. The anime, starring Jennifer Garner, Mila Kunis and Ken Jeong tells the story of a magnificent amusement park where the imagination of a wildly creative girl named June comes alive.

Chessington will celebrate its new look with a host of activities at the Surrey Resort over Easter inspired by the film, which is released in 2D and 3D cinemas on Monday April 8, with characters voiced by UK talent, Tom Baker as lovable bear Boomer and Joe Sugg and Casper Lee as mischievous beavers Gus and Cooper.

Boomer will be on hand to greet guests from today to Monday April 22, as families also get to design their own Wonder Chimp for the chance to win a bundle of Wonder Park goodies; add their mark to a giant colouring wall; and experience a virtual reality roller-coaster game, all at the Wonder Park Hut.

Tim Harrison-Jones, Divisional Director at Chessington World of Adventures Resort, said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with Wonder Park to transform Chessington this Easter. We are excited, as we hope our guests will be, for all the activities that will be available and can’t wait for the film to hit the big screen.”

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Priory Park playground revamp to start in May

The exciting designs for Priory Park’s playground revamp have been unveiled. The popular play space will undergo a two-month refurbishment project to replace its ageing equipment, starting in mid-May. The design retains the playground’s nautical theme and is packed with equipment offering excellent variety for children of all ages and abilities.

‘The Grey Lady’ ship, complete with sails and a ship’s wheel will continue to be the centrepiece. The new vessel features a tube slide, balance bars, ladders, a climbing net, hammocks and play panels all set over two decks.

The four-tower ‘Priory Castle’ climbing frame, designed for children aged 4 to 12 features two types of slide, a bridge, climbing net and a spiral ‘curly climber’. While the smaller two-tier ‘Priory Gatehouse’ includes a slide, climbing net, fireman’s pole and play panels aimed at 2 to 6 year olds.

A 25-metre double zip wire offers twice the fun, along with nine swings suitable for a variety of ages, two types of climbing nets, a multi-seesaw with back supports, a carousel roundabout suitable for children with disabilities, horse springers and spinners.

The bespoke scheme has been designed to suit the park’s unique identity and historic setting. The popular climbing wall and summer splash play will remain and the overall layout and planting will not change.

The playground will need to close for the duration of the works and will reopen once the improvements are complete in July, in time for the summer holidays.

Morag Williams, Head of Neighbourhood Operations, said: “Priory Park receives over three million visits each year from all over the borough and further afield. Its much-loved playground has provided countless hours of fun for children for nearly 12 years but it has taken its toll on the equipment.

“Taking on board what parents and carers told us when we surveyed them, the refurbishment keeps the essence of what’s there already but offers a broader range of equipment and has a greater sense of openness to make it easier for parents and carers to keep an eye on children of different ages using different parts of the playground. We’re also using materials that are easy to maintain and will last.

“We’re sorry for the inconvenience that the playground closure will cause while the work takes place. We hope parents, carers and children will love the new design, which will be exciting and challenging whilst offering countless opportunities for imaginative play to support children’s social, creative and physical development.”

The manufacture and installation will be carried out by Kompan Ltd, who were appointed following a tender process. Kompan is an extremely experienced contractor and carried out the refurb of the playground at the popular Meadowbank Recreation Ground in Dorking, which was frequently referenced in responses to our consultation.

The Priory Park playground refurbishment is part of the Council’s rolling programme of investment in its parks and greenspaces around the borough. It saw play areas in Chipstead and Kingswood upgraded last year, with plans being developed to upgrade Merstham Recreation Ground in future.

Adventure playground and gardens to open in town centre 

Following an exciting redevelopment programme Westnye Gardens will open to the public on Saturday 30 March.

The Gardens are situated in the heart of Guildford, across the River Wey from Debenhams. The new design, created by Davis White Ltd - RHS Gold medal Hampton Court Flower winners, includes a variety of traditional play equipment from wobbly bridges to a tree climbing net. 

Young children will be able to play on the double width embankment slide and bounce around on the submerged trampoline. Other special additions include a brass rubbing post trail around the perimeter, a woven willow living pod and a magnifying post. Picnic tables and chairs and benches complete the scene. 

Local councillors were given a tour of the gardens in anticipation of the opening event. 

Leader of the Councillor and Lead Councillor for Planning and Regeneration, Cllr Paul Spooner said: 

“The transformation of the Westnye Gardens has been truly remarkable. The new design and play apparatus has bought life back to the Gardens creating another little jewel in the crown of our stunning historic town centre. Our Parks and Leisure team have done an exceptional job in connecting children with nature. We currently hold 9 Green Flag awards for our green spaces and this is testament to their work. The project to revitalise Westnye is part of the Council’s Play Strategy, ensuring that all of our play facilities are of a high standard and granting children the opportunity to play freely.”

Deputy Lead Councillor for Urban Parks & Recreation and Countryside & Rural, Cllr David Wright said: 

“It’s a wonderful space for families both local and those visiting to enjoy and serves as a good example of us listening and working closely with local residents to transform an underused area into something attractive and beneficial for all. Although the Gardens are equipped for young children we hope that perhaps other members of the community or those working in the town centre will be interested in visiting it.”

During the opening event, the Council’s Playrangers will be on hand from 12:30pm – 3:30pm. The Guildford Baptist Church are providing free refreshments and will also be open for families to use their facilities and also participate in some activities.

Trial between Baby Sensory and Sea Life UK explores sensory experiences in a water-based environment to support early years development

A new partnership between award-winning early years sensory experience provider, Baby Sensory, (part of the WOW World Group) and the world’s largest aquarium group Sea Life, is introducing babies to sensory activities in water-related surroundings, to explore the theory that being close to water and underwater sensory activities can aid their early development.

 “An aquarium can produce a range of learning benefits for a baby,” explains Dr Lin Day, renowned child development expert and founder of Baby Sensory. “These include visual and sensory benefits, vocabulary learning with words such as 'wet', 'warm', 'cold', 'bubble', as well as the names of the animals, and the opportunity to make discoveries.”

“The aquarium setting enhances this learning, particularly the science skills of observation and exploration, due to the different display temperatures and environments they are exposed to, from the icy Antarctic of penguins to the warm waters of the tropical ocean or the rainforest.”

From birth, babies need plenty of opportunities to track moving objects to stimulate the growth of neural connections in the brain. Babies can follow the path of moving sea creatures in the aquarium, which promotes visual development through focusing, eye-teaming, and tracking.

Activities in an aquarium environment can be particularly beneficial for babies with sensory impairments or disabilities.

“The aquarium setting is therapeutic, relaxing and calming, which makes it the perfect environment for babies with additional sensory needs,” Dr Lin adds. “It inspires exploration and it encourages them to express and release their emotions, which is really important for development.”

To further explore and celebrate the range of benefits for babies from play to sensory exploration in an aquarium environment, all WOW World Group programmes, including Baby Sensory, will be running special ‘Marine Week’ themed sessions commencing 18th March 2019. Sea Life aquariums across the UK will be partnering with the WOW World Group to offer special one-off taster sessions for the different programmes hosted within its aquariums during this week.

“We are excited to be partnering with WOW World Group to explore the learning benefits for children through hosting these taster sessions in the exclusive setting of our aquariums,” explains Craig Dunkerley, Head of Sea Life UK.

“They are the ideal opportunity for parents and their little ones to experience a taster of the renowned Baby Sensory programme first hand, in a truly unique environment. This is a huge development opportunity with both brands working in partnership, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds.”

Science and art come alive at Innovate Guildford on 23 March

Our fantastic science and arts festival, Innovate Guildford is back for its 4th year on Saturday 23 March at G Live. Building on the success of previous events, this year’s Innovate promises to be the best yet! 

With exhibitors from across the local area, Innovate Guildford will inspire and delight people of all ages. There’s plenty for the kids to do and best of all the event is completely free. 

Cllr Paul Spooner, Leader of the Council says: "Innovate Guildford is a fantastic free day out for all the family. Guildford is a centre for innovation and it's great to see so many local companies taking part to showcase their projects and inspire the next generation."

Cllr Gordon Jackson, Lead Councillor for Innovation and Transformation adds: "There's lots on offer this year from photography workshops and Guildford Shakespeare Company's youth theatre to the chance to sit inside a McLaren supercar and a Formula Student electric racing car, so come and join us on Saturday 23 March at G Live."

Among the exhibitors this year are Surrey Satellite Technology, The Pirbright Institute, a pop-up Planetarium and the Academy of Contemporary Music. Visitors will be able to book for the small number of ticketed events, including photo workshops from Sharp Shots, when they arrive at the venue. 

Plus we’ve got a special treat for computer gamers – Guildford’s megastar game company Media Molecule will be at the show with brand new entertainment! 

The event, which is kindly sponsored by Autolawn and Kyan and supported by Experience Guildford and engineering firm Vision Triteq,  will run from 10am to 5pm at G Live, so join us for a day out with a difference. Visit for the full list of exhibitors and what's on during the day.

The University of Surrey are taking part in this year's event, showcasing some of the inspirational things they are achieving at the forefront of research and technology. 

Nikki Dormon, Public Engagement Manager at the University of Surrey, which is taking part for the fourth time, added: 

“Innovate Guildford provides the perfect opportunity to share some of the inspirational work the University of Surrey is undertaking through research and innovation - with the young minds of the future. We’ve got lots of exciting exhibits and demonstrations planned this year, such as a full size Formula Student racing car, powered by electricity and constructed by our students and an interactive experience on how music and our emotions are linked. 

“Innovative thinking is shaping the future, and we always look forward to being a part of this fantastic event.”