Newest Review: ... Engines and Sodor Classic Cars are great the under two's, rides like Rockin' Bulstrode, Diesel's Locomotion Mayhem and Crazy Bertie Bus ar... more
Drayton Manor - Probably better if you take the kids!
Drayton Manor (Staffordshire)
Member Name: cfinney
Drayton Manor (Staffordshire)
Advantages: Plenty for Children to do and see, can be a cheap day out if you shop around for deals.
Disadvantages: Not much to do for the thrill seekers!
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.
Summary: Definitely one for the families.
More reviews in the field of Theme Park / Zoo National
- The highlight of Kettering, which isn't saying much...
- Not bad, but expensive
- If you love animals....Get A Membership!!!!!
- Surviving Jigsaw's Roller Coaster
- Lego On My Mind
- A day at the farm
- For rich lego-kids who want to have fun.
- We're going to the zoo, how about you? We hope you come too.
- Sealife London
- Brilliant for the kids!!!!
- White Post Farm Centre (Farnsfield)
- Monks Park Farm (Yorkshire)
- Wetlands Animal Park (Nottinghamshire)
- Tayto Park (Kilbrew)
- Marine Aquarium (Lyme Regis)
- Galloway Wildlife Conservation Park (Scotland)
- Apple Jacks The Amazing Adventure Park (Stretton)
- York Maze (York)
- Funland (Hayling Island)
- Jedforest Deer & Farm Park (Jedburgh)