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Lots to do for the whole family.
Drayton Manor (Staffordshire)
Member Name: loopy-lou33
Drayton Manor (Staffordshire)
Date: 24/02/10, updated on 24/02/10 (95 review reads)
Advantages: Good selection of rides.
Disadvantages: Cost. And wasps in summer.
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.
Summary: Get clubcard vouchers to pay for entry.