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Drayton Manor (Staffordshire)
Member Name: xmum2threex
Drayton Manor (Staffordshire)
Advantages: Lots to do
Disadvantages: Can be expensive with lots of adults
**** 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.
Summary: A fantastic family day out
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