THEY SAY: Drayton Manor features some of the biggest, wettest and scariest rides around! There’s also a host of fantastic family entertainment and Drayton Zoo.
WE SAY: A fab day out. Well worth a visit, even if your children are not particularly into Thomas the Tank.
THOMAS LAND AT CHRISTMAS
Thomas Land at Christmas is magical. Fact. We had such a fantastic time in December 2014 that we went back in 2015 – and I don’t even like going to the same place twice!
You will find Thomas Land in the Drayton Manor theme park. At Christmas and February half term Thomas Land is open, as well as a few smaller rides from the main park.
The first time we went, in 2014, as we walked into Drayton Manor, Bing Crosby’s White Christmas was playing and I instantly felt festive.
The kids had already clocked the huge Christmas tree, which was lit up in the distance, changing colour as we passed, and they could hardly contain their excitement.
We were one of the first families to arrive in the park that morning because we had stayed over in the Drayton Manor Hotel the previous evening. Click here to view a map of the park.
Thomas Land boasts 12 themed rides, but at Christmas there’s also others in Drayton Manor open including the carousel, dodgems and big wheel. There is also an indoor play area, a 4D cinema, and it will grow with an expansion due to open next year.
Everywhere we went there was Christmas music and lights and beautiful trees and decorations and great lenghts had been gone to with the fake snow – to the point every tree was covered which really added to the magic.
I was impressed at the amount of outdoor patio heater areas to keep everyone warm and the staff on every ride were helpful and friendly.
TIP: There’s plenty of outdoor seating so you’re welcome to take a picnic
My son, Oliver, was so impressed Thomas the Tank had a red shiny nose and loved watching him on his turntable.
We joined in with a live show with the Fat Controller and his friends who sang Walking In A Winter Wonderland from the station balcony – now if that doesn’t make you feel festive, nothing will.
Snow also falls at least three times a day in Thomas Land over the Christmas period, mulled wine is on offer and there is also an ice skating rink (charged extra at £2 per person).
We also paid extra to meet Father Christmas in his Castle of Dreams, which was a lovely experience. You can pre-book and that way are given a time to join the queue to save time.
Santa really took his time with us and asked lots of questions and we brought home a special gift – a lovely keepsake Drayton Manor snow globe.
In 2015 we actually visited after Christmas. I admit it was a little strange seeing Santa after the big day – I’ve never done that before. I did think about not bothering going to see him, but the Castle Of Dreams is so impressive, and it was included in the ticket price, so we went inside and I’m so glad we did.
Instead of the usual, “What would you like for Christmas?” conversations, Santa asked all about our Christmas, and he told the children the three secrets to Christmas.
He asked them to close their eyes and then, while he told them the secrets, he dropped a present into their hands.
Aged two, five, seven and nine, my children and niece and nephew all thought he was truly magical.
And before home time, there is also a magical fireworks display.
TIP: Book online to save a lot of money. Print your tickets and go straight to the gates when you arrive. There’s no need to join the queue at the ticket booths if you have printed your tickets.
I think Oliver’s favourite was Terence’s driving school, where he could ride the engine around the yard himself.
He also loved Harold’s helicopter tours and steering Sodor’s classic cars. Since our visit in 2014, there’s a whole new area in Thomas Land with plenty of new rides. To read about the expansion, click here.
But it’s more than just rides, there is also a zoo home to 100 animals from all over the world, including endangered species. We even saw reindeer.
There is also a dino trail, which Oliver absolutely loved and wanted to know what each dinosaur was called.
I think we will definitely go back in summer next year, when it will look different again. It will be worth the journey back to experience all rides, including water slides, the big wheel, dodgems, chairlift and live shows – to name a few.
Staying over at the Drayton Manor Hotel really made our into a proper mini-brea.
When we arrived at the hotel, just a stone’s throw from the entrance to the theme park, the kids were given a bag full of goodies, including a teddy bear and Thomas book and were able to get excited about the next day ahead, having seen all the train displays in the hotel.
I’d thoroughly recommend staying over, the hotel is four star and was more like a business hotel and actually hosts weddings – much better than some I’ve stayed in at other large theme parks. Parking is free.
Despite being contemporary and stylish, it’s obviously well catered for children.
Mine enjoyed playing with the trains table in the restaurant, which kept them amused while we waited for our food. Just one bit of advice though, either take your own train for the track, or rent one for £10 deposit, but get it from reception before you sit down to dinner, as they don’t have them in the restaurant.
It’s not cheep and cheerful – the food is of a high standard, with duck and steak on the menu, to name just a couple of choices.
There’s also camping and caravaning options. Click here for details.
Location, times, prices, facilities and weblink
LOCATION: Drayton Manor Park, Near Tamworth, Staffordshire. B78 3TW
PRICES: Cheaper online.
Winter Prices: Adults £15 (£30 on the gate), £10 for four to 11 year olds (£20 on the gate) and £5 for children aged two and under.
OPEN: Depends on season. Check website.
- Changing facilities in all toilets
- Nursing private cubicle at The Grill Inn
- Pushchair hire £6
- Nappies and other essential baby care items can be purchased from the Toy Shop
- Baby food can be purchased from Teashop, Knapford Station Café, First and Last coffee stop and Mrs Kyndley’s kitchen.
- First Aid centre
- Lost Property
- Lockers next to Emily’s playcentre. £1 for two hours.
- Cash Points at Guest Services
- Free Parking
CALL: 0844 4721950.
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