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Rattlesnake (Chessington World of Adventures)

If the Vampire was anything, it was the straw that broke the camelís back. In this scenario, the aforesaid camels are the locals that surround Chessington World of Adventures, and when the Transylvanian noise machine opened, as far as residents were concerned, no other ride on the scale of the Vampire will open again at the park.

And to this day their mission continues meaning many rides and attractions have had planning permission turned down, including small (and quiet) family coasters. The Rattlesnake is the first new coaster since the Vampire, and to have planning permission granted, had to be buried in a hole, right in the middle of the park.

Calamity Canyon soon became Mexicana, a mixed up and eclectic stew of Wild West and Mexico, and as the Reptile House and staff restaurant were moved elsewhere to make way for what is one of Maurer Sohnesí many sales around the middle of the 1990s, an era where the steel mouse made a huge comeback.

As you enter Mexicana, to the right, the row of shops, restaurants and the shooting gallery which lead ultimately to the Runaway Mine Train. The path splits and veers off to the left for those wanting Rameses Revenge, Samurai and a good portion of the rest of the park.

Buried to your left, the newest hive of activity: Rattlesnake. The small, tight pit that this mouse is buried in is surrounded in reasonably foreign looking foliage, with the brown dirt coloured track diving in and out of a ramshackle shed style structure that is built into the ride.

At the top of the ride, the four passenger cars are ripped around the hairpin bends, deeper down cars jump up and over bunny-hops and small drops, with the station hidden out of view.

The queue is entered through a crumbing archway, before after two long zig-zags along half the length of the ride, past some lifeless animatronic figures, all of which are looking worse for wear, before a steep staircase takes you down to the bottom of the excavation under the lift-hill.

As you turn to the left, you are now parallel to a stretch of track that undulates sharply to your right before diving into the barn style building. You also enter this same building, and the track now climbs up above you before pulling sharply to the right out of view.

The queue pops briefly outside again giving you an opportunity to look up at the cars darting to and fro way above you on the hairpin stretch before you go into a dark cave.

There was a day where this was pitch black and you ran the risk of breaking an ankle in the deep gutter that is on each side of the weaving path. Thoughtfully more lighting has been added, however, since one lowly visitor put their chewing gum on the ceiling, several thousand others have followed suit. A couple of rattlesnakes hidden in small crannies may distract you from this mess, but I doubt it.

From here, you go through another shed, zig-zag a few times, more steps, and then you are in the station. The station consists of two one metre wide platforms, and as people stumble out the other side, cars are moved forward so that you may board.

The cars are far from comfortable, but it is a Wild Mouse and to be expected. The seat is probably about two inches high meaning you are virtually sitting on the floor. The lap bars are pushed down, and you discover you have more than enough to brace yourself from the ensuing onslaught of forces.

You are tyre driven to the right, engage on the lift and are then practically launched up to the top. At the top, you dip off to the right, before a long stretch builds you up to a reasonable speed. You are yanked off to the right around a 180-degree bend, another straight stretch, 180 to the left, and then you continue as you started a few more times.

Each curve is not too rough if you hold on, and after a more swooping clockwise turn around a water tower, you dive down a drop, bounce over a steep bunny-hop, climb up, disappear into a shed over the queue and turn to the right.

Another drop follows, and after the climb, a sharp jab from the brakes which is a lesson to those not holding on. You turn around a sharp turn to the right, another dip, another turn before another final drop hurling you into the equally violent final brakes that jerk you to a stop. You turn to the right and then as the bars pop up out of your way, you can leave the ride, passing the photo booth, screens of people welcome you back, all grimacing as they round the photo turn.

The ride is abysmal with regards to capacity. It can run a maximum of eight cars, and normally with two in various states of disrepair, six more often than not run, meaning queues of in excess of three-quarters of an hour.

For a good ride, fine. This is a Wild Mouse though, and whilst after a fifteen minute queue you would come off satisfied (still not bubbling with enthusiasm), after an hour of queuing and a minute of predictable, off the shelf manoeuvres that you can experience at a good fair, you would be quite right to be dismayed.

Rattlesnake is a much-needed investment that Chessington have needed to make for a while. It is a disappointment though that it is such an un-original ride, and one of such a low capacity offering a mediocre-to-poor ride at the expense of nearly an hour of queuing.

It hardly fills a gap either. Chessington already has a fun family coaster, the Vampire, and for something a little less overwhelming, the Runaway Mine Train more than fills the gap. It is too much to expect a white knuckle coaster, Chessington will never get one, but it lacks creativity in a situation they could have really used some imagination. The result is a diffident and meek ride that would suffice with a short queue, yet does anything but with such a long wait.

2/5 Marcus Sheen 


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