Drayton Manor is a family theme park set within 280 acres of parkland and around a large lake. The website promises rides and attractions for the whole family including Thomas Land, a zoo and a small farm.
~Drayton Manor - The Essential Information~
Drayton Manor is located in Tamworth, Staffordshire. The nearest train station is 3 miles away in Tamworth and buses run to the park (see website www.draytonmanor.co.uk for more details and directions). We were coming from Sutton Coldfield in the outskirts of Birmingham and simply typed the postcode (B78 3SA) into the Sat Nav. The park is in the middle of nowhere and we had to pass through fields to get there but it is easy to find.
There is an onsite hotel (which is very expensive) and the website offers alternative accommodation suggestions should you wish to stay in the area. Car parking is £3.00 and the car park is a large field. We found there to be sufficient spaces despite being busy. The park is fully open from March until November but Thomas Land is open during the festive season (certain times) and there are special events which allows the park to be open at various times throughout the year.
The opening times vary so check ahead. During the season, the gates normally open around 9.30am (rides start at 10.30am) and closes from 5pm onwards. The park welcomes school groups and also wheelchair users (wheelchairs can be hired). Lockers are available within the park and also cash machines - charges apply.
Tickets can be booked online from www.draytonmanor.co.uk. They currently offer a Summer discount if you pre-book and this is applicable until 09/09/12. A £3.50 booking fee will be applied. We booked online and found the website to be user friendly. I paid using my debit card and received an invoice - both had to be shown at the gates before entering. The current prices are shown below but I have put the regular (at the gates) prices in brackets.
*Adult (over the age of 12) - £20.00 (£36.00)
*Child (aged 4 - 11) - £12.00 (£25.00)
*Over 60 - £12.00 (£19.00)
*Under 4 - free (£12.00 normally for 2-3yrs)
*Car parking - free (normally £3.00)
They also offer special deals for parents and toddlers when the schools are in. Online tickets are covered by a guarantee which allows you to return for free another day if it rains for more than hour during your visit.
My 4 yr old is Thomas the Tank crazy so when my his uncle asked if he wanted to go to Thomas Land he was over the moon. For months we have looked at the ride videos on Youtube and a few weeks ago we booked our tickets online. We arrived at the park around 10.15am on a Monday morning and had no issues with getting parked. Thankfully, it was a really warm day and the rained stayed away. The park was very busy as it was the first day of the school holidays in England.
To say we enjoyed our visit would be an understatement - we loved it! We do like theme parks but rarely visit as we only have one rather small one nearby us. The park itself is mainly clean and well laid out. It is quite big but not as big as Alton Towers according my fiance. It is easy to walk around and everything is well signposted. It is mainly on the flat so disabled visitors and those with prams will have no issues there. The lake in the middle of the park is huge but not the cleanest looking. The park is open to the elements but large trees surround the rides and give it an enclosed feel.
We paid £95.00 for our tickets (4 adults, 1 child and a booking fee) which I feel is good value though full price would have worked out at nearly double this. We spent all day in the park and left at 6pm when it was closing but would have gladly stayed longer if it had been open later. During our visit, we explored the different areas of the park as a group and also myself and my fiance went around ourselves whilst my son went with his aunt and uncle for a while.
The best way for me to review Drayton Manor is to talk about the different areas of the park, what we were told to expect and how much fun we had (and money we spent!). You may be here a while so relax with a cuppa...
Thomas the Tank is a classic and if your child is a fan, they will find this area to be absolutely magical - it was worth the admissions cost on its own to see my son so happy to be there! As you would expect, Thomas Land is mainly for young children although older children and adults are welcome to go on the rides. There are height restrictions and the staff do stick to them though my son was able to go on just about everything. Some he was allowed on by himself whilst others required an adult.
Thomas Land features 15 main attractions set across quite a large area and we were able to move around freely despite there being hundreds of excited children running around. The staff in this area were friendly. On the hour shows were performed at Knapford Station with the Fat Controller. This was fun and entertaining though we found this to be the best time for going on the rides as they tended to be less busy!
*Knapford Station - the heart of Thomas Land and it really is a little train station. During our visit, Percy was out of action but Rosie and Thomas came to pull the customers around the track. We had to queue around 10 minutes to get on the train but it was worth it. My son was totally amazed at the life like trains. The train took us around the track to Farmer McColls farm.
*Jeremy Jet - my son loved this ride as he got to control if Jeremy flew up in the air or came in for a neat landing. I got to go on this one too and we really enjoyed it.
*Diesels Locomotion Mayhem - various trucks on a figure of 8 ride where they go very fast and just miss crashing into each other. We went on this a few times as my son fell in love with the Mavis truck. It did make Mummy dizzy though!
*Harold's Helicopter Tours - a short ride up into the air on Harold. Daddy got to go on this one and both my boys confirmed it goes high - they could see most of the park!
*Crazy Bertie Bus - Bertie takes the children high up into the air. My son loved this ride as the bar tickled his tummy.
*Sodor Classic Cars - my son could go on this one himself and drive around the track, passing through the gift shop.
*Troublesome Trucks Rollercoaster - this 220m rollercoaster broke down before we had a chance to go on it which was disappointing as it looked fun. It was the fastest ride in the park.
Other rides include Cranky Crane Drop Tower and Rocking Bulstrode which my son refused to go on but they looked fun. A few rides were more suited to very young children including Lady's Carousel and Blue Mountain Engines as they didn't go quite as fast. Thomas Land also has an exhibition centre which has a huge and impressive train set behind glass panels. An outdoor play area featuring Spencer is located near the farm and was huge. My son loved Emily's Indoor Play Area which offered 15minute sessions. It was fab - a massive play centre with the popular trains and various chutes. I was just disappointed that I didn't get to go in...
There were a few stalls in Thomas Land where you could win teddies and we spent a fortune without winning. There was also a sweetie shop and a photo shop (this was closed for some reason). The toy shop was a big hit with my son and every display unit was packed full of Thomas merchandise at over inflated prices. We did have a budget to stick to but wanted to treat Boo. In the end he bought a Ferdinand (one of the new engines) train, a Belle train, a door plague, a snowdome (£4.00) and a few pencils which came to around £30.00. Any Thomas toy or product you could ever want was there and if we had more money, I could have easily bought the entire shop!
We visited the toilets in Thomas Land and found them to be ok - nothing special. We also popped into Knapford Station Cafe for some ice cream (£2.00 each - very expensive). They offer a range of cakes and panninis (£4.00) in here. The food looked delicious and was cooked fresh. I only wish I had bought a cupcake but I forgot to go back and get one.
Overall we can highly recommend Thomas Land. The rides were excellent though my son was disappointing Gordon didn't have his own ride. We took hundreds of pictures and my son happily posed with the engine displays around the makeshift Tidmouth Sheds. I would like to go back for the Christmas special days here as it would be absolutely amazing.
~The Main Park~
The main park mainly offers rides aimed at adults but we did witness young children (5 and 6) going on some of the much bigger rides. The smaller rides include a carousel which is very outdated and needs replaced in my opinion. There is a big wheel to the back of the park which took us on a short ride before closing time and also a boat which goes out on the lake. A chair lift takes you over the water to the other end of the park but did not look safe to me and I have a fear of them anyway so avoided!
There is a train which takes your around part of the park but this was closed for most of the day as was the Splash Canyon ride and the Buffalo Coaster which was quite disappointing. The rides are well laid out and look safe. The ride operators were very vigilant when it came to checking heights and ensuring everyone was secured in their seats properly.
The choice of rides on offer at Drayton Manor is quite good providing they are all open. We did need to wait up to 25 minutes for some rides whilst others had only a small queue. A few of the rides (G Force and Ben 10) require you to wait in a queue inside and it became so warm that I felt claustrophobic. The few big rides that are there are over and done with in minutes but are well worth it in my opinion.
*G Force was opened in 2005 and the maximum speed of this rollercoaster is 70kph. I was literally terrified of going on this but my fiance convinced me. I found the stomach bar to be overly tight (but I'm certainly no size 8). There is nothing over your head to hold you in - only a lap bar which is fine on most rollercoasters but this one goes upside down twice and the first loop is very slow so I thought I was going to fall out my seat..I did survive to tell the tale though I have no idea how under 10s cope with this!
*Apocalypse opened in 2000 and is a drop tower ride which allows the option of standing up or sitting down - I chose the latter and dropped 48m in a matter of seconds. I felt ill but the view from the top was brilliant. This is much better than the Iceblast at Blackpool Pleasure Beach and is definitely a thrill ride.
*Shockwave - Europes only standing up rollercoaster which opened in 1994. This ride spans 500m and no amount of convincing would get me on it. My brave fiance survived it though. I simply cannot go on rides which require me to stand up. I watched from below as it sped around the track and was literally terrified!
*The Bounty - ahoy there! All aboard this pirate ship which swings at a 75degree angle. I was suprised at how thrilling this ride actually was. It is located right next to the lake and it did feel like the boat was ready to go upside down as it swung from side to side. Very impressive and for all ages by the looks of it!
*Ben 10 - the newest ride (2012) to open and the queues confirmed this. Whilst I have heard of Ben 10, I do not know much about the characters but found the layout of the waiting area to be rather cool but not for those who cannot handle light effects etc. Ben 10 is a rollercoaster which appeared to be popular with all ages and particularly families. My stomach didn't like this ride and i felt like I was going to be sick but this may be down to the fact that I've not been on many rollercoasters recently. The carriage goes backwards before shooting your around a track and then back again - backwards. Impressive stuff but not worth the 30 minute wait.
*Stormforce 10 - the water ride and the one which I was most looking forward to going on as it looked absolutely awesome! Opened in 1999, this water ride sits 8 people per boat and features back drops down hills and lots and lots of (not so pleasant smelling) water. Ponchos were available but that is no fun. The drops were brilliant and as well as getting absolutely soaked ourselves, spectators got soaked too which made it even more fun! Thankfully it was sunny so we dried in nicely!
Other rides include the Flying Dutchman (speedy boats which fly around attatched to cords), Wild West Shootout (we didn't enjoy this - it was boring) and a few pirate themed rides. My fiance braved Pandemonium which is a doubled armed swing which goes upside down and also Maelstrom which is a gyro swing which faces out the way - not for me but definitely for the more adventurous!
We did enjoy the rides though if you are used to Alton Towers and Thorpe Park, you may leave unimpressed with the thrill side of the rides that Drayton Manor offer. If Drayton Manor ever decide to extend the park, some more family rides (for adults and children aged 5-10 and not Thomas fans) would be fantastic but the layout and attractions on offer is really good as it is.
~Eating and Drinking~
There are many eating establishments dotted around the park including a Pizza restaurant (which my brother and law and his fiancee sampled on their last visit in April and enjoyed), cafes and even proper restaurants such as the Grill Inn. We purchased bottles of juice for around £1.50 in the park and did try out Knapford Station for ice cream. We had lunch at a burger cafe in the centre of the park and paid around £17.00 for 2 adult burger meals and a childs meal. The food wasn't brilliant but was ok if a bit expensive.
We did notice that a few of the kiosks towards the back of the park weren't open which was disappointing and we had to walk quite a bit to the next shop for some juice. There are various eating options to suit most tastes but personally, I would recommend taking a picnic and finding a bench to sit at.
~The Farm and The Zoo~
McColls Farm is far from the entrance to the park and can be reached by either walking around or catching Thomas or Rosie at Knapford Station. We didn't really find the farm that impressive. We spotted a few ostriches and some ducks but I wouldn't exactly call it a farm. We did spot a plastic cow though..There is a dino trail in this area which we avoided as my son is literally terrified of dinosaurs.
The zoo isn't massive but does add an extra 'attraction' to the Drayton Manor profile. The animals were in enclosures so avoid any mishaps but the majority of them didn't want to come out to see us including the lynx and the tiger which was disappointment. We understoon though as it was simply too hot. The penguins also didn't come out and there was no water out for them so perhaps none there? We did spot some interesting birds including one who liked to grab our attention and say hello.
The marmosets performed and were very active. We noticed a rather lazy animal which resembled an oversized, fat cat and I was curious at to why a cat which looks like my neighbours cat was doing in the zoo. My sister in law informed me it was a different type of cat but it would be easy to mistake it for a regular cat! The enclosures appeared clean and tidy and we spent a short while in this area.
~Other Attractions and Shops~
The 4D cinema in the park was impressive and showed The Little Prince which we enjoyed. The park has a few amusement arcades with paying machines, teddy grabbers and the likes and we visited one in the centre of the park. There is the opportunity to win huge teddies at a cost from various kiosks. The visitor centre is also in the centre of the park but we didn't have any need to go in there.
As well as spending some money in the Thomas shop, we went into the toy shop where my sister in law bought a few bits for her neices. This stocked Hello Kitty, Moshi Monsters etc and was expensive. Myself and Boo went to the sweetie shop and bought some rock (3 for £1.25) for his cousins but everything else was expensive including the pick and mix. We also visited the gift shop outside the park and he bought some chocolate and a Thomas flag. The toilets around the park are decent enough but quite a lot of them were shut.
Overall we can highly recommend Drayton Manor. It is expensive but worth it in my opinion. We spent around £200 in the park between the 5 of us (including the ticket cost) so it wasn't cheap but it was a late birthday present for our son. It isn't without faults but these faults are minor. We didn't need to show our car park ticket on the way out but this may not always be the case.
5 stars overall - we will return!
Thanks for reading :)
I'm a big fan of theme parks and fairground amusements in general, and it seems my daughters have followed suit. I try to visit at least one UK theme park every year, and this year we choose to go to Drayton Manor Park in Staffordshire. I wanted to go here for two reasons, firstly it is home to Thomasland, a part of the park themed around the Thomas and Friends franchise which would be a lovely treat for my Thomas-mad eldest daughter. Secondly, purely for selfish reasons, I'm a big roller coaster nut and have been wanting to ride The Shockwave, the parks signature ride, for many years. I made it a small break, and took a few members of my family along. Here are my thoughts of this wonderful place hidden away in the midlands. (Apologies for the length of this review, but I just wanted to get everything in!)
--Meanwhile, Just South of Tamworth...--
Most people looking to visit a theme park travelling to Staffordshire automatically think Alton Towers, but Drayton Manor Park is a mere 10 miles south of Tamworth and offers a slightly lower key experience but with all the entertainment needed. Like Alton Towers, it is built on a site of a former stately home in the village of Drayton Bassett, just next to the small town perish of Fazeley. During the 19th century, this was home to the former British Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel. At the beginning of the 20th century however, the Manor fell into disrepair and was demolished in 1929, the land sold off for private investment. It opened as a zoo and gardens in 1949, grew steadily into an amusement park and in 1994 some big changes were made to make it compete with the rapid expansion of other theme parks around the country, such as Alton Towers, Thorpe Park and Chessington World of Adventures.
Part of this development was the four million pound investment of a world's first roller coaster and a family water ride. Since then, more big rides and attractions have been added, making it a mecca for not only families but thrill seekers alike. The main draws to the park are the rides Shockwave, Stormforce 10, G-Force and Apocalypse, and primary family interests lie with Pirates Adventure, Ben 10: Ultimate Mission roller coaster and the exclusive Thomasland area of the park. These attractions make it a very favourable place to visit as an alternative to Alton Towers.
--Getting There, Parking and Prices--
If you are travelling up from the south, you can take the M40, picking up the M42 coming off at Junction 9 (Don't miss this, you will end up on the M6 Toll!) and follow the A446 northbound following signs to the park, the main entrance in the left. If coming from the north, take the M1, coming off at Junction 19 onto the M6 towards Coventry and Birmingham. Pick up M42 again and it's the same directions as is from the south. It's quite easy to find once you are on the main road which passes the park, (A4091) as it is sign posted adequately at major intersections and the main gate is brightly signed with the park's Yellow, blue and red logo too. Getting there by train would be a case of arriving at Tamworth, and catching the local bus to Fazeley or taking a taxi to the park.
~~Drayton Manor Theme Park, Near Tamworth/Fazeley, Staffordshire, B78 3TW~~
The main entrance leads down a narrow road to the car parks, theme park entry stalls and the Drayton Manor Hotel. We arrived very early before the park opened at 9.30, and got a great parking spot just outside the ticket booths. There is room for a few hundred cars in this area, plus a larger overflow car park close by too for several hundred more cars, however parking here you will have a short walk to the parks gates. At busy times, marshalls are at hand to guide you to a parking space. The car parks were very clean and tidy, if not all that clearly marked, so use a bit of common sense when parking, you don't want to get blocked in upon leaving. Car parking tickets are needed, but are only £3 for the entire day, and can be purchased either in advance or on the day at the same price. There is also a camping area available, but this has to be booked in advance.
As with all theme parks, prices can be a little expensive, but Drayton Manor is one of the more kindly theme parks to the pocket. Peak times are in the late Spring to early Autumn months, and an adult ticket will cost £36 on the day, £25 for age 4 and up, £12 for age 2 to 4 and under 2's go free. Senior prices are £19. All these prices are much cheaper if you pre-book on-line, with an adult ticket coming down to a possible £22 depending on date. (School holiday times are more expensive than term times). With the on-line booking I did, I paid £132 for 4 adults, 1 senior, 1 age 4 and up and 2 parking tickets. It would have cost a lot more if I had not booked before hand, so this is a must do thing!
Be mindful of the parks hours of business too, so you can get the maximum for your money. Arrive early before the park opens, and leave just before the rides close. In the summer peak times, the park opens at 9.30 with the rides opening a hour later, and stay open until 5pm at least, sometimes keeping running until 6 depending on how busy it is. Planning is essential to make the most of the day. We visited on the wednesday just before the spring/summer half term, resulting in cheaper prices and a very un-crowded park. It was a lovely sunny day too, perfect!
~~Total Family Entertainment - Drayton Manor Theme Park Slogan~~
--Thomasland - Sodor in Miniature!--
Perhaps one of the most significant attractions to be placed into the park in recent times is Thomasland, and this is a big focal point for many families with young children. Replacing the old Robinsons Land area in 2008, Drayton Manor secured the rights to build a miniature Sodor from the Thomas and Friends franchise. Located immediately to the left upon entering the park, Thomasland is bordered off from the main park with two entrances and feature familiar buildings, names and characters from the show. The whole area is centred around a miniature Knapford Station, and the rear part surrounds a pseudo Tidmouth Sheds housing models of the steam engine characters. Jolly music constantly plays from the balcony of Knapford Station taken from the show, films and also purposely made for the attraction. This can sometimes get annoying, and maybe a little to loud in volume on some tracks. The layout is simple, with rides and stalls placed apart, giving plenty of room at the front of the area. I thought the rear part could get a little congested in busy times however, as this is where the popular Cranky the Crane and Harold's Heli-tours is. The area is all faithfully painted and decorated accordingly in the Thomas theme, and very little behind the scenes stuff is visible. This makes it very convincing for a child's eyes, and even to an adults too, it all brings a smile to your face and creates comfortable and happy feeling.
There is a considerable amount of rides packed into such a small area, three acres I believe, all without feeling to compact. Overall, there are twelve rides in this area and another at the other end of the train line. Most are perfect for a 3 and up year old, but there are height restrictions on some rides. The mixture is good too for all lower ages. Mild rides like Lady's Carousal, Blue Mountain Engines and Sodor Classic Cars are great the under two's, rides like Rockin' Bulstrode, Diesel's Locomotion Mayhem and Crazy Bertie Bus are for the older and more adventurous, and then you have the rides for the most daring children with Harold's Heli-tours, Jeremy's Flying Academy and the Troublesome Trucks roller coaster, the most adventurous can ride on the 8 metre tall Cranky the Crane drop tower! All rides are themed beautifully both in appearance and sounds, and with the added game and sweet stalls, static models and friendly actors playing the human characters. I found the staff, who are dressed in Thomas and Friends attire, mostly well mannered and cheery, and the whole area quite child safe. There are baby-changing and child toilets available, which are clean and tidy, just as is the rest of the area. Every now the then, there is a song and dance show performed by the actors from the Knapford Balcony, this is also fun for the family in the pantomime way of things. On our visit, we didn't visit Emily's Indoor play area, but this is a typical soft play area not unlike a Wacky Warehouse. As predicted, the prices for food and drink both here and around the main park are rather inflated, so don't expect any cheap drinks. Bring a packed lunch, as the park don't mind this at all and there areas that accommodate picnicking with welcome.
--Thomas Train Ride and Farmer McColls Farm--
The highlight of Thomasland is of course riding Thomas himself on-board Annie and Clarabel to Tidmouth Hault station where Farmer McColls Farm is located. This is housed inside the wonderfully themed Knapford Station building, (which also is home to the adult rest area and coffee bar). Normally, two trains run every ten minutes, and these can be either Thomas, Percy or Rosie. Unfortunately, Rosie was only running in the morning we spent in Thomasland (we were told Thomas and Percy were having work done in the sheds), so this meant a 20 minute wait for the short train journey. This was not a problem as there was lots to see and do whilst waiting for the train. The actual engines are small diesel powered models of the characters, but are very well presented with the right colours and moving eyes. It's only a short ride through the woodland, passing the maintenance sheds (where we saw Thomas and Percy being painted, and the station of Dryaw with it's model people. The seats in the carriages have enough space for the adults, and there are buggy and pram spaces for convenience too. It's a pleasant little journey, and before you know it your at Tidmouth Hault Station, where you have to alight. It's a shame that Thomas himself wasn't running at that time as my daughter was a little disappointed, but on the trip back he was back on the tracks and so passed him on the return to Knapford, and saw him turn on the turntable too.
At Tidmouth Hault is the Farmer McColls Farm themed area, where there is another adult rest area cafe, a well kept zoo with interesting and exotic animals, Spencer's outdoor play area, a dinosaur trail area, Terrance's Driving School ride and a Thomas and Friends Exhibit. I found this a more relaxing area of Thomasland, there is plenty of space as the train ride naturally limits and amount of people in the area. Also, families like to choose to picnic here, with the many picnic tables placed around the cafe and serene trickling stream which flows though the middle. Of course, many of the animals are in enclosures which are safe without wandering toddler fingers, particularly the Emu's and Ostriches. Pathways clearly mark the zoo parts, and intertwine with the play area's. I found the outdoor play area, consisting of slides, climbing frames, and wooden platforms great fun for my youngest while my eldest had fun on her own. It's all wood chipped based and is rather safe for most active 4 and up year old's. It's not as clean and tidy as the main Thomasland area because of it's nature as a zoo, but again it's well themed and fun. The Terrance's Driving School is also good for an older child, as they have to drive the tractor models themselves, but a kindly instructor/attendant was at hand help. My daughter loved this because is was a very independent activity. The Thomas Exhibit is a large converted shed housing real models from the original series, which is also rather interesting and absorbing, but maybe difficult for the children to fully appreciate. The only negative about this part of the park was a rather sickly looking cat sleeping on one of the display shelves, odd, but I think it was a stray looking for a place to dwell.
--Troublesome Trucks Rollercoaster--
Back in the primary area of Thomasland, and second only to the Thomas train in terms of prevalence is the Troublesome Trucks roller coaster ride. It's entrance is on the opposite 'platform' of Knapford station, on the left side of the park, and is a little tucked away so can be missed easily. The ride itself is a small steel Gerstlauer coaster, which takes a small weaving course out of the boarding platform, up a 18 foot lift hill and descends in a double spiral and a sharp turn back into the loading bay, and then repeats for a second circuit. The cars are modelled like the trucks from the Thomas series with their familiar cheeky faces, and the whole ride is well themed like a small quarry in Sodor. As a more mild coaster, it can still get quite quick down the spirals and pulls some lateral G forces on the last turn too. The cars are a good size for a 4 and up, and also have enough room for a average sized adult too. The lap bar restraints are secure and mostly comfortable. Adventurous for some maybe, but it's all great fun and my daughter loved it. Children have to be over 0.9 of a metre to ride however, like many other rides in Thomasland, so take note of this to avoid any disappointed offspring.
--The Main Theme Park--
As with all good theme parks, the main part of the park is separated into themed areas with all the rides and stalls following any given theme. Unlike other theme parks I have visited, the layout is very simple, like a large L shape hugging the side of the lake. With clear and frequent sign posting, colourful stalls and marked queue lines, this makes it very easy to find your way around. It can be a little confusing with some of the rides so close together, but this is small issue. The Central Plaza with it's general colours following the logo design is the hub of things, which mostly includes shops, stalls and an alternative entrance to the zoo. Not every different themed area is obviously marked off from each other, but the colours of the signs and buildings theming generally gives it away, with the most popular area's being Action Park, Fisherman's Wharf and Arial Park, which can get very busy at peak times. Some of the rides operate above or around the pathways, so always be wary of this. Maelstrom and Pandemonium are fun to watch from these places but you have to be aware of what may fall down, and the Drayton Manor Railway 'Polperro Express' runs over walkways with small signal alarms alerting you to the oncoming trains. Typical fairground games, arcades and amusements are placed around the park, all have to be paid for independently, some for prize winning and some just for fun. It's a mixture of ball throwing games, hoopla, arrow and shooting, and the arcades include coin-push machines and grab-crane games, so there is plenty of options. Some of these, like the Wild West Shoot out could do with a bit of refurbishment I feel.
There was reports a few years back about the general poor cleanliness of the park's walkways, lake and grasslands. This has been rectified it seems as I found the park mostly clean and tidy, with many covered litter bins scattered around, the lake free from floating litter and the grasslands rather neat too, albeit maybe a little overgrown in places. With certain rides, this overgrowth was more obvious, like nettles and reeds growing around Stormforce and Splash Canyon while on-ride. There are many picnic tables dotted around, mostly by the lakeside, and also many benches and resting points nearby the main attractions. These are all in a fair condition too, but most are uncovered. Covered area's are confined to the cafe's and eateries. As you can imagine, the noise levels massively vary from area to area, don't expect it to be too peaceful sitting in Arial Park, but there are plenty of places around the lake that are far enough away from the screams and music to relax your ears a bit, or failing that take a trip on the Drayton Queen, an old style cruise paddle-boat around the lake for some peace and quiet.
Built in 1994, this was part of the '94 blitz of expensive ground-breaking roller coasters built all over England. (The others were The Big One at Blackpool, and Nemesis at Alton Towers) The Shockwave is a stand-up over track steel coaster which includes a vertical loop, two barrel rolls and a heart-line twist, the only stand-up coaster in the world to have this element. Built by Swiss manufacturer Intamin, it's only 120 feet high, but picks up to an impressive top speed of 53mph and is still the only stand-up roller coaster in Europe. Themed around a coastal town ruined my a storm in the Action Park area, wooden shacks and damaged houses are home to the boarding platform and extensive indoor queue line. This is all presented well, even if some of the theming is clearly ageing a tad. For a ride coming up to nearly 20 years old though, it's all been kept well, and the ride itself is definitely still an adrenalin gusher, the stand-up aspect being quite unique. However, it's not the smoothest of coasters I have ridden! The position of standing can be a little awkward to get comfortable in, being short or having wider hips can make even getting into the restraints difficult. As a flagship ride for the park, it's still stands out and is very popular, and the other big rides also help to ease the pressure off it now. It was constructed simultaneously with Splash Canyon, a river rapids ride which is directly underneath most of the track, which makes things even more fun for riders on both attractions. Ageing maybe, but Shockwave for me goes down as a classic and is a must-ride if you like your roller coasters.
Replacing the tired Log Flume that came before it, Stormforce 10 is another record breaking ride for vastly different reasons. It was the first 'charitable' ride, designed and themed around an RNLI lifeboat rescue mission, with a percentage of merchandise and on-ride photograph sales being donated to the RNLI. Built in 1999 as part of the ongoing enhancement of Drayton Manor, Stormforce 10 is a water flume type ride based at the lakeside, using the lake water for it's channels. It differs from other flume rides in a few ways however. Firstly, you get 'launched' from the station, as a lifeboat would, into a first splashdown. Then after travelling though waterfalls on either side you climb into a mock oil rig and then dropped BACKWARDS into another splashdown. After another calm sail around of some great theming of a crashed ship, you climb up the main drop to 60 feet and splashdown at the lakeside off a double bump drop! From the history to the experience itself, I love everything about this ride. It represents my favourite charity, it is themed brilliantly both in ride, station and queue line, and it's basically just so much fun. Take note however, some flume rides state you will get wet, on Stormforce, you WILL get soaked! Guaranteed! The only issues people may have with this are a few overgrown plants here and there, and the cleanliness and slight odour of the water. It is lake water after all. Apart from that, this is the best ride in the park that can cater for many ages, great for an adventurous family that don't mind a drenching!
I like to think I'm pretty fearless when it comes to thrill rides, only one has ever got the better of me and that sits on top on the Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas. However, the other ride up there was something I did go on, The Big Shot, and Apocalypse is an Intamin drop tower ride in the same vein. Okay, it's not over 1000 feet in the air, only a mere(?!) 177 feet, but it gives a sense of dread and foreboding about it in the way it looms over the park, a dark grey, dirty and evil looking contraption. Looking like a giant industrial machine, It has fives sides, and a variety of different ride positions. Sitting, standing or floorless! Drop tower rides lift you up to a maximum height, then suddenly drop you free-fall until breaks stop your decent, and Apocalypse is a fine example of how a simple ride themed correctly can create so much iilogical fear. The floorless aspect is of course another trigger, as is dropping into a building instead of open air. It did take me a while to wrench myself onto this, but after I did, it was not as bad as I thought it would be. You get the choice while queuing to opt for sitting for standing, with deliberate decay, metal fences and yellow warning signs displayed to fit the theme. High, yes. Fast, yes. Afraid, not really, but I would think some other people would be scared out of their wits! It's a brilliant psychological ride, dominating Drayton Manor's skyline like a watchful demon. It has been voted on numerous times as the best thrill ride in the UK, and is maybe the most popular ride for the thrill seekers.
~~Ben 10: Ultimate Mission~~
Drayton Manor have made a real attempt to get the balance of the park's rides as to cover the needs for an entire family unit, and this roller coaster was put in in 2011 to recognise that. It's a Vekoma Boomerang junior coaster based on the popular US cartoon network series Ben 10. As to bridge the gap from the tame Buffalo Roller Coaster to the thrills of G-Force, Ben 10: Ultimate mission gives the rider thrills without the scares. It's an impressive 66 feet tall, with no inversions but has fast banking turns and of course runs backwards. The track on this type of coaster doesn't complete a circuit, the train runs forwards, and then in reverse on the same track. I was surprised, but my daughter loved this, it even topped Thomasland for her, and she wanted to repeatedly keep going on it. Bright green in colour, with a grey futuristic building, it's the best themed ride in the park, totally on the money with the cartoon, both inside and out. The queue line has a darkly lit tunnel and maze, with neon lighting effects, whooshy alien sounds and interactive screens for the kids to pass the time. Models of the characters and aliens from the show are also presented, and while it may be a little scary for some, it's very effective and involving. Since the queue times can get long, this helps keep the restlessness at bay for while. Even for a hardened coaster nut like me, it's a very enjoyable ride, I went on it twice with my daughter. A height AND age restriction applies for Ben 10, your child has to be over 4 and at least 1 metre tall with an adult. As far as family thrill rides go, this is a first class example.
I have highlighted here some of the big attractions, but there are many many rides in Drayton Manor for all ages and tastes. It claims to have that balance right, I would guess they were pretty much correct. For extra thrills for the teens and the big kids (like me) there are rides like Maelstrom, Pandemonium and G-Force, the latter being a rare X-car roller coaster with a looped 'Humpty-bump' chain lift and with very tight twists and turns. It certainly looks impressive with its bright red track and power-station styled building standing my the park's main gates. I found it a good ride, but over far to quickly, looking better than it actually was. Medium family thrills can be found with rides like The Bounty, Buffalo Coaster and the Jolly Buccaneer. The Bounty is a fair sized pirate ship swing ride which is good for a laugh, and again very well themed mounted on a platform by the lakeside. The Jolly Buccaneer is a chasing roundabout bob-sleigh ride which gets quite fast indeed. Familiar fairground rides are available too, like a classic carousel and dodgems. More gentler rides include the Drayton Queen boat ride and the Polperro Express train, that takes a charming journey under and around Stormforce, Splash Canyon and Shockwave. There is a modern Big Wheel with closed carriages and the Chairlifts, that are both more chilled if heights are not a problem for you. (The Chairlifts were actually quite hairy for me!) There is of course the walk in attractions like the Pirates Adventure and The Haunting, the latter more for the older children as it's a classic adaptation of a haunted house ride.
For me, the park does live up to it's claims and provides a wide range of rides that all the family can get involved in. Even my 70 year old mother found rides like Polperro Express, Splash Canyon and Lady's Carousal very enjoyable, as did all the members of my family for different rides. This balance for me is only rivalled by Alton Towers, as all to often theme parks focus on one direction. All of the rides on the whole have been well maintained and are well presented, as I found very little problems to speak off really. I was a little disappointed about the Buffalo Coaster, that was closed halfway though the day because of a wasp nest to close to the tracks, and the Cranky the Crane also stopped working during the day, but apart from that, I can't think of many bad points about any of the rides at all. Maybe a little more attention to the landscaping and few paintwork touch up's possibly, but I feel that would be nitpicking.
--Other Observations and Details--
There are some things to take note of when visiting Drayton Manor, some just good planning and some small criticisms of the park. The information and help point (Guest Services) is located more or less in the middle of the park, and the young lady in attendance was cheerful and helpful. This is also where the only cash machine is in the entire park, and it's a chargeable link ATM too, so make sure you have plenty of cash with you for playing the side games and arcades, and the change is also handy for the 'Human Dryers' if you wish to dry off after Stormforce. Major cards are accepted for many of the cafe's, shops and refreshment stores, but not everywhere. As is the family nature of the park, cigarettes are not sold anywhere even though smoking is permitted in outdoor area's (prohibited in Thomasland of course). Alcoholic drinks are available in the hotel bars, but are not to be consumed in the park itself. I think this policy is all common sense and fitting to keep the parks family friendly atmosphere.
Of the few mentionable negatives I have about the park, some of the staff in the main park could be a little more attentive and more cheerful. Some of the rides have young people in summer jobs operating on them and while this is great that they are working, many trudge around with shoulders slumped with miserable faces. This is not great, but thankfully not all the staff are like this. I wasn't overly happy with the 2 young women operating G-Force however, one sat with her leg up on the control panel staring at her iPhone and chatting to the other who was checking the restraints. A few more staff of various ages were a bit lacklustre too, the operative of the Jolly Buccaneer didn't take note of a disabled rider, and could have stopped the ride by the exit gate but didn't, making the man walk around the ride. Like I said, this was not constant and on the whole the staff were well mannered and smartly dressed in the parks uniform, but some just could be a lot happier in their work. Another small issue for me is that there could be more toilets placed around the park, and sometimes having to walk quite a distance for a child can prove pant wettingly fatal, and the same goes for baby changing facilities. The ones that are there are kept relatively clean though, and no serious hygiene concerns at all.
Having been to a fair few theme parks over the years, Drayton Manor is right up there with the best of them. The layout of the park is not overly complicated and not to large either. You can get around to most things in a single day if it's not during the school holidays, and I would think that when things got busy, there is plenty to see and do to enjoy to break the waiting up. Obviously, in peak times queueing times would take a fair amount of time out of your day, that's why it's good sense to visit during quiet times. Even though it's not a big park, the amount of rides, amusements and stalls is impressive and its all well planned, maintained and organised. I keep on banging this drum, but the balance of rides to cater for the whole family spectrum is absolutely spot on, having the peaceful, the daring, the fun-loving and thrillseekers all mixed up nicely.
For the price you pay on-line, I think it's worth it, but maybe not on very busy days. The full price might be pushing it a bit, as are the predictable inflated prices of the food and drink. That said, the location, the zoo, Thomasland and with the many more attractions, it does provide a lot of activities, and marries this with a clean setting and good social atmosphere. I certainly felt more at ease and relaxed in Drayton Manor than I have been at Blackpool Pleasure Beach or Chessington. With good planning and perhaps a bit of luck with the weather, I would think you and your family would have a great day at here. We did, and at the end of the day we left tired but very satisfied and fulfilled, with nobody moaning about the few negatives I have mentioned. That's a very good sign for me, and I fully recommend Drayton Manor Theme Park for a tip top day out.
Thanks for Reading. © Novabug
**** This review is based on Thomas land situated in Drayton Manor ****
Once you enter the main gates of Drayton manor on the left hand side about a 2 minute walk is the entrance to Thomas land with grand gates building the excitement for little ones and once you enter these you are in the main heart of Thomas land itself.
All rides are situated in the same area apart from the odd few that are either accessible by riding the Thomas train or they are just outside the Thomas land entrance itself.
Thomas the Tank Engine - Riders less than 1 metre must be accompanied by an adult.
This is a train line that runs between the zoo area and the main heart area of Thomas land you can choose to ride Thomas, Percy or Rosie and all the family can go on this ride. There are different carriages to sit in and each carriage can sit around 6-8 people. If you have a buggy you have to fold it down and then it is stored at the back of the carriages where you collect it again once you get off.
You then embark on a 2 minute train ride that takes you through the zoo area until it reaches the next station where you have to alight. Even if you wish to do round trips back to the main area of Thomas land you must get off and wait in line again until the engine has turned around to take you back.
Terence's Driving School - Riders must be between 1 metre and 1.3 metres to ride
This is one of the rides that is out the main frame of rides but it is easily accessible by getting of Thomas at the zoo are where there is a museum of Thomas tracks, Terence driving school a huge play area and off course the animals them self.
Terence driving school is basically bumper carts with a difference as there is no bumping allowed. Each child chooses 1 engine to ride and they are all related to Terence and all the different tractors had different faces sad happy angry you name it of course my son went for the angry face. This is one of the longer rides and last around 2 -3 minutes and as there is around 7 tractors to ride it really does have short ques. This could be as it is out of the way down by the zoo so less people stayed in this area but my children loved it all the same.
There was a wide range of animals on show when we went in the summer and limited ones available to see for the Christmas special but each time to be honest my children were that excited by Thomas rides and anything Thomas related we got to spend all of 5 minutes looking at the animals.
The zoo contains birds, penguins, tigers, and meercats in total over 100 species and after the limited selection in the snowy weather at Christmas I hoped we would get to see them all in the summer but unfortunately my children were too interested in the play park.
Spencer's play park
This is a large wooden play area full of fun things for little one to climb over under up and around. There is a large wooden fence all the way around it with only a few entrances which means you can easily keep an eye on children even when it is rather busy. There is a lot to do for toddlers and upwards unfortunately my youngest son missed out again only being 14 months old as everything was climbing related there was not much for him to do. My one downside with this was it was laid with wood chip which yes a lot of parks were but this had a fair amount of mud and sand in twinned with it meaning when ever little one got on the floor which my children did a number of times they ended up covered in mud and muck not great when you're on a day trip and have the rest of the day to walk around with them looking like they have been rolling in mud.
Then we rode Thomas back to the main are of Thomas land where most of the rides are situated.
Harold's Helicopter Tours - Riders less than 1.05 metres must be accompanied by an adult. Only 2 adults per helicopter.
In all there are 10 carriages of linked off the Harold himself in the middle and once the ride is in operation you are flown around in a circle being lifted higher then lower over and over again. 4 People can sit in each cart which you are locked in with a bar and only 2 adults can ride per carriage.
This ride lasts about a minute and a half and was one of my children's favourites as accompanied by me all 3 were able to ride in it. The ride is not very fast so good for younger children although it does lift rather high so can still be an exciting thrill for them. While riding Harold you have a clear view of the whole of Thomas land so my children were planning which rides to go on next.
Cranky the Crane Drop Tower - Riders must be at least 0.95 metres tall to ride
This is basically seats that sit round the frame of cranky in a circle you have bars that lift over your head and hold you in then cranky raises you high in the sky and then drops you down. My daughter and youngest son were too small for this so daddy took Connor on for a ride.
I was worried because of the height that cranky rises up to and then drops very fast I knew he wouldn't like it but as he adores cranky of course he wanted to give it a go. As I suspected he hated it and cried all the way through it luckily the whole ride only last about a minute tops and then he had his feet firmly on the ground again he wasn't so daft next time and remembered what it was like although my daughter was then tall enough and she absolutely loved it.
Crazy Bertie Bus - Riders under 0.95 metres must be accompanied by an adult. Only one adult per row.
This ride is rocks back and forth and then up and over the top so again another high flying ride there are 10 rows on the bus which means the queue is kept low and as one of the longer rides maybe around 3 minutes it can be really fun. Again I was able to take my youngest son on with me and he seemed to enjoy it more than my 3 and 4 year old as they found it boring.
Troublesome Trucks Coaster - Riders must be over 0.9 metres to ride and riders less than 1.2 metres must be accompanied by an adult.
This is the only ride at Thomas land we did not go on my eldest son was the only one tall enough but he was too frightened by the look of it but it is basically as the title suggests a roller coaster aimed at young children but it does look very fast paced so one for the brave. This ride had the biggest queues both times we visited Thomas land and I was secretly pleased we did not have to wait in the 20 minute queue for a 3 minute ride.
Diesels Locomotion Mayhem - Riders less than 1.2 metres must be accompanied by an adult
These troublesome trucks spin you around in circles but the ride is designed to look like you are about to crash in to cart next to you which amused my children somewhat. It is rather face paced but not too adventurous so my younger children were able to enjoy it too. This ride last about 90 seconds although it feels like a lot longer after you have sat being swung around in circles over and over.
Rocking Bulstrode - Riders less than 1.05 metres must be accompanied by an adult. Only one adult per row
This is rather like a pirate ship it rocks you back and forth and in 360 degrees again my eldest son was the only one to go on this ride as my other two children were too young but this was a major hit with Connor he rode it again and again while my younger children had pictures taken with the rest of the engines.
Sodor Classic Cars - No height restriction but only one adult per car
This is a lovely slow paced ride that is what the name suggests you sit in a classic style car that is guided across rails on the road so the path way is set out for you it has steering wheels for little one to steer although these have no effect on the car and just there for amusement and this was actually the quietest ride my children were able to get off the ride to go straight back on it again the ride takes about 2 minutes in full and is a great ride for all the family.
Lady's Carousel - Riders under 0.9 metres must be accompanied by an adult. Only one adult per carriage or engine.
Both times we have been to Thomas land this ride has been out of action which is a shame because each time my daughter seen it she asked to ride. It is one of the rides that are aimed at younger children and it was a shame it was not in operation as my youngest son did not get to go on many rides and this would have been one suited to him.
Jeremy Jet - Riders less than 1 metre must be accompanied by an adult. Only two adults per jet
Fly High with Jeremy and control your flight over Sodor again this is a lot like Harold the helicopter you sit in the carriages where you are spun around in a circle and see the sights while you are flying my son went on this one by himself as my other two children were too tired for anymore rides and this is great for a final ride before leaving the park as it is situated just outside the Thomas land gates!
Emily's play area
This was one of our disappointments this is basically a soft play area that we were looking forward to taking our youngest son to as he was not able to go on many rides. When we got to door to find it locked to make sure there was no way out for children we were greeted by a rather rude lady who told us we had to leave the push chairs outside unsupervised at our own risks. We removed all valuables and knocked the door again only to be told the maximum amount of people were in there and we would have a 15 minute wait! So we waited patiently as now the children were desperate to go inside when finally we were let in. There was a tiny area for children under 2 to play with a few blocks that were too heavy for them to roll around while my elder two went and played in the larger soft play area. Within 5 minutes they had returned bored with the play area as my son said the one at home was much larger and had more slides.
The staffs was fantastic they all knew it was very child oriented and made sure they let this shine through there were staff near every ride we passed and a lot of them dressed up as characters from the show. The fat controller and his staff all stand at the entrance to Thomas land and are very happy indeed to sit and take pictures with anybody wanting them.
They always had smiley faces and they preformed shows 4 times a day at the station which was fun and entertaining to watch and let the children see their favourite characters in action.
There is a Thomas souvenir shop which we did enter to purchase hats and scarf's for the children but it was very expensive indeed in the summer months we attended. When we returned for the Christmas magic it seemed the prices had dropped nearly by half which seemed a little strange but maybe as there was less traffic passing though in the colder months. They have anything Thomas related you could possibly imagine and more including clothes, books toys and much more my children would have brought everything if they could but we safely diverted them away.
From what we could find there are only 1 set of toilets in Thomas land located up at the back by the shop, Creaky cranky and Harold the helicopter. There were child changing facilities, disabled toilets men's and women's toilets and a good few of them too to cope with the traffic you would expect they would receive. They were kept clean and there was always a member of staff floating around outside in that general area with signs asking if you seen any problems to report them and they would be dealt with quickly.
There were a number of stalls dotted round and about where you could pick up hot dogs candy floss sweets ad general snacks to eat and drink if needed. Then there are a few restaurants that all offer the same type of food which was mainly burgers and chips and other fast food. The second time we went we decided to eat there to spend more time in the park so off we went to get some food. The queues were atrocious I stood in line for around 25 minutes there was no real queuing system which meant people tried pushing and shoving and it was overly hot in there I felt like giving up. I finally got to the end of the line where I was greeted by a friendly member of staff so I ordered us each a meal at the cost of around £8 each. I was given the food quickly after I paid and then walked to find somewhere to sit. We then found there were actually very few seats for the amount of people queuing and had to squeeze in to a table for four.
Eating the food it was cheap horrible and really disappointing after the amount of time I had queued and the amount of money I had paid for it. I would seriously advise you to eat before you get there or take a pack lunch as otherwise you will have long waits for less than standard food and this really was a down point of our day.
There are different ways to get photos of course rather than taking your own digital camera one is the Thomas photo booth. Children have to stand within a small squared area highlighted by red tape and then you press the button on the booth and it takes a picture. Then you cross the way to the photo shop where the photo turns out magically with the children standing in the Thomas set with Thomas himself. This confused my children as it is just a brick wall where the photo is taken so they could not understand why they had not seen Thomas but it was a very cute photo all the same. These cost around £4 per copy and come presented in a small envelope so they do not get damaged.
Also on most rides there are cameras that automatically take pictures as the children are riding on them these can also be purchased from the photo shop and although we never bothered as at £4 a time it would be a very expensive addition it is nice to know they are there in case you would like them.
Both times we went to Thomas land both in December and July while school was still on it was fairly quiet and we were able to park within a 10 minute walk to the ride itself. Parking is free and is accessible to the park.
Drayton Manor Park is near Tamworth, Staffordshire on the A4091, close to Junction 9 of the M42.
Drayton Manor Park
Under 2 years old children get free entrance to the park. 2-3 year olds pay the small price of £3.50 4-11 year olds pay £25 and 12 years and plus pay £32. All tickets for Thomas land include entrance to all Drayton manor rides also and if you book online in advance you can get a 20% discount so that is the best way to book in my opinion.
We love it so much we have been there twice and if my children had their way we would be going again this year. The queues were surprisingly small although we did go in the middle of winter for the Christmas special and in the summer when the children were still at school (although Scottish schools had already broken up). We did not have to wait more than 5-6 minutes for any of the rides and many of the rides my children were able to get off run round and return again straight away.
There is so much to do that we actually missed a lot of the park the first time that we went so a second visit meant we were able to see everything again and more. You could easily go in the morning when it first opens and leave as it is finishing without being bored for one second.
You have access to the whole of Drayton manor with the tickets you purchase although when me and my partner snuck of for a ride while Aunty Sarah watched the children we found they had an hour and a half wait so we gave up on that idea. There are lots of amusements stalls and even a cinema doted around so if you did get bored with the rides there is plenty to explore.
Although it is aimed at small children and toddlers I found there was a limit of things to do for my youngest son who was only around 14 months old at the time but as he had free entry to the par I cannot really complain as there was still a few rides for him to go on.
The second time we went we took my niece and nephew who were 6 and 8 and they real enjoyed themselves although there was a few rides my niece was too big to go on there was still plenty for her to do so it is really suitable for a large age range.
I would recommend this to anyone for a lovely family day out and even more so for a Thomas fan although it seems expensive if a few adults are going with you as you are not using the rides or facilities to be honest to see my children's faces was worth every penny.
In June this year we had a look at the variety of Tesco rewards available and decided we would head towards Birmingham for Drayton Manor and Cadbury World (review to follow) We found a place to stay at the Travelodge on the M42 and were all set with Drayton Manor about 15 minutes away.
Tesco Clubcard rewards allow you to triple your usual Tesco Vouchers and therefore making them worth much more if you use them in this way, you have to exchange your vouchers over the Tesco internet site and they will send you your selection through the post for you to take to the attraction with you. We had to exchange £11 of Clubcard vouchers for each person to have a ticket into Drayton Manor so for the 2 adults and one child (don't have to pay for under 2s) it cost us £33 in vouchers.
The fees to get into Drayton manor if you pay on the day are,
Aged 12 - 64 years - £32.00
Aged 4-11 years - £25.00
Aged 2-3 years - £5.00
You can reduce the cost by getting family tickets of 3, 4 or 5 people or by booking your tickets in advance over the internet, as you can see it should have cost us £89 so we made quite a saving.
The park itself was very easy to find and was sign posted off the main road, when you arrive at Drayton manor there are sign posts for you to follow to the car park which is a quite narrow winding road through fields, trees and past streams which is quite nice to drive through. We found that parking was very easy and that there seemed to be plenty of overflow spaces there was also a large disabled car park right near the gates.
We arrived for the park opening at 9.30am although the rides don't actually start until 10.30am, there are a set of toilets outside of the park to allow you to get sorted before children see the rides and there are three little square buildings with a window on each side for you to purchase your tickets or to exchange your Tesco vouchers. You have to have a ticket for babies even though you don't pay for them or they are not allowed into the park.
On entering the park you go through the usual turnstile area with staff checking your tickets, there is a sign as you walk in warning you that if you leave the park and want to return you have to have your hand stamped, your ticket and your receipt or you will not be allowed to re-enter which I thought was a little over the top really.
Now like I say we went with young children and therefore I will review our experience and therefore although there was bigger rides such as a large log flume and big rollercoasters I am unable to comment on these.
Drayton Manor is the home of Thomas land and when you walk into the park you can immediately see Thomas Land to the left of you, it seemed to me that the park was set out for the younger children to the left, the older children and adults to the right and the zoo at the back. We walked into Thomas land to have a look and there was a train track with turntable where a large Thomas model was being washed by his driver, I found this a lovely touch as in the TV programme the engines have to have a wash too.
We decided to go and get something to eat and see the animals as the rides weren't open. Next to Thomas land was an array of eating options, first of all there was a sit down café and then next to it we found two different serving hatches one of which was doing donuts and one doing ice creams and then further around the corner was another food bar which sold pastries and coffees with an outside seating area. We purchased a couple of bacon and cheese wraps and sat down, the food was expensive as you would expect in these places but it tasted nice and wasn't overly greasy.
We made a visit to the toilets, each toilet area has a male and female toilet along with a disabled which was a good size and a baby changing area. The toilets were cleaned and well stocked and they remained so throughout the day so I assume that cleaners must have being going in through the day as there were a lot of people there the day we went. The baby changing areas were large and the main one had enough space for five babies to be getting changed at the same time so I never had to wait too long too change my daughter.
Next we headed to the zoo which to be honest we were a little disappointed with but that is probably as we only have Flamingo land to compare to which has a fantastic zoo. In the first few enclosures we found Monkeys and Meerkats, next along there was a reptile house but this didn't open until later and so we didn't see inside. We then found 2 leopards which were pure black, one of them seemed to have sores on its back and the 2 of them were separated so not sure if this is why but to be honest one of them seemed to have very little space and kept just walking around in circles which wasn't very nice to see. Further along there were numerous owls in a darkened walkway and then you came to a large park and a further café and toilets.
Spencers outdoor play area was huge, there was a model of Spencer made purely out of wooden logs which the children were able to sit in. There were two different areas made to look like carriages joined by numerous sections of climbing frames, slides and other play bits. There was seating for the adults to watch the children playing and the floor was rubber or bark and so provided a soft landing in case of any accidents. Even our 10 month old had a go on one of the slides and really enjoyed it, her older sister didn't want to leave the play area until we mentioned that the rides would be starting soon!
Further into the zoo we found penguins, spider monkeys, tigers and a chimp, the tigers were inside (although they could get to an outside enclosure) so you had to go into a darkened area to see them. The week before we visited someone had thrown a buoy in with the chimp which the chimp had thrown and managed to crack the reinforced glass which was boarded up, we were told that the chimp had had to be locked up for a week whilst they got it sorted although it still wasn't fixed fully. We found that the zoo really didn't have that many animals and a lot of it was in a very dark area and made photos of your experience near enough impossible which was a shame.
When we went into Thomas land we found there was a bit in the middle set up like Tidmouth sheds with three different engines that the children could have their picture taken with I think it was Gordon, Edward and Percy but can't promise! There is also a big sweet shop, a shop full of Thomas merchandise although to be honest was overpriced and then there were many rides. There was a boat that was a mini galley ship style ride, a ride of Harold the helicopters that went up in the air, two normal rides with characters from Thomas, Bertie bus which went round in a circle like a Ferris wheel and a set of cars that went round a track for the child to pretend to drive.
All the rides had long queues as you would expect at this time of year, the cars that went round the track could be ridden by any age children but other than that there was nothing for little babies unless they could sit on their own and have a seat belt on which our daughter was ok with. On all the rides you could only have one adult per row or per carriage which meant that when a child wanted two parents to go on a ride with them an adult would be taking up a carriage of a ride and making you queue for longer, we took it in turns to ride with our eldest and she was happy enough with this. I understand that this is due to the capabilities of the rides but would have thought on busy days they could have a rule such as every adult rider must be accompanying a child.
Within Thomas land and all through the park there were the usual games where you can win giant teddies which cost a fortune and are set up to prevent people winning. The one in Thomas land was to win a large character train from Thomas and you had to throw 2 balls into a bucket and they had to stay in the bucket. Obviously the buckets are set at such an angle that this is unlikely to be won but there was a very nice member of staff running the game when we went to it and he let our daughter stand on the top and showed her how to hold the ball and then even guided her throwing it to allow her to win which we thought was really nice of him. Further through the park later in the day my daughter had a go at another game and I overheard one member of staff saying to the other that she sometimes lets young children win if the manager wasn't about!
The main attraction of Thomas land was Thomas himself, there is a set-up of the actual tracks to the side of which is James the engine with a sign saying "engine sleeping please be quiet" which the children can sit in. There is a bridge which goes over the railway tracks just like on the show and Thomas and Rosie give rides from one ends of the park up to the zoo and back again. This set up was really realistic and when you are on the platform there is an announcement that your train is coming before the train comes into view. When the train pulls into the station the engine turns around on a turntable and then comes around the carriages to connect back to the front which our daughter found amazing.
We thoroughly enjoyed our day and there were many more things available that we didn't use, there was an indoor play area which ran every 15 minutes but we just didn't have time to go into this. There was also a small rollercoaster within Thomas land but our daughter was too little for this. The rides have height restrictions like all theme parks and these were checked by staff with the usual wooden pole which I thought was really good as in other theme parks I have seen this get forgotten on busy days.
There was also an amusement arcade with both adult games and the usual 2p slots for children, a lot of the machines pay out in little yellow tickets which you can then exchange for prizes, we ended up with quite a lot of the tickets throughout the day and our daughter ended up with a soft toy rucksack which is actually really good quality, a range of different character stickers, a Disney princess up and some sweets.
Overall this park is brilliant, it is clean and tidy and all staff we came across were polite and the train driver of Thomas really made a fuss of his passengers. The park has thought about families with young children and there are buggy parks near to some of the rides and there is also space for buggies on the train ride without having to collapse them down. There is plenty to keep your child amused for the full day and plenty of places to buy food. There are 2 different sweet shops and two different gifts shops although be aware that like any other theme park the shops are very overpriced. I found the zoo was poor and I think charging for a 2-3 year old is out of order even if it is only £5 as there are very few rides this age could go on. I would recommend this to anyone with young children as long as they are likely to enjoy Thomas as there isn't actually much else for young children apart from one carousel, we thoroughly enjoyed our day here.
It is now about 9 months since we visited and my daughter is still asking when we can go again so it is obvious she really enjoyed herself.
It's a shame but I never actually do anything on bank holidays. I just roll out of bed at whatever time I feel like and waste the entire day doing nothing, I don't even bother to get dressed most of the time. This bank holiday weekend, however, I decided would be different. I would go and do something, have some fun and fully enjoy one of my very rare days off.
Knowing that I had a tight budget to stick to I decided to take advantage of Drayton Manor's current '2 for 1' ticket offer. This voucher, available to download and then print from www.draytonmanor.co.uk, allows you to purchase two adult tickets into the park for the price of one up until the 11th September 2011, not a bad deal I thought!
Usual prices are as follows:
Adult - £32
Child - £25
Toddler (2-3 years) - £5
Under 2 years - Free
Grandee (aged 65+) - £19
Disabled/helper (each) - £22
Family of 3 - £73.50
Family of 4 - £98.00
Family of 5 - £122.50
Tickets can also be purchased online for discounted rates. The price of these tickets depends on when you go, an adult ticket starts at £19.95 and a child £17.95. If you go during peak times then this will cost more but it'll always be cheaper than 'one the day' prices!
These prices are, in my opinion, reasonable. They're obviously a fair bit cheaper than the likes of Alton Towers and Thorpe Park but then, Drayton Manor doesn't offer anywhere near as much as these places in terms of 'big' rides.
The park is located in Tamworth, Staffordshire, West Midlands. Driving there is going to be relatively easy if you're using Sat-Nav. The park's postcode is B78 3SA and there are a great deal of attraction signs directing you to the park when you start to get close. The park also has three car parks, all of which are free and located quite near to one of the park entrances.
As I don't drive I had to use public transport which was also rather easy! The park is only a ten minute drive away from Tamworth train station so getting a taxi from there for less than £10 is easily done.
The Drayton Manor website also have a list of scheduled coach trips to the park so, if you're planning on going but don't drive either, that's probably worth a look!
The park is open from 19th March - 30th October. The park opens at 9:30am, rides start at 10:30am and it remains open until a minimum of 5pm. I think how long the park stays open entirely depends on how busy it is towards the end of the day. When we first arrived there was a sign on the entrance gates stating that the park closed at 6pm that day. At about 4pm we found another sign located out site the 'visitor information' shop which stated it closed at 6:30pm. I think because there were still quite a few people spending money they decided to keep the park open for an extra half an hour.
One of my favourite things about Drayton Manor was its layout. The park is made up of a number of different themed sections which are all close together making it easy to get from one part of the park to another in a short amount of time. Unlike many other theme parks across the country, particularly Alton Towers, where you spend half an hour walking from one attraction to another. It was nice to spend more time actually going on rides than walking up hills getting so worn out you don't even feel like going on the next ride by the time you reach it!
Children are definitely more catered for in terms of rides. There are a couple of decent 'thrill' rides but the vast majority of the park is made up of rides for the little ones. The relatively new Thomas Land is a decent sized part of the park made up entirely of Children's rides of the Thomas the Tank Engine theme. The new ride for 2011 'Ben 10 Ultimate Mission' is also, as you would expect, aimed at children. Drayton Manor is clearly focusing more on families than teenagers and adults who want to spend all day riding huge rollercoasters. I went with my Dad and Sister and we were only really interested in the 'big' rides. Because of this we had been on everything we wanted to go on before we'd even sat down for dinner, the afternoon was basically spent going on everything again.
The rides we went on were:
Apocalypse - A 177ft drop tower. You can stand up or sit down when riding this, standing up will tilt you on an angle so the only way to look is down. Personally, I quite like heights but I still found going up this tower horrible. Coming back down at 50 mph is probably the most fun you can have in four seconds though!
Shockwave - Your typical rollercoaster which takes you a fair distance up, through a loop and then a couple of corkscrews. The difference is, however, you're stood up the entire way round. I did find this made the ride a lot more interesting and exciting.
G Force - Another rollercoaster. The chain lift on this rollercoaster takes you through a loop, quite hard to explain but you basically go up the first part of the loop really slowly until you're left hanging upside down, then you pick up the speed and start going through all the twists and turns. The ride doesn't have the usual shoulder restraints but instead you're held in place with a thick shield that wraps across your hips. Whilst it is nice to have complete upper body freedom on the rollercoaster, when you're hanging upside down your bum does come out of your seat a little bit and the hip restraint really digs into your stomach and is quite uncomfortable. It's quite a fun rollercoaster once you get past that bit though!
Stormforce 10 - This one is a water ride in which you're sat in a life boat. The ride starts with a little water drop which still gets you rather wet! Once you've gone along a little your boat is turned around and you go down a bigger drop backwards before taking the plunge down the final big drop. It doesn't really matter where you sit on this one, you're coming off it drenched. Fortunately, there are 'human dryers' placed around the outside of the ride which cost £2 for three minutes. Definitely worth spending if it's a cold day.
Maelstrom - A large swing really. There are a number of outward facing seats on a circular gondola. The ride then swings forward and back whilst the gondola is also revolving. This one does get quite high and really wasn't my 'thing' at all. In fact, I sat out when my Dad and Sister decided to go on it for the second time.
Pandemonium - A typical swinging inverter. There are two cars either side of each other which start swinging in opposite directions. You gradually swing higher until you go right over the top. Again, I wasn't much of a fan of this one either! I think the prolonged hanging upside down at the top was a bit much for most people to take as no one seemed to enjoy this one too much.
The Bounty - This one is just a pirate ship no different to the millions of other ones you've more than likely been on at some point. It does swing over water though which adds more to the whole theme of it.
The Big Wheel - This one is pretty much self explanatory as well. You get some decent views from the top is a nice way to give your stomach a little bit of a rest after all that being flipped upside down.
Ben 10 Ultimate Mission - This one is essentially a children's ride but it's suitable for adults too, given it was a new one we thought we'd try it out. The first thing I must say about this one is the indoor queuing part of this ride is brilliant. I dare say Ben 10 fans will probably enjoy this bit more than the actual ride! There are TV screens with the characters talking to you about the 'mission' as well as little interactive touch screens telling you about the monsters. The décor is made to look like a laboratory and really is quite impressive. It certainly takes your mind off of the queue times.
The ride itself is also quite fun. You're taken around a track, which is mainly ups and downs with a few corners, at quite a high speed before reaching the end of the track and doing it all again backwards! It certainly makes your stomach do somersaults and the kids we saw getting off the ride all had massive grins on their faces, it was quite a hit with them and their parents.
Like I say, these are just the rides we went on, there were plenty more but, as I've said, all were mainly for children. We also took a viewing in the 4D Cinema which was a new experience for me. This is a 15/20 minute loonytoons cartoon, you've probably experienced a 3D film by now but add moving chairs, wind blowing across your face and sprinkles of water and you've got 4D! All your senses are involved in watching this cartoon and it really is great fun.
The park also has a zoo which I was desperate to take a look at. The zoo claims to hold over 100 species of animals, I'm pretty sure 90 of these must be birds of some sort. There were a couple of penguins, lemurs, gibbons, chimps and a about three different types of 'big cats'. The highlight was definitely the two absolutely gorgeous tigers which I could have happily stood and watched all day. The zoo wasn't the most impressive thing in the world but the animals all looked happy enough and their enclosures were clean and suitable. I didn't see much evidence of any conservation work though, which is unusual in a zoo!
Just outside of the zoo is 'Rainforest Pizzas' which is where we decided to eat. There are many different places to eat around the park offering pretty much every type of food. We did have a quick look around at some of these other places before deciding where to eat. The first place we went was the 'Chicken Diner' where you could get 3 chicken strips, fries and a drink for £6. Extortionately priced in my opinion and we quickly became aware it was much cheaper to purchase a family meal than it was to purchase individual meals for each of us separately.
We headed over to Rainforest Pizzas for the Pizza family meal as it was pretty much the only thing we could get that wasn't largely made up of meat, most of the meals contained buckets of chicken which, as I don't eat meat, wasn't really any good to us. For £21.98 we got a 14inch pizza with a choice of two toppings, two large drinks (out of the usual choices of coke, pepsi, fanta etc), two fruit shoots, four servings of potato wedges, beans, coleslaw and a variety of sauces. I didn't think £21.98 was too bad for all that considering where we were. The food was also rather nice and I've no complaints with it whatsoever.
My Dad did purchase a coffee for £2 which he made perfectly clear was the worst coffee he'd ever tasted. Maybe best you avoid that.
The absolute best thing about this particular restaurant for me was the décor inside. It's not called Rainforest Pizzas for nothing! The whole of the inside is made to look like a rainforest, the glass roof is decorated with leaves and spot lights, the walls were made up of rocks and trees and all over the place were giant status of animals such as elephants and gorillas which all moved and made authentic noises. I really loved it and it was probably my overall highlight of the day!
Just outside of this restaurant was an ice cream kiosk which sells a 'special' made up of three scoops of ice cream (vanilla, chocolate and mint choc chip - although you can have extra, for example, chocolate if you don't want vanilla), a flake, cream and sauce in a huge waffle cone. These proved rather popular which is surprising considering they were £3.50 each. I didn't have one myself as I'm not a fan of ice cream but my Sister and Dad certainly enjoyed theirs as did hundreds of other children by the look of it!
If you decide to take your own food, however, there are plenty of picnic tables placed around the park for you to settle down and enjoy your meal. These are dotted around all the different themed sections of the park so you can pick your favourite and take in your chosen view!
I did notice that there seemed to be a good number of toilet blocks all placed really close together by the entrances of the park and then none in the middle. The park isn't exactly massive so it's not like you have to walk for an hour before you find a toilet but I still think there was a design flaw there. The toilets were clean and well stocked up with toilet rolls and soap but they did smell quite a bit! Nothing terrible though, I've experienced a lot worse in terms of public toilets.
The park was generally tidy, how I'm not quite sure as I think I only saw three bins throughout the entire day. I can only assume everyone was simply carrying their rubbish around with them. I know we were!
If you're travelling from a distance and don't feel like making the long journey twice in one day then Drayton Manor recently opened their hotel located on the park grounds. I can't see myself ever needing such a thing but I had a look at prices while I was there purely out of curiosity. Your average double/twin/family room will set you back £112 a night. Unless you've got that amount of money to simply throw away I would strongly recommend looking into other nearby hotels, there are plenty of them within a short drive of the park for much more reasonable prices! Failing that Drayton Manor also have their own campsite which I thought was a brilliant idea. £15 will get you a standard pitch for a night, much more reasonable. I've never used the campsite so I can't comment in terms of facilities etc but I did observe it from the top of one of the rollercoasters and it certainly looked popular! You can also upgrade your ticket for £10 if you wish to come back the next day.
I'm not entirely sure how popular the park is. Given we went on a bank holiday weekend during the summer holidays I was expecting it to be packed with people but I don't think we were in the queue for any ride for longer than ten minutes. I'm not sure if this is a reflection of the overall popularity rating of the park or whether we were simply lucky though.
If you're bringing children to the park don't think you won't be able to experience the bigger rides if you like them. The park have an 'infant rider swap' scheme set up just for you. You all queue up for the ride your child cannot go on, one adult enjoys the ride whilst the other looks after the child, when the ride has finished the adults swap over. Both get to experience the ride without splitting up or leaving the child(ren) unattended. I know if I had a child I'd be extremely happy with this idea and I think little things like that really make the park stand out. I'm not sure how happy a child would be about waiting in line for a ride they can't go on though!
In conclusion, I am glad I visited Drayton Manor, it certainly made a difference from staying at home and doing nothing and I did enjoy myself, I just cannot see myself going back any time soon though. If you've got children then I'm sure a visit to the park would prove to be much more packed with action as there is just so much more to do. If you're purely looking for thrills and adrenaline however, I wouldn't recommend this as the theme park to go to. Of course, the rides in such a category are good and fully enjoyable but there just are not enough of them and I find there are only so many times you go on the same rides in one day. You're going to get a much better value for money if you take children as well.
I purchased a adult ticket for Drayton Manor with my Tesco club card points and intended to visit at Christmas but due to the awful weather we never got round to going. Last week when we had the wonderful sunny weather I felt it was a complete waste of the weather to put my son in nursery for the morning so decided to use my ticket and take him to Drayton manor for the day. This is our second visit to the park as we visited last year with friends
About Drayton manor Theme park and zoo.
Drayton Manor is near Tamworth in Staffordshire and access able from the M42 or the A38.
The Park currently opens at 9.30 although the rides do not open until 10.30. The rides shut at 5pm but I noticed that the restaurants closed earlier than 5pm. If you wanted to arrive earlier you could walk round the zoo or go to the outdoor play area.
The ticket prices are cheaper to purchase online however these are for specific days so if the weather is awful you have no option to change days.
Adults (12- 64 years) £32 or from £19.95 online
Aged 4-11 years £25 or from £17.95 online
Children 2-3 £2.50
Under 2 free
Over 65 £19 or from £16 online
Disabled helpers £22
3 family Members £73
4 member family £98
5 member family £122.50
There is a £1.50 booking fee for Web booking.
Term time offers
Monday to Fridays excluding bank holidays
1 adult and a child under 4 years £24.50
Grandee and toddler £19.
Inside the Park.
You are given a map to find your way around. It isn't the clearest map but does give you a good idea of where you need to be. There are adult rides which include a stand up rollercoaster and a huge lifeboat log flume but as I visited with a three year old I will be discussing visiting the park with a young child. The excitement for most young children is Thomas Land.
We arrived at the park at about 10.15 and by the time we had visited the toilets and made our way to Thomas land it was time for the rides to open.
Inside Thomas Land many of the rides require and Adult to accompany them if they are under a certain height.
Terrance Training school was his first ride. You do have to be over 1 meter to ride on this ride .It does require you to be able to reach the pedals and drive the tractors around. My son absolutely loved this. He was able to steer. There were two assistants on helping them drive .Once there was another child on the ride they were able to have a slow race which added to his enjoyment.
The next ride was Harold the Helicopter. You can seat up to four passengers per helicopter. Harold flies up in the air and round in a circle. I enjoyed getting a view of the Park. My son believed he was a pilot and flying me all over the park.
Next my son wanted to ride on Thomas so we went to the station. The Thomas Train has two stations and the bottom one has a turntable where the train will turn round which is fascinating for the children to watch and loud Thomas music is played which seems to turn the turning of the train into more of an event. The Top station is knapford station. The train carriages have pram compartments which meant the numerous buggies are easy to transport to the ext station. Despite the train returning to the first station you must alight from the train at Knapford and join the queue for the return trip. The train trip has a Thomas and Percy which were both running the day of our visit and also Rosie who could be seen from the tracks but was having a day off. You also pass a sleeping James in the sidings. James Can actually be reached by walking over a bridge and your can climb up James. You pass a model of the fat controller and other familiar sites from the Island of Sodor. We returned immediately and later travelled up to Knapford on Percy. The trains have moving eyes and the excitement on the faces of children is a joy to see.
However if you stay off the train at Knapford station there is a Dino trail and an outside play area called Spencer's Play area. It is mainly wooden structures but has slides, things to twist and turn. There are plenty of benches there ideal for picnics or snacks. There is a cafe right by the play area which is a perfect opportunity for parents to grab a cup of tea while the little one's play.
There is also a Dino trail which is a path which follows round in a circle with models of dinosaurs. The Dinosaurs are all have information boards and at my son's age it was more teaching him the names but there is far more detailed information on Location and diet for the older children.
Back at Thomas land there are many more familiar rides. The Cranky crane drop ride was not working the day we visited. Jeremy Aeroplane ride which has a four seats but the front passengers need to hold a button in to make the plane fly. On our last visit my son sat in the front with his friend and neither could figure out they needed to hold the button in to keep the plane but I sat in the front this time so we were able to fly easily.
We found Emilie's soft play centre which was an indoor soft play area. This is a 15 minute play session. There is a small less than three area where parents can go and also a large play area where children play alone but they do have a member of staff in the play area. The staff in this area actually stood out as she didn't simply supervise the children but helped them find their way to particular areas and played games with them. My son actually loved her and when we returned for a second play he ran up to her and gave her a hug as he was so excited to see her there. This also has the comfiest leather sofas for the parents to sit on which is a great way to relax for 15 minutes.
There is also the dirty diesels which spin and look like they are going to crash but my son insisted he needed to ride on Salty his favourite diesel. And A boat ride based in Sodor docks which the boat spins round 360 degrees but isn't as scary as a pirate ship.
A new addition to Thomas land this year is the vintage car ride which takes you round Farmer McColl's farm and has some of the set from the original series so for the older Thomas Fans this can be a bit of a trip down memory lane.
There is a small carousel which is with Lady Engine which was a ride my son was tall enough to go on his own and meant I could get a couple of photos of him actually on a ride rather than when the rides are stationary.
There is also a rollercoaster in Thomas Land but my son will not entertain going on a rollercoaster as he is going to go on when he is a "big boy".
There was a show on the bridge by the station and this featured the fat and thin controller and a female from the program who I didn't really know. My son enjoyed watching this for about ten minutes but then got restless and we carried on. I did add to the atmosphere but the highlight for the children is the trains more than the people. This show was not advertised anywhere so if I hadn't been in the area we would of missed it.
There is also a huge shop full of Thomas merchandising. If there is anything Thomas you want there is a good chance you will find it in this shop.
The rest of the park
Outside of Thomas land there are a few rides for the little ones to go on. They are currently building a Ben 10 rollercoaster which is due to open on 23rd April. Ben 10 is something my son loves the mechanising of despite not been allowed to watch the TV program and it seems to simply be very popular for boys in his age bracket. My son found it fascinating to see it under construction and the fact it was not complete had no impact on his day as he wouldn't of rode it anyway.
The ride that drew him out of land was the Polperro Express train which my son thinks is the Polar Express. He loved the ride particularly passing through the level crossing.
He did ride the big wheel and swinging Flying Dutchman boats. There is a chair lift ride which we walked to the end of the park only to discover that it is a round trip and we had to walk back to near Thomas land to catch the chair lift. It was an extensive view of the whole of the park and we got to see where we would like to also visit.
We found the dodgems in the pirate cove area which he loved and we found this was a mix of the older and younger visitors, the older ones did seem wary of bumping into our care till they saw my son enjoying the bumps.
Although we did enjoy the other areas it was Thomas land that my son wanted to return to. I think the age appropriateness of his age group and the familiar characters made it such an exciting area.
My son is not really interested in animals but we did have a short walk round the zoo. It seemed to be mostly every species of owl and small cats. There was a tiger enclosure which did seem to be the only species I found impressive and my son was only impressed with the penguins but this was due to him winning a penguin half an hour earlier on hook a duck. For me I would happily remove this area from the park. I didn't see any babies so unsure if there is any conservation work going on. If you do look on the website the latest babies to be born was Meer Kats in May 2010. It did not feel this was a main attraction and didn't feel particularly modern
Eating in the park
There are many places to eat in the park. We did take a packed lunch which did keep us going through the day however as the park didn't shut till 5pm we needed to eat as it would be too late for tea for my son by the time he got home. There is anything from doughnuts, hot dogs, pizza and pies. We ended up in a burger bar and had a Childs meal each was £3.99 each. My son had a burger which was a full size burger and I had the nuggets which contained 4 large nuggets and was adequate for myself and my son took some of his back to the car for his journey home. This food was far superior to McDonalds.
There is a specific first aid area but fortunately we did not need to visit this.
We did find toilets located all around the park. They were clean but my only complaint it that the doors had no hooks which meant I had to put my bag on the toilet floor which is something I hate doing.
Walking around the park.
The park is quite small to walk around. Despite my son rarely ever going in his buggy I took it into the park so if he did get tired him could have had a rest. He probably sat in his buggy for about ten minutes in total and we could have easily sat down and had a rest. There were plenty of places to park the buggies to go on rides.
This is an amazing day out for a young child. It is worth booking online to keep down the costs. I do advise that you take a packed lunch to keep down costs. We were very lucky with queues. Due to it been the first week of opening we didn't have to queue for a single ride. We were also very lucky with the weather as there are not many indoor activities which on a rainy day could make it quite miserable. My son has not stopped talking about it since his return. When I told him I was writing a review on Thomas Land and asked him what I should say his reply was "Fun Fun Fun" which I do think is a great summary of our day.
For Further information see www.draytonmanor.co.uk
I have knocked one star off for the Zoo but Thomas Land I would give 5 stars at least.
We only live about 1/2 hour drive from Drayton Manor so when we have visited before it tends to be a last minute decision.
We have always found a massive queue when we have gone and I think it can be overpriced.
I would say this theme park is more for the young children, there are plenty of rides for the little ones but think there could be more thrill rides for adults and older children, shockwave is amazing and is well worth going onto but be prepared for a queue.
We have never actually spent a full day there as there is no where near as many good rides as Alton Towers, but as it's just a short distance to us which is why we have been a few times.
There are plenty of toilets, cafes and snack vans around the park and the prices are about average.
One thing I love to do when we go is to visit the zoo (childish I know!!) It's not huge but worth having a look around, there is a lot of Monkeys! and towards the back are farm animals. They occasionally have demonstations with birds etc if you are willing to wait around.
Definately more of a theme park for younger children, is it good but would prefer to go to a bigger theme park.
Drayton Manor is the home to the child-friendly theme park experience that is Thomas Land; home to Thomas The Tank Engine and all his steam engine friends! We visited this earlier this year as our daughter has a love of Thomas The Tank Engine and we tyhought it wold be a grand day out. It was but it wasn't cheap!
Situated in Staffordshire, just off the A38, the park costs a total of £28 per adult to get in with children over 4 being charged £24! As our daughter is not yet three, she got in free but discounted tickets can be purchased online. Also it pays to scour the Internet as often you can find the occassional Buy One Get One Adult Free Entry vouchers if you are lucky.
The park itself is pretty big! We only visited Thomas Land as we had hit traffic on the way there and arrived later than we had planned so I cannnot comment on the rest of Drayton Manor but it did look very impressive from what we saw!
Thomas Land itself sits in a seperate enclosure and consists of lots of child-friendly rides based around a Thomas theme that include vintage cars that are driven around a rail track, a Cranky The Crane ride that lifts you right up and a Harold The Helicopter ride that lifts you high and swoops round in a circuit allowing you to see far over the park below! During the course of the day, The Fat Controller cand his helpers put on shows, sing songs and encourage the kids to join in with fun activities making them feel involved and keeping them occupied. There are lots of places toi eat and drink but prices can be a bit steep so it might be best to take a packed lunch!
In close proximity to Thomas Land, there is also a neat little zoo with lots of animals to see which is good for the children. This is also a neat place to visit with lots of species to see!
Overall, I think this was a little expensive to get i but was otherwise a good day out. I didn't enjoy it as much as Lego Land last year but that might be a little because we didn't get a chance to see as much of the rest of the park as we might have liked!
Drayton Manor Park can be found near Tamworth in Staffordshire on the A4091 which is just off the A38 / A446, J9 M42 & Exit T2 M6 Toll. It is easy to find a well sign posted.
Drayton Manor Park has something for for everyone it is more family orientated than other theme parks and is slighltly cheaper The park gates open at 9.30am and rides start from 10.30am - closing from 5pm onwards sometimes they close the rides later depending on weather and how busy the park is.
What it costs......
Adult which are classed as over are £28.00
Child age 4-11 £24.00
Disabled Visitor & Helper £19.00 each
Under 4s are free
They also do family tickets......
3 Family Members costs £69.00
4 Family Members costs £92.00
5 Family Members costs £115.00
And in Staffordshire term time there are special offers for
Adult and Toddler (under 4 years) which costs £19.00
60+ and Toddler (under 4 years) £14.00
Car parking is free
Which is good value for money especially if you go in a group and someone can watch th echildren so adults can enjoy the rides to lol.
It's best to go in the week term time as you get to go on all the rides and avoid ques.
The rides something for everyone ....
For adults and young adults- They have Shockwave which is europes only stand up rollercoaster not for the faint hearted this one, Storm Force 10 a log flume with a difference its twists and drops you down the flume backwards, G force rollercoaster with lots of twists and turns, Maelstorm which spins you around and swings you at the time this is not one for after you have just eaten lol these are a few examples. The adult rides are good however if you are looking for bigger thrills you are better to go to larger theme parks which are more adult rather than family focused.
For older children - They have The Pirate adventure which is a indoor pirate themed boat road, bumper cars and a haunted house along with others
For smaller children there is Thomasland which is a variety of Thomas the tank engine rides which include Cranky the Crane Drop Tower - which drops and bounces children up at down (8 metres high), Troublesome Trucks Coaster - which is a mini roller coaster and Terence's Driving School where the children get to drive their own tractors.
For everyone - there is the zoo which has a good variety of animals and reptiles for everyone to enjoy. There is also a variety of food, sweets and gift shops with a special Thomas themed one in Thomas land. You are also able to exit the park to go to your car so its nice to take a picnic and cuts down on the price there is plenty of places to sit and eat around the park.
For young and old children there is also a outdoor adventure plaground for climbing and sliding.
Overall a good theme park for all of the family.
Taken From Ciao So Thats Why It's So Long!
I have to say when I was told where I was going this weekend I was slightly dubious. Mainly becausehaving been there a year or so ago, I found it quite boring - but I thought well I have different company this time so you just never know! Thankfully this time I was with a bit more of a vaired group of people so got to see something more than just the main park!
So What Is Drayton Manor Park?
According to the official web-page of Drayton Manor it is 'everyone's favourite theme park packed with a host of great rides and attractions, set in 280 acres of lakes and parkland.' I will definately give it that much it is definately set in a really nice area, it looked very picturesque even on this very drizzly bank holiday weekend! There are a number of different sections to Drayton Manor, in the shape of Thomas Land, the main park, and the zoo. So there are plenty of different things to do to satisfy everyone. So even if you are not a big fan of the rollercoasters you can always enjoy yourself in the zoo with any number of the species who reside there.
How To Get There
Drayton Manor park is situated in Tamworth in Staffordshire, on the A4091, just off the A38/A446, Junction 9 M42 and Exit T2 M6 Toll, now I have to admit I wasn't paying much attention to the road because the Sat Nav was telling me where to go. If you are going to travel there by Sat Nav you will be needed the post code B78 3TW, hopefully your Sat Nav will find the park because ours didn't, but due to the wonder that is roadsigns we found our way there!
The Drayton Manor website actually tells you that during the busier summer months there are buses running from the train station in Tamworth directly to the park - so fear not if you don't fancy the hassle of driving and parking is a simple way to have a good day - well I say simple it might not be because I haven't used it! It must work well else it wouldn't still be running! As always with big attractions there are plenty of options to get there and back with various discounts, all to get you through the gates. For more detailed information log onto http://www.draytonmanor.co.uk/ParkGuide/Directions.aspx
How About Staying Nearby?
If you were looking to stay in a hotel for the night before your visit, there are a few that offer a discount on your parket tickets if you book a room with them. Most of them are around 10 or so miles away from the park. A recommendation for a hotel which is about 10 miles away from the park is in Tamworth called the Ramada,( http://www.ramada-tamworth.com/index.php ) which is a great nights sleep before your busy day. However there are lots of hotels listed on the Drayton Manor site that are close by and they usually all offer packages for families including tcickets for the park, which gives you a chance to relax after what could be a long drive!
As always its good to have a look on the internet just to see which hotel sounds better for you depending upon on the facilities - but the Ramada is definately a great hotel, with a great suite for two people or a family... Thats all for another review!!
The Campsite and Carparking
There is a campsite attatched to the park, which is specifically for families, meaning no wild parties until the early hours! With the campsite there are facilites available, with toilets and running showers and the added bonus of plenty of security. The prices for the night at Drayton's campsite are fairly reasonable at £25 a night for an electric hook up pitch, and £15 for a standard one. I'm not sure how the car parking is at the campsite, but if it is as good as the parking at the main park site there is plenty of space for a lot of visitors. Until the staff decide to wheelspin oer the grass making it pretty disgusting to walk over!
All this information is available here: http://www.draytonmanor.co.uk/ParkGuide/CampingAndCaravans.aspx
The Main Park
When you first walk through the gates, you will get your ticket scanned by a member of staff. After that you are faced with a fairly open pathway with the main rides to your right, (which I will talk more about in a moment,) and a fairly long walk ahead of you. Within the main park as well as your rides, there are the usual fast food vendors and suprisingly enough plenty of places to sit down in you need to. There are plenty of things to be getting on with if you are not into scary rides or the childs side - theres plenty of more tame things you can do such as...
The Haunted House
This looks from the outside to be an old vicarage, until you walk into a side door which is connected to a bit of an industrial portable building, where you are played a video - giving the house a bit of a ghostbuster feel to it. There are two seperate rooms where you will feel the effects of this scary attraction, one where everyone you entered the attraction with stands - there are various effects here from glow in the dark paint on the ceiling to lights in the floor boards... The crowd is then split into two groups and taken into seperate rooms at that point you enter a room that asks you to sit back and hold onto the bar thats about to come down on you. At this point you get the feeling that you are spinning in the room - but don't be fooled!
To be honest this attraction is not all that scary, unless you are easily scared by something brushing past your hand in the dark. The flashing lights at the beginning of the attraction are enough to give you a headache, and if you are with a boyfriend like mine, you will jump out of your skin! There are plenty of warnings about this attraction, such as not going on it if you are epileptic or pregnant which is more than understandable considering what goes on during the attraction!
Golden Nuggets Shoot Out
Now depending on how good you are at aiming and who you are sat next to on this attraction will depend how much you enjoy it! So the basic principle of this game is to get as high a score as possible from shooting targets. To get to these targets you sit in a car, for four people, with a screen in front of you with your score on and a little holder with a red gun in. Now these guns look easy enough to use but trust me they need very precise aiming - meaning I had no chance! By the time you finish, there is a big screen telling you how well your whole group did, which is embarassing if you do as badly as me and they put up your individual score too!
I have to say this attraction annoyed me, mainly because I have no aiming skills and it is not as easy as it looks, especially when you find yourself aiming pointlessly while your other half is shooting everything and ending up with a score 15 times the size of yours! I would say though this attraction is more of a time filler than anything else, well that is unless you are ultra competative. There are no safety restictions on it so this ride seems to be open to anyone who can shoot a fake gun!
The drunken barrels are hidden behind a fairly large tree so you might not spot it straight away, but if you find the Golden Nuggets attraction you are pretty much just next door to these spinning barrels. The drunken barrels are basically oversized metal barrels with enough space for 5 people maybe 6 if you are all fairly slender, that sit on a wooden plate that spins and throws you in random directions. That is until someone spots the silver disk in the middle of the barrel and decides to spin you very fast until you are very dizzy... As a precaution the ride suggests doing up a safety belt, but as the ride operator explained they are not compulsary, which is a good thing because it would take longer to get them to the right size, than the time you have before the ride starts! Given that this is slightly hidden it is not a bad ride really - maybe not as scary as the coasters but it definately will give you a bit of a giggle...
Other Family Rides
So there are also a few more of the tame rides you can take smaller children on, with supervision of course, smaller things such as the Ferris Wheel. Which gives you a good view of the park especially when they leave you hanging up there for a few minutes while others get on the ride. You get two maybe three rotations on the wheel depending upon how busy the park is, be warned if it's windy you will be rocking about up there quite a lot! Though warning for anyone over four foot high remember to duck as you walk out of your little seat otherwise you will do what I did and bash your head on the iron bar holding the wheel together - believe me you will regret that for a few hours!
There is also a buffalo ride which takes you over the river and across the top of the walk way, it seems like a nice way to get into the rides, it's especially good for the children if you go with them because apart from the coaster in Thomas Land is as close as they will get to a scary rollercoaster. It wasn't really my thing when we went because it was a bit tame for me but I have it on high authority from the 6 year old I was with that it was really cool! Another ride that impressed my boyfriends little brother was the Flying Dutchman, basically a bunch of boats on ropes that swung round, though beware if you have a bit of vertigo it does go quite high and a little bit diagonal at a speed! There is also a ride called the sombrero but it wasn't functioning on the day so I never got to see what that did, but it looks like you sit in a little sombrero hat and get spun around, so it would be worth a try with children!
There is also the luxury of a cable car, to go over the top of the whole park at quite a height actually, it's a good experience if you are there on a sunny day - but the weekend just gone was quite drizzly so I ended up a little bit wet when I got off. Though regardless of the weather I recommend it, it's definately worth a go when you're there, but beware of the start because they do push you quite hard up the cable. If you are facing backwards than it is a bit of a shocker when they push you up especially since your not used to it - though beware if you have a bit of vertigo! There is also a pirate ship for everyone to have a go on, but every time I walked past it, it was under maintenance so I would avoid it personally but if it is working and you fancy it try it! It's all included in your ticket price so why not!
Well for all you parents out there of young children, you probably know all about, Sodor and all the Thomas characters - I didn't but I do now! There are plenty of rides here to keep your children entertained, from a magical bus, to helicopters and aeroplanes! I never remember there being that many characters in Thomas all those years ago but then again that was a long time ago! You and your little one can explore 6,000 square meters of Thomas Land and enjoy the rides over and over again probably!
I will give you my personal opinion on a few of the attractions there, including the 'Troublesome trucks runaway coaster,' now I will say this much about this coaster for the height restrictions they set of 0.9 meters high which could be anyone about 4 or 5 years old, this coaster could be a little scary. If you hadn't realised I was at the theme park with a 6 year old this weekend so we decided to pile on this coaster with him just for fun, now shockingly we were quite suprised at just how crazy this ride was for being a childrens ride. Now I know normal coasters are fairly high but this one gets pretty skyscrapping itself for a childrens ride, it took us four adults by suprise actually but of course we were all fine with it, but the 6 year old we were with absolutely loved it!
Other than this beast of a childs coaster there are a number of other attractions for your little one, from driving a little car of their own to being on a train that takes you around the park, in a circle or one that takes you from the centre of the Thomas Land to the Zoo. I have to say as an adult this land didn't impress me too much, but from a childs point of view I can see why it would be so much fun because it is literally a television show brought to life. There is no wonder they get so excited, even if you aren't keen on letting them on rides there is two play areas for your children to be let loose, one is outdoors which will be great in the summer and there is one indoors, which I didn't actually see anyone go in or out of but if it is at the same level of cleanliness and quality as the rest of the land it will be good for your children.
It is hard to tell you too much about Thomas Land as it is not aimed at my age group but the little boy I was with did say he would recommend it!
For a full list of attractions in Thomas Land log onto here: http://www.draytonmanor.co.uk/ThomasLand/RidesAndAttractions.aspx
Well it is called a zoo, but I have to say there are not too many species of animals you can spend your time looking at, especially if it's cold outside - afterall would you be wanting to walk around in the cold 24/7! So when you visit the zoo there are varying animals you can see from linxs' to penguins, and lots of things inbetween. The zoo is set in fifteen acres of land but it genuinely doesn't feel like it, or even look like it. Especially when you look at the size of the cages some of larger animals are placed in. When it comes to interacting with the animals I have to say that it is very limited in that the closest things I got to were rabbits and a cheeky chicken, that was all over the place when it wasn't being chased by children. There are however day trips for schools that mean you can discover different species and get some hands on experience, but that does seem to be for school parties only. There are also opportunities to become a zoo keeper for the day, but it is something you would have to inquire about in advance as there is very little detail around the park about it.
In this zoo there are not too many majorly exotic animals, there are small monkey in the small mammals house, which if let free I am guessing they would be more than friendly! I only saw one larger monkey this weekend, but that is not to say that there wasn't another one hiding away somewhere, as it would only be fair that it had company. As with all the animals there seems to be more than one of each which is a good thing, except the flamingos as there are definately plenty of those around - some of the pinkest flamingos i've seen in the UK. Overall the zoo section is a good place to go for a relaxing walk after lunch, or just to introduce your children to some of the more rare species that they might not get a chance to see in the wild, such as the beautiful Tigers. Now for everyone who is now in love with meerkats thanks to that advert, there are apparently some here but I was either walking around with my eyes shut or we didn't happen to walk past them because I didn't spot any! It may be though that the zoo's layout is a bit more complicated than it seemed, as the majority of it did seem to go round in a circle an aim so that people didn't miss anything I would assume.
Since the Thomas Land Train drops you off at the zoo, and has plenty of Thomas branded things to do you will find a Thomas Cafe here, as always in a theme park it is not cheap but you might find yourself dragged in it's direction anyway! The zoo area itself is very amply fitted with toilets, and they are all very clean and warm - one block especially, near the rabbits its apparently a bit like a sauna for it's positioning. So you know where to go on a chilly day to warm up! The zoo is an acceptable part of the park in combination with everything else ithe park offers, from thrill rides to family rides. If you are looking for a fuller zoo experience pick up the Twycross Zoo package from a local hotel if you are staying the night before, or look out on the internet for deals. As it will have more animals and more ways to interact, though Drayton Manor has a good enough zoo for a family day out to keep everyone entertained.
Well there aren't many spine tingling rides at Drayton Manor, they are all a bit short and spend a lot of time out of use for one reason or another. So it made me wonder if they were even safe to go on - but that didn't stop me! I was really disappointed that they weren't that scary but afterall, this isn't Alton Towers.
In my opinion this ride was the scariest at around 54 meters high, the ride drags you to this quite scary height quite slowly, and tilts you forward by fifteen degrees - thing is you are stood up with no foot rest. Which makes it even scarier as you are falling back to earth at a high rate of knots. Funnily enough the ground does come up at you fairly quickly. It does give you a nice view from the top while you are hanging onto your shoulder restraints for dear life! As I say there is a nice view from the top but don't get too engrossed in it as the point where your stomach moves from your abdomen to your mouth will come as a bit of a shock. If you aren't too bothered by heights you will be ok with this ride, if you're not so good with heights I would avoid it! There are the usual restrictions with this ride, such as height and no pregnant ladies, which is more than understandable!
Well this ride, is made out on the website to be oh so scary, but really it's not a thriller ride like you find at perhaps Thorpe Park or Alton Towers. It is apparently, 385 meters long, but let me assure you it really doesn't feel like it! That's if you can even get on it, when it's not out of use... When you do get on it, there are quite a few sections where you find yourself inverted, and let me assure you that is not something I enjoy, but the ride is over so soon you barely notice it. The loops are apparently 70 Kph, but to be fair it really doesn't feel like it! If this ride had a queue I would avoid it really, it wouldn't be worth waiting for anything more than 15 minutes for something that lasts less than a minute!
Now if you have had lunch, I suggest you save this until well after, because spinning around and going slightly upside down after a hot dog is not the best combination to be honest. The ride is not particularly scary, it just won't mix well with lots of food and drink it's best to give it a while or have it before lunch. It is quite a popular ride as you get plenty of people queueing to get onto it, as it's more like a fair ground ride that you get in your local park so it's nothing too much different to what you are more than likely used to. It is a good ride though, especially if you are waiting around for something else, but nothing spectacular that you can show off to all your mates about!
Well I just found this ride a bit boring, there is quite a simple idea behind it swing on a bit of metal at 25 meters in the air at 360 degrees, now to some that may sound exciting but it just seems a bit boring to me and had no real intention of going on it. I watched it a few times, and to be honest the people on it did look like they were enjoying themselves, well except for a few that did look a bit green! The queue wasn't really that long so it's not perhaps the most popular ride, but it definately lasts longer than either of the rollercoasters!
The second of the rollercoasters at Drayton Manor, now this one is actually longer than G-Force, and seemed to have a few more riders during the day. It is a stand up coaster at 487 meters long it's only a 100 meters longer than G-Force, but it seems to be even longer than it actually is - probably because you are stood up and you are taking the full force of the whole coaster on your body especially as you are whizzing around at 53 mph - which trust me is a lot on your face in a loop! If you only get the chance to go on one coaster at Drayton Manor pick this one, its longer, its faster and is much better!
Now if you like water rides you will like this ride, its a backwards drop of 9 meters into a lot of water, and trust me it's cold, and not too tasty! The ride in association with the RNLI, gives you a bit of a thrill, especially dropping at 64kph, not once, not twice, but three times! It's quite a thrilling ride, really for a water ride, but it is quite funny since you are there waiting for it and you can't see whats coming. Though I would recommend it on a warm day, because on a cold day it is very very cold, and not even the added bonus of the dryer at the bottom of the ride can make up for that feeling!
The rides are good... The Zoo is good... Thomas Land is good for kids... Food is expensive... In brief the park is Good.. Not the best but it's all round park for the whole family!
Adult (12+) = £28.00
Child (age 4-11) = £24.00
Grandee (age 60+) = £14.00
Disabled Visitor & Helper (each) = £19.00
3 Family Members =£69.00
4 Family Members = £92.00
5 Family Members = £115.00
I have lost count of the amount of times I have been to drayton manor theme park! I love spending a day there with my friends and family. It is also ideal for smaller children as there is now a Thomas Land, where younger children can go on their favourite Thomas The Tank Engine characters as rides!
You cannot compare it to Alton Towers as it's a lot smaller, with smaller and with fewer rides but on the upside it only takes about a quater of the time to get on the rides!
Its worth getting there early so you can get on the rides and fit as much in as possible. There are some great rides there including maelstrom,shockwave, stormforce 10, G force, Apocalypse, The Haunting (which i'll admit, it's not as scarey as it sounds!) and more.
There is now a 4D cinema (which i have yet to go into) and a zoo with many animals. Theres a wide range of shops, cafes and resturants. The park has a very large car parking area, so make sure you remember where left your car!
You can even make a weekend of it and stop in their own camping site! (Families only)
If your work place is planning any events, make sure you bare Drayton Manor in mind. Last year my work place held our Christmas party at drayton manor and actually made the best Christmas party I have attended!
It has won many awards inculding; Group leisure awards, Best UK value destination, Best UK attraction and more.
The gates open at 9.30 am and the rides are open 10.30 am - 5.00 pm.
The park itself is open from 20th March to the 31st October.
Adults (Age 12+) - £28.00 ( Yes it is alot but its a whole day out!)
Child (Age 4-11) - £24.00
Grandee ( Age 60+) - £14.00
Disabled visitor and helper (each) - £19.00
Under 4 - Free
If you are taking the family there are packages called the Family Supersaver which costs as follows-
3 Family Members - £69.00
4 Family Members- £92.00
5 Family Members- £115.00
It is located near Tamworth Staffordshire, just of the A38/A446, J9 M42 & exit T2 M6 toll. B78 3tw Tel: 0844 472 1950
For more information and ride list go to www.drayton manor.co.uk
Yesterday was my husbands 40th birthday and to help him get over it we all trekked of to Drayton manor for the day.
The theme park is situated in 280 acres of lakes and parkland and has a large array of rides and attractions.
Drayton manor park is near Tamworth Staffordshire just of the a38/a446, j9 m42 & exit t2 m6 toll. It is pretty easy to navigate to using a sat nav.
Drayton Manor Park limited
Tel: 0844 472 1950
1. 4d cinema - this year showing happy feet.
2. Apocalypse - a stand up tower drop
3. G - force - a very good rollercoaster
4. Maelstrom - a gyro swing that faces outwards
5. Pandemonium - a rather scary swing that goes through 360 degrees.
6. Shockwave - the only stand up roller coaster in Europe
7. Splash canyon - water rapids
8. Storm force 10 - a reverse chute log flume
1. Thomas and friends exhibition
2. Knapford station
3. Troublesome trucks runaway coaster
4. Diesels locomotion mayhem
5. Jeremy's flying academy
6. Crazy bertie bus
7. Harold's heli tours and shed
8. Rocking bulstrode & sodor docks
9. Cranky's drop tower
10. Sodors classic cars
11. Lady's carousel
12. Terence's driving school
13. Emily's adventure play
14. Thomas land shop
15. Spencer's activity park
1. Dino trail
3. Pirate adventure
4. The jolly buccaneer - pirate ship
5. The wild west shoot out
7. buffalo coaster
We also visited the zoo which is set in 15 acres of land and is home to over 100 hundred species. We especially liked the big cats; ring tailed lemurs, penguins and meerkats.
The ticket prices are quite reasonable considering you get a zoo and a theme park
Adults - £28
Children - £24
Over 60's - £14
Disabled visitor and helper - £19 each
Under 4 - free
Family of 3 - £68
Family of 4- £92
Family of 5 - £115
If you buy on line the day before you go off the web site or last minute.com you will make a considerable saving on price.
There are plenty of places to eat and crash out. The restaurants are all reasonably priced and you must have an ice cream from a.j's ice cream parlour. We always take a picnic with us there are plenty of benches next to the lake to eat at.
Early in the season there are very few queues so that means you can pack more rides in. If you go on storm force 10 I strongly advise you to wear a rain cover you will get very wet. I did.
There is also a camp site. I've never stayed there but it has all the usual facilities
Electric hook up pitch - £25 per night
Standard pitch - £15 per night
Awnings and pup tents - £5 extra
Drayton manor also does weddings and has corporate facilities.
All in all a fantastic value day out and we will be going again.
This is the nearest theme park to where I live, so it tends to be the one we visit the most. Over the years the park has had various pricing methods, such as a nominal entry fee and tickets and wristbands, but a few years ago decided to opt for the Alton Towers "one fee for all" policy, which is a shame because it excludes those who might just want to go too see the zoo and kids play area, and a lot of grandparents. The entry fee is steep, and last time we went it was £25 for an adult and £21 for a child. We have 3 kids and a family ticket would have cost us £100. Luckily, I paid in clubcard vouchers, which currently equate to £7.50 in vouchers per ticket, which need to be redeemed online before you go. I save up vouchers like mad during the year; it is the only way to make it an affordable day out.
Parking is straightforward, with a large are next to the entrance of the theme park. There are always spaces available and parking is free.
The park itself is set into themed areas, the latest addition being "Thomas Land". This is the new and shiny bit of the park, with everything themed on the island of Sodor, where Thomas the tank engine and his friends live. The rides in this section are "kiddie rides" and this is the part of the park with the most queues. It can get very crowded. I would be inclined to go to this section nearer the end of the day when the park is quieter. You can have a ride on Thomas or Percy, which takes you through a pleasant landscaped area and drops you by a huge kids adventure playground. This is the quietest part of the park, and there is a cafe here that I would recommend, as the cafes in the theme park are rubbish.
Drayton Manor has its share of "thrill rides",such as the stand up roller coaster and the swing ride, maelstrom. Apocalypse, the death drop ride is terrifying, as you can choose to stand up or sit down. Since the arrival of Thomas land, there are no queues for the big thrill rides and you can get straight on them without waiting.
One of our favourite family rides is the golden nuggets mine ride, which is a dark ride where you can shoot at targets and it gives you a score at the end. We also liked drunken barrels, which is a variation on the old "teacups" ride. There is a big wheel with excellent park views, as well as a lovely water ride, where you go through "dragon land". I went to Disney a couple of years ago, and many of the rides are very similar, such as the flying elephants and pirate ride.
As I mentioned before, the cafes are rubbish. You have to wait ages in a queue with a tray and when you finally get to where the food is, there is usually very limited choice. Once the food has been slopped on your plate, you then have to wait in an even longer queue to pay while your dinner goes cold. This is really difficult with kids. It is better to take your own food and have a picnic, or just buy a hotdog from one of the vendors.
When to go:
A final word about when you go. We made a BIG MISTAKE going in the August school holidays. Not only was it busy, but the park was plagued by wasp infestations and people were getting stung as they queued. If you have kids I would wait for a teacher training day, and go then, you will get more for your money.
I have been to this Theme Park more times than I can remember!! I do think this is good for kids and yes it does have a few biggie rides but they really could do with updating this now!! Shock Wave - ok so it is the only stand up rollar coaster in Europe but it has been there since like 1990! Time for a change I think.
As this is the most local theme park to me Im sure I will go again as with most other theme parks and there extremely irritating long ques these are half of them and could probably get on each of the rides a few times within a day!!
Not to say its all bad though - they do have a new rollar coaster G Force where you slowly get taken upside down with nothing but a bar around your waist!! There is then Storm Force 10 a great water ride with I believe an 80ft drop fall along with a smaller fall which turns you so you go down backwards!! Then you also have the Apocolypse! which sends you shooting down 100ft (may i add you dont know when your going to fall!!)
If Drayton Manor were to read this review I would like to mention they should lower the prices (almost as much as Alton Towers and no where nearer as good!) and to update some of the rides please!!
Drayton Manor is a long established Theme Park in Tamworth, Staffordshire. It is easily accessible from the M42 and is well signposted. The car parks are massive and look as if they would be adequate even on a very busy day. I visited with my two children in October on a school inset day so the park was relatively quiet.
The gates open at 9.30 with the rides opening at 10.30. There is a small zoo which you can visit before the rides open. The current price (2009) is £25 for an adult and £21 for a child, there are also various family ticket options available. I think this is quite expensive but I did use Tesco vouchers for our entry so I didn't have to pay. If you are using Tesco Vouchers do check the small print of the website as there are specified days that you cannot use them (I think Feb half term may be one).
As you enter the park you will find that it is split up into several areas. The map you are given at the entrance is very clear with lots of information about each area.
This area is particularly targeted at the younger guests. However I thought it was a lovely part and very well themed. If your child is a Thomas fan they will be delighted, there are models to have their photo taken with and the Fat Controller was walking about when we were there. There are some great rides in this part including the Troublesome Trucks rollercoaster which is an ideal introduction to coasters as it is very quick without being too scary. Children can also ride on Thomas up to Farmer McColl's farm where there is a Thomas exhibition and an animal reserve. There is a good drop-ride and cars that children get to drive their parents around in. Of course there is also a sweet shop and various other attractions appealing to children but delighting parents too.
This is the home to Drayton Manors main thrill rides. Maelstrom cannot be missed as you enter the park. This big circular swing was a favourite with my son and daughter although I wimped out and my friend claimed it made her feel sick! Shockwave is a thrilling stand-up coaster and G-force is an inverted coaster. Due to the fact it was quiet on the day we visited they did not have both rides running all day, one opened later and one shut early so it is worth checking on arrival. Splash Canyon is a raft ride but due to the freezing weather on the day we visited we declined to venture on it although it looked good fun. The oddest attraction here is the Black Revolver, it is basically an old-fashioned waltzer running in the dark with loud music and disco-lights, it was ok but I wouldn't be excited about visiting it again. The way the park is designed means that this is found at the end of a dead-end which meant it was very quiet. Action Park also has the entrance to the chair-lift which gives you an aerial view of the park although there are no stations to get off; it is just a circular trip.
Apocalypse is the major drop-ride in this area but this was not working when we visited which is a shame as these are usually my favourites. Pandemonium is another big thrill ride but it only runs when there are enough people to balance it properly so you can be in for a long wait. There are lots of rides around here including the Drunken Barrels (think Teacups!), the Big Wheel and the Sombrero. The wildwest shoot-out is a ride where you travel through a scene and shoot targets to score points. The guns had just been replaced so were very responsive and the person in charge gave us great tips on getting good scores so we went round lots of times (basically until I beat the kids score!). The Haunting is a sort of haunted mansion which is a bit like Hex at Alton Towers. You sit in a simulator whilst being told a story. Younger children would probably dislike this as it is very dark and there is no obvious exit during the ride.
One of the newest additions to this area is the 4D cinema. We saw a pirate film being advertised so we went in, collected our glasses and took a seat. What we actually saw was a horrific film based around a cat that was obviously dead, walking around a house full of possessed toys with pins in their eyes whilst they beckoned the cat to its grave! I hated it as it was very macabre and my friend's son was very upset. As we left we saw some A4 size bits of paper sellotaped to the door saying that there were two different films showing (every half an hour) and that the one wasn't suitable for children. I didn't think this information was prominent enough and I think a staff member should certainly have mentioned it as we were entering with a younger child. We eventually saw the pirate film which was cartoon in nature and much more fun.
Excalibur is a dragon boat ride whilst telling you a story of knights and dragons. This is quite pleasant except that some of the animatronics are damaged and haven't been repaired so there are people shooting arrows that have no bows and looking through telescopes that have disappeared! There is also a fire-effect that happens at the end that is a bit hit and miss. There are also a couple of dinosaurs knocking around for good measure which have obviously been left behind from a previous attraction. The Pirate Adventure is an indoor boat ride taking you past pirate scenes, obviously based around Pirates of the Caribbean at Disney it is also looking in need of a little TLC. The dodgems are always a big hit and are always busy but the queue doesn't take long. There is also a Pirate Ship which is probably one of the best I have ever been on as it goes really high.
The zoo area is great to walk around if you arrive early and also when you need a break from swinging and spinning! There are lots of displays including some very vocal gibbons and there is also a reptile house. We didn't walk around the full zoo but the Tigers were definitely my favourites.
There were plenty of places to eat or just pick up a cup of tea. The toilets were all nice and clean and there were plenty of cubicles. I noticed that some of the restaurants seemed to have been recently refurbished, in Aerial Park there was a great 50s style diner where the children loved sitting on the high stools. I hope this is an indicator that the park is going to tidy itself up a bit.
I thought the general maintenance seemed to be shabby, things were roped off with bits of tape and everything just looked a bit uncared for. I may visit again as it is not an awfully long journey from us but I think there are other parks with a similar admission charge which would offer more for my teenagers to do. However if you have children under 12 I think this park would be ideal as it is not too big.