Drayton Manor & Thomas Land :: Our experience.

A couple of weeks ago we visited Drayton Manor in Tamworth. The boys have been begging and begging for months to go back, but to be completely honest, I’ve been telling them no because we are saving for our big trip to DisneyWorld. They can’t have it all, which is something that both frustrates and perplexes them… money grows on trees, right?

Anyhoo, we finally caved and I organised for a day off school for Reuben to have a surprise trip. Why I hear you cry? Well, the last time we visited it was both the school holidays AND a weekend – never again. It was so busy that you couldn’t move and there is no option to buy a fast pass for Thomasland, so we spent over an hour queing for a 2.4min ride. Not. Cool. Says the lady going to DisneyWorld where 4 hour queues are common… Anyway, for this type of day trip, I would recommend going during school term time and definitely mid week, there were no queues, no hassle and it was generally quiet and easy to navigate with a child, toddler and baby in a HUGE pushchair.

To further on that point, recommend Drayton Manor and Thomasland I most certainly would! There really are very few places with something for everyone – our very own theme park Flamingo Land, which is literally biking distance from our house, has a few rides for smaller kids and a fabulous zoo, but nothing to equal Drayton Manor for it’s entertainment for the under 10s. I feel like this is the type of place I will be able to take my children for years and years to come, somewhere my husband and I could visit with our mates instead of our kids and not feel like we are being thrown the questioning eye as to why we are there.

Thomasland is obviously the huge attraction for my boys, there obsession runs almost as deep as mine with wine and cake. They are 5 and 3 now so for them the fantasy and reality is still combined, the excitement clear on their rosy cheeks when they see Thomas, Percy and the gang.

To give you an idea of what we went on, we trialled pretty much every ride in Thomasland, with the boys declaring their favourites in rapid succession depending on which ride they had been on last. Reuben took some coaxing to go on the Troublesome Trucks roller coaster but then decided it was his ultimate favourite and rode it three times. In succession. Toby preferred the more relaxed ride on Percy, which took you from the Zoo back to Knapford Station, the throbbing heart of Thomasland. This time we ran out time to visit the soft play area, but that was a firm favourite too when we have been before and ideal for parents who want to sit down, chill out or need to feed a hungry baby *waves*. The only ride the boys can assure you they hated with a fiery passion was “Cranky the Crane” because of the loud noises it made as it dropped the rider down from a 10-15ft height. It freaked them both out and they wouldn’t go within the vicinity again.

It’s not just Thomasland that appealed to my boys, there are arcades nearby and plenty of little rides that aren’t Thomas themed that are suitable for them, like Ben 10. There is also the Yogi Bear 3D cinema which they have refused to go into every time, an adventure golf area (something we’ve never tried because you just don’t have time in one day) and the zoo, which was the ultimate fun for Edith, who promptly jumped out of her pushchair and splashed through every puddle she could. I find the animal enclosures at Drayton Manor are a little unloved and forlorn looking. I like zoo animals to look like they are well kept and happy, and sadly this wasn’t the case with all of the animals there. The tiger enclosure has very little privacy and I thought it was pretty small for such a large cat, but then, a zoo is going to have it’s limits. In addition to the Zoo there is a massive Dinosaur area, which we just loved and all three of the kids learnt so much there.

For the older kids, there was plenty and this is really why I feel the Drayton Manor tips the balance of theme park awesomeness in it’s favour.

I am not a theme park kinda gal, gone are the days of feeling peer pressure to ride the “big ones” until I threw up whatever additive packed food I had shovelled in my teenage chops 15 minutes beforehand, but having three kids, I can see that I will soon be joining the back-patting parents of kids who have indeed succumbed to the “big rides”. There are plenty of big rides at Drayton Manor, especially for thrill seekers.

My only complaint was The Grill Inn, where we went to eat around lunchtime. The day we visited was clammy and wet, it poured with rain two or three times, so there was no way we were going to sit out in the rain eating food from a kiosk. Nope, we chose to enjoy a “proper” meal. To be totally honest, I wish we hadn’t. The food was nice but totally overpriced – though I expected that with such a captive audience – my issue wasn’t with the food, rather with the staff and their lax attitude. We were the only people in the restaurant when we went up but it still took 25 minutes to get drinks, and over an hour to get food. We ordered a burger, fajitas and 2 chicken nuggets with chips and peas because they were out of beans. Hardly the type of food to take so long to cook. The waiting staff were absent at best, and deliberately ignored you at the worst. I can honestly say I wouldn’t recommend eating at the Grill Inn at all, a total waste of time you could have spent in the fabulous theme park, not to mention Β£55 for a basic meal that would have no doubt been better or just the same at the burger bar in Thomasland.

So to summarise Drayton Manor in a quick way for those of you flicking through:

……………………..

Park (out of 5, 5 being the best):

Overall: 4.5

Zoo: 3

Thomasland: 5

Friendliness of staff in the park: 4

Cleanliness: 5

Range of things to do: 5

Child friendly: 5

Ease of pushchair use: 5

Dining options: 4

Cost: 4 – bit on the high side, but worth it.

……………………….

The Grill Inn Restaurant (out of 5, 5 being the best):

Overall: 2.5

Food: 3

Friendliness of staff: 1

Cleanliness: 5

Cost: 2

Menu options: 4

Location: 1

…………………………

I hope this inspires you to give Drayton Manor a visit, it’s not just for Thomas the tank engine fans, but it is pretty awesome!

H x

58 Comments

  1. Avatar July 4, 2016 / 8:55 pm

    Looks like brilliant fun! E would really struggle with a place like this which is a huge shame as he loves trains and dinosaurs! I love that pic of them headbutting! Maybe when he is a bit older and able to communicate about his sensory overload a bit more. Though then he will probably have outgrown the trains and dinosaurs!

    • Harriet July 5, 2016 / 9:15 am

      Yes, wait until he’s a bit older for sure, and try to avoid a weekend or holiday *if* you can – it gets super busy and he may find that harder. I think it’s great because there would still be tonnes for him to do when he’s older and he won’t have to miss out!

  2. Avatar July 3, 2016 / 3:37 pm

    Oh it looks like everyone had a great time! Love the pic with the dinosaurs in it πŸ™‚ Shame about the restaraunt staff but I’m pleased it didn’t completely ruin the experience for you all! x

    • Harriet July 5, 2016 / 9:35 am

      Thanks lovely, it was really great!

    • Harriet July 5, 2016 / 9:37 am

      I think all kids are at one point or another!

  3. Avatar June 30, 2016 / 9:08 pm

    Looks like you all had an amazing time!! I would love to take my nephew and nieces there!!

  4. Avatar June 29, 2016 / 6:06 pm

    Such a shame about the restaurant! Never visited before but I think I might soon!

    • Harriet June 30, 2016 / 10:49 am

      I know! I wasn’t pleased, but we loved loved loved the theme park!

  5. Avatar June 29, 2016 / 5:09 pm

    I have been wanting to take my girls there for ages but wasn’t quite sure if it was worth it. Fantastic photos and a great review post

    • Harriet June 30, 2016 / 10:50 am

      It genuinely is. Every penny!!

  6. Avatar June 29, 2016 / 1:52 pm

    Your trip looks like so much fun! I bet Leo would totally love a day out like this.

    • Harriet June 30, 2016 / 10:50 am

      Oh go, it was awesome!

  7. Avatar June 29, 2016 / 11:46 am

    My nephew is going here for a surprise birthday trip and he will absolutely love it, he is Thomas and James obsessed x

    • Harriet June 30, 2016 / 10:56 am

      Oh he will have the best time ever!

  8. Avatar
    nicol
    June 29, 2016 / 11:34 am

    ive never been to drayton manor as a child. this looks so much fun and never realised theres thomas land

    • Harriet June 30, 2016 / 10:56 am

      Yes, it’s a fab part of it!

  9. Avatar June 29, 2016 / 11:26 am

    My sister is thinking of taking her kids here in two weeks time, as it’s her little boys 3rd birthday. I will have to tell her to go through the week than the weekend, as her little boy is currently poorly fighting a brain tumour and he wont be able to cope with queuing for too long

    • Harriet June 30, 2016 / 10:57 am

      Oh I am so so sorry to hear this, you can get disability passes, maybe tell her to contact them at the help desk and ask for aid πŸ™‚ H xxx

  10. Avatar June 29, 2016 / 10:43 am

    I’ve not been to Drayton Manor but I think my little boy would love it! What a shame about the restaurant though, especially as it sounds like it was quiet, they didn’t really have an excuse did they?

    • Harriet June 30, 2016 / 11:01 am

      Nope – I would recommend the restaurant, but there were so many other ones to go to so I’d try one of them!

  11. Avatar June 29, 2016 / 9:31 am

    Sounds like a great place to visit, but such a shame about the food! Hopefully they’ll read this and Buck up their act.

  12. Avatar June 29, 2016 / 3:02 am

    I used to be absolutely obsessed with Thomas The Tank as a child. I would have loved to have visited here xxx

    • Harriet June 30, 2016 / 11:02 am

      Ahhh my boys adore it!

  13. Avatar June 29, 2016 / 2:23 am

    I can definitely see why you like this park! It sounds fun and it’s nice that there are so many fun attractions outside of Thomas Land.

    • Harriet June 30, 2016 / 11:02 am

      I can’t recommend it enough!

  14. Avatar June 28, 2016 / 11:54 pm

    I live not to far from Drayton Manor and I haven’t been for ages – I used to really enjoy it πŸ™‚ x

  15. Avatar June 28, 2016 / 9:40 pm

    Oh this does sound fun. The rides look great and i’m sure its somewhere sylvia would love to visit some time. Sorry to hear the staff were so lax. I agree meals are genuinely more expensive at places like this.

  16. Avatar
    Jessica McDonnell
    June 28, 2016 / 9:40 pm

    Thomas land looks so cute, I used to love Thomas the Tank Engine when I was little

  17. Avatar June 28, 2016 / 9:22 pm

    My brother, when he was young, he loved Thomas the Train! I am so glad your family had such a fun day! I loved your pictures! Cute kids!

  18. Avatar June 28, 2016 / 9:16 pm

    We went last summer for the first time and loved it – although it rained ALL day! It is a great place – shame about your dining experience. Kaz x

    • Harriet June 30, 2016 / 11:08 am

      Hmm it rained for us too but it was still fab!

  19. Avatar June 28, 2016 / 9:07 pm

    Every little one loves Thomas, don’t they? Lucky kids (and clever Mummy) to go when it was so quiet and they could get to go on everything. My hubby hates theme parks, but I’m pushing for the big Disney trip before my kids get much older. Can’t wait to read about your Disney experience – when is it?

  20. Avatar June 28, 2016 / 8:48 pm

    Wow it looks brilliant there, I’d love to take my little man, he’d love it!

    • Harriet June 30, 2016 / 11:08 am

      He really would! give it a go!

  21. Avatar June 28, 2016 / 8:40 pm

    I can’t believe that the Grill Inn made you wait so long for food that is a pain but glad you enjoyed the rest of your day regardless x

    • Harriet June 30, 2016 / 11:09 am

      Yes, I can’t recommend the theme park enough, but not the Inn!

  22. Avatar June 28, 2016 / 8:26 pm

    I don’t think if I took my nephew he would ever leave, looks and sounds like an amazing place to visit and spend some time.

    • Harriet June 30, 2016 / 11:09 am

      Haha the boys cried when we left!

  23. Avatar June 28, 2016 / 7:39 pm

    I’ve never been here! Thomas the Tank Engine seems to be the one kids’ character my two are not yet obsessed with, but bet they’d still love the park. The dinosaur area sounds really good. Shame about the Inn. (Lucy/R is for Hoppit)

    • Harriet June 30, 2016 / 11:09 am

      Give them time! Thomas comes to us all!

  24. Avatar June 28, 2016 / 5:34 pm

    My nephews would love to visit Thomasland, i so need to take them, it would be a great day out πŸ˜‰

    • Harriet June 30, 2016 / 11:10 am

      So much fun πŸ™‚

    • Harriet June 30, 2016 / 11:11 am

      Yes, so much fun, I wish we lived a bit closer!

  25. Avatar June 28, 2016 / 12:36 pm

    I know some of my friends with kids would love to visit here. x

    • Harriet June 30, 2016 / 11:12 am

      Tell them about it, their kids will love you πŸ˜‰

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