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
Perfect For Thomas Fans!
Drayton Manor (Staffordshire)
Member Name: angelboouk
Drayton Manor (Staffordshire)
Advantages: good range of rides, perfect for all ages, clean
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 :)
Summary: we will be back!