Drayton Manor Park, Birmingham

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Drayton Manor Park, Birmingham

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Review of "Drayton Manor Park, Birmingham"

published 16/12/2009 | paulpry118
Member since : 20/04/2007
Reviews : 94
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"Christmas at Thomas Land in Drayton Manor"

Holly flying high

Holly flying high

Please Note: This review is based solely on Drayton Manor's Magical Christmas at Thomas Land and not on the full park, as this was the only section open at the time, unlike the summer when the whole park is open.

After watching a TV advert for Drayton Manor's Magical Christmas we decided that our daughter Holly nearly 4 would love the day out and as the price would shoot up after 20th December when Holly would be 4 we decided to go that weekend. The Magical Christmas is geared up for children under the age of 9 and is based mainly in Thomas Land.

The park opens at 12 pm and closes at 6pm weekends and 5pm weekdays with the car park open from 11.30. The site is easy to find using satnav, unless you have our one which sent us down the wrong way of a one way unmade road to the back entrance! It is situated just off the A4091 off the A38 or junction 9 of the M42 Tamworth Staffordshire.

On arrival we drove through to the very large car park and directed to our space by two parking attendants. After a few minutes walk, bearing in mind that nearly all the other visitors had pushchairs or toddlers, it would be quicker with older children or just adults, we arrived at the entrance. The queues we quite long but we had pre-booked so joined a queue of 2 other families at guest services to collect our tickets and then went straight into the park.

Thomas Land can be found on the left just inside the main entrance. Once inside we were greeted by the Fat Controller/Sir Topham Hatt and various other people dressed up in costumes.

Thomas Land is set in 3 acres of land and consists of 11 fairground rides all aimed at toddlers and young children.

Knapford Station

Take a ride on Thomas the Tank engine pulling Annie and Clarabel or Percy or Rosie through to Tidmouth Hault, situated within the Zoo area.

We found the queues for this very long, probably the longest within the park, so we decided to leave this till last. Annie and Clarabell have 6 carriages each seating between 4 - 6 people depending on your size and how many children you have and a separate section for pushchairs and prams. The journey only lasts about 5 minutes one way but by the time people and pushchairs have loaded on and off you are looking about 15 minutes. This ride closes for 1/2 hour at 4.30 to bring people back from the Zoo which closes are 4pm, the ride then reopens at 5pm for round journeys with a quick pit stop at Tidmouth Hault for Thomas, Percy or Rosie to get back to the front of the carriages. Along the way the route was nicely lit up with Christmas trees and various illuminated Christmas decorations with a few characters for the Thomas Stories.

Just over the bridge across the track a sleeping James can be found, Holly crept around him on tip toe so as not to wake in, the innocence of a child!
This ride has no minimum height restriction although children under 1 metre need to be accompanied by an Adult.

Troublesome Trucks Runaway Coaster

A 220 metre roller coaster that runs up and over Thomas Land

This consists of 5 carriages each seating 2 pairs of 2 people held in by bars. This for Holly was probably the best ride she went on and goes round twice and lasts about 4 minutes. I never went on, but Darren my Husband said the drop is quite steep but obviously not as steep as adult roller coasters. This was another popular ride and we queued for about 1/2 hour the both times Holly and Darren went on the ride.

This ride has a minimum height restriction of 0.9 metres and children less than 1.2 metres must be accompanied by an adult.

Photos, key rings or magnets with your photo sitting on the ride are available to purchase from a kiosk outside this ride at a cost of £5.00

Diesels Locomotion Mayhem

Join Iron Bert, Rusty, Mavis, Salty, Dennis and Diesel on a journey of near misses.

This is the Thomas version of the spinning tea cups but going in a figure 8 and once again Holly went on with Daddy, (Mummy doesn't do rides). This ride lasted about 3 minutes and from where I was standing, the ride looked very close for the near misses, however once again Holly enjoyed the ride.

Children less than 1.2 metres must be accompanied by an Adult

Jeremy's Flying Academy

This consists of 10 planes all connected by arms to one main spinning wheel and can fly as high as about 10 foot. Each plane sits 2 pairs of 2 people, and two adults can fly per plane. All seats have a steering wheel that doesn't control anything but the front people control how high or low you fly your plane. We queued for about 15 minutes but this was the first ride we went on and the ride lasts for about 3 minutes. Holly enjoyed controlling the height of this ride but failed to keep her finger on the button, so Daddy ended up operating this ride.

Children less than 1 metre must be accompanied by an adult

Crazy Bertie Bus

In the shape and style of Bertie bus but as a magic carpet style ride. The bus has 10 rows of seats, each row can sit up to 4 however one adult per row is allowed. We queued for this ride for about 15 minutes and the ride lasted about 3 minutes. As normal Holly enjoyed this ride.

Children under 0.95 metres must be accompanied by an adult

Harold's Helicopter Tours

This once again consisted of 10 helicopters all connected by arms to one main spinning wheel. This ride can not be controlled as to how high the ride goes and I estimated the ride goes up to about 8 metres. Each helicopter sits 4 people and up to two adults can ride per helicopter. We queued for about 30 minutes for this ride and it lasted for about 4 minutes and guess what, Holly enjoyed it. This ride is situated in a round shed, around the outside of the shed you can see Edward, Henry, Gordon, Toby and Rosie, where you can take a photo of your little one, however the children are not allowed to climb on the engines.

Children less than 1.05 metres must be accompanied by an adult

Rockin' Bulstrode

This is a rocking ride that rotates 360 degrees. It had 6 rows sitting up to 3 or 4, however only one adult can sit per row. We queued for about 20 minutes for this ride and Holly thoroughly enjoyed this ride but she had been on a similar type of ride at Butlins. Whilst we was there, the ride broke down for about 45 minutes and the ride operators tried repairing it but to no avail, once the man in the yellow coat appeared, it was back up and running in about 10 minutes.

Children less than 1.05 metres must be accompanied by an adult

Cranky's Drop Tower

This is a drop and bounce ride where you sit around the outside and are secured in by a padded harness that comes down over your head, it goes up to 8 metres high and Holly didn't fancy this ride so she never went on it.

Children must be 0.95 metres to ride on this ride

Sodor's Classic Cars

A nice easy ride where you pretend drive old fashioned cars along a road, through a couple of tunnels, one of which goes through the station masters office and another which goes through a barn with plastic animals. We went on this ride last off and queued for about 1 minute. The ride lasted about 2 minutes and you only go around the track once. Holly thoroughly enjoyed pretending to steer and told Daddy that she was driving like Mummy (that is probably why it only took a couple of minutes, she was driving too fast!)

This ride has no height restriction

Lady's Carousel

This is a very gentle ride for small children, unfortunately it wasn't operating.

Children under 0.9 metres must be accompanied by an Adult

Terence's Driving School

Children can drive digger machines around the track. This ride never seemed to have a queue and we never let Holly go on the ride. The children steer and drive and stop the digger themselves and we thought it was a bit inappropriate for Holly to go on. This ride has very strict height restrictions of between 1 metre and 1.3 metres and the children go on the ride on their own. It would probably suit boys more than girls and the attendant was very strict with the height and when she measured one little boy he reached the minimum height with his hood on but she made him take his hood off and when he measured under the minimum height she wouldn't let him on the ride.

Most of the above rides have minimum height restrictions of between 0.9 and 1.2 metres where the children need to be accompanied by an adult although every child we saw on all the rides were accompanied by adults anyway. It's a good excuse for adults to bring out the children in themselves!

Just outside Thomas Land and in the main park is Emily's Soft Play centre. For some reason, Holly who normally loves soft play wasn't interested, she wanted to make the most of going on the rides, I think she may have been thinking why waste my time on something I can do in the local town when there are all these rides to go on.

The park put on a live show of "Santa comes to Sodor" every hour and featured the fat controller and Santa, with songs and fake snow, we started to watch the show but it was our turn to have a journey on Thomas so we never actually finished watching the show although we did get to hear it whilst we was waiting for the rides.

Santa also pays a visit with a meet and greets and photo opportunity.

A couple of other rides in the main park were open and they of course were suitable for younger children.

The Carousel

No theme park would be complete without a gentle ride on the horse carousel and this was open. Holly had already been on this type of ride before and was happy to go on it again. Because this ride was outside Thomas Land, I don't think many people realised it was open as there was hardly any queue at all.

The Pirate Adventure

We never really got to check this ride out as Holly didn't like the look of it.

4D Cinema

The 4D Cinema was showing "The Light before Christmas" however we never got time to go into this but I think shows were every hour on the hour.

The Zoo

The Zoo was open from 12.00 until 4 pm and is about a 5 minute walk through the main park or a 5 minute ride on Thomas from Thomas Land. We walked down and were surprised at how many animals they have, around 100 animals including endangered species. We have Cats at home and Holly loved seeing the selection of Big and Little cats, I myself wanted to bring the Scottish wild cat home with me, the poor little thing about the size of a domestic cat and looked like a fluffy tabby was meowing and even Darren commented that it didn't look wild and had a domestic cat been locked in by mistake! The tigers walking around their enclosure looked fantastic and the black leopards looked very relaxed.

The monkeys were playing and seemed to be having fun. The Zoo also has a large selection of birds.

Holly was fascinated with the reptile house and was quite happy looking at the snakes and lizards, that was until she saw the tarantula spider, she soon shot out of the place, trying her best to overtake Mummy who was running at 300 mph!

Holly was also delighted to see the penguins and was shouting Pingu come here.

All the animals looked well cared for and seemed very happy with none of the pacing around looking stressed and bored and their enclosures looked clean which for me is the most important thing.

Situated in the centre of the Zoo is Spencer's Activity Park where children can climb on the wooden engines and play to their hearts content.

All children under the age of 9 can claim a free gift and it is collected from the museum located within the Zoo between the hours of 1 and 4pm, unfortunately when we got there, the queue was so long we would have probably wasted an hour and Holly would have rather have gone on the rides than have some cheap tacky toy.

Eating and Drinking

Because the main park was not open, not all the refreshment places were open and those that were, were packed. We stopped on the way there for something to eat and I'm glad we did, we did however later on stop and have a warm drink of extra sweet hot chocolate minus the chocolate flavour and dishwater coffee costing about £1.50 a cup but at least it was just warm. I noticed the prices of the hot dogs from where we got the drinks from and they cost £3.00.

Within Thomas Land, Cranky's refreshments selling the hot dogs and Knapford Station Cafe bar selling sandwiches were open, both were outside eating places however both were covered with marques and (environmentally friendly people look away) filled with patio heaters to ward off the cold.

Within the main park were the coffee stop, First and Last Cafe Bar, and Buccaneer Food court and takeaway all serving food. We never actually looked at what they were serving and all seemed very busy.

Within the Zoo the Rainforest Pizzeria and Takeaway was open but only at weekends.

Toilets and Baby changing are situated at various places over the park, they seemed fairly clean even by the end of the day and once again the entrances we covered with marques tents and had patio heaters in to take the chill off.

Shops on Site

Thomas Land Shop - This shop was chock-a-block with Thomas Goodies, we bought three items, one a Thomas step and chair which cost us £9.95 and is nearly £15.00 on Amazon and the other was a Thomas Crazy Golf Set which cost us £19.95 but that is £2.00 cheaper on Amazon and the other was a personalised Birthday card which cost £1.50 but costs £1.75 on the internet. So I would say the prices are quite reasonable in the shop which surprised me.

The Zoo shop is open at weekends only but we never found that shop, I presume it must be within the Museum and would sell cuddly animals.

The Emporium - This shop is situated outside the entrance and is only open for the last few hours every day. We didn't go in the shop, we were cold, Holly was tired and we just wanted to get back to the car.

Prices for the Magical Christmas only:

Children aged 4 and over and Adults £16.00 each
Children aged 2 - 3 are £11.00 each
Children aged under 2 are free

I tried to book online but their website wasn't working, so I rung up and booked and paid for my tickets over the phone, I was glad I did, tickets booked and paid for in advance receive a discount of £1.00 per person, which does make a pleasant change as normally when you pay for something in advance you get charged a booking fee.

Drayton Manor's Magical Christmas 2009 at Thomas Land is open from 28th November 2009 and finishes on 3rd January 2010, it is closed 24th, 25th and 26th December. Opening hours are Monday to Friday, Staffordshire Schools Term Time 12 till 5pm and weekends and Staffordshire school holidays 12 till 6pm.

All in all I'm really glad we spotted the TV advert, we had no idea that Drayton Manor even had a Thomas Land and as far as I'm concerned the £40.00 we spent for the 3 tickets was well worth the money, Holly, Mummy and Daddy had a fantastic day even though we went on a Sunday and the park was busy. We got there just after 12.00 and left just before 6pm so really had a good lenght of time there but still missed the shows but the day was certainly long enough for a nearly 4 year old.They have really made the effort to make the place magical for children with Christmas decorations and lights. The Knapworth station had a Christmas tree and large Garlands hanging from the roof, a large Christmas tree was situated within the main park and when it got dark the lights looked beautiful.

One thing that did strike me was that all the children were well behaved, nobody was complaining about the queues and all the children queued very well, I think the excitement of the day was too much for children to play up.

We shall be certainly visiting again during the summer and would not hesitate at going back next Christmas for the day, I would certainly recommend a visit if you get the chance, any Thomas fan will love it no matter how old they are.

Drayton Manor can be found in Tamworth Staffordshire B78 3TW, telephone number 0844 472 1960 and www.draytonmanor.co.uk.

Many thanks for reading. Anna

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Comments on this review

  • TheHairyGodmother published 03/12/2010
    been here, loved it!
  • Alyson29 published 22/11/2010
    I'm back with an E as promised x
  • Alyson29 published 20/11/2010
    A lovely read. I will return on Monday with an E x
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Product Information : Drayton Manor Park, Birmingham

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Park

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City: Birmingham

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