Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Thomas Land ~ Drayton Manor - A Magical Christmas Trip!

Thomas Land is a Thomas the Tank Engine theme park based in Drayton Manor just outside Birmingham and if you have little ones the ideal short break from Dublin. 

Getting there is really easy & you have a choice of Aer Lingus or Ryanair flights direct from Dublin for the hour long flight. We usually fly Ryanair paying about €160 return for 2 adults & 4 children including all taxes & charges.

Knapford Station ('The Fat Controller - I KNOW HIM!!')

The best option we have found is to book a taxi ahead of our flight from Tamworth Taxis so it’s waiting for us at the airport when we arrive. 

Another option is to get the train but when you are travelling as a family it’s just as expensive for the train as it is for a taxi. We pay £25 for 6 of us to our hotel that’s located in Tamworth 20 minutes drive from the airport.

Terence’s driving school

I really like the Holiday Express Inn in Tamworth. It’s usually £50 per night for a family room B&B. As it’s a business hotel they don't have a restaurant but that’s the best bit as they have all local takeaway menus so you order in. You can sit in the breakfast area & they'll give you plates & cutlery. We found it much cheaper than eating at restaurants each night with children!

There is a shopping centre a five minute walk from hotel, where you will find an Asda to stock up on drinks & treats for in Thomas Land. The Snow Dome is on the same grounds as the hotel (indoor skiing, tobogganing & a pool) a cinema with a bowling alley are located directly across the road.


We get a taxi to Drayton Manor from the hotel which is about £6 for 6 of us. You can't buy tickets online for Drayton from Ireland (stupid I know!) You can buy them on the day but the hotel also sells them for a couple of pound cheaper per ticket than at the gate at Drayton. 

Gate prices are age 2-3 years old is £5, 4-11 years £27 & 12-59 years £36. One year we got a great deal on tickets from Lastminute.com, they had a 2 for 1 deal.

Cranky the Crane

Once inside, it’s not just Thomas Land that you have access to, but the whole of Drayton Manor theme park. There is also a Zoo, Dinosaur Park, 4D cinema, an indoor play area & lots of other rides that children can go on. Ours really loved the views from the Ferris wheel and the cable car.

Ben 10 Roller Coaster

The usual fast food is available but if you go on the Thomas train & get off at Tidmouth Halt, you’ll find Mrs Kindley’s Kitchen. A lovely train station cafe where you can buy home cooked food like a baked potato & beans or pies. 

Prices are quite good here for food with children’s meals priced at £3.95 for a sandwich, crisps, fruit bag & a drink.

Bertie the Bus

We’ve gone at different times of the year but by far our favourite time to go is late November when it's Drayton’s Magical Christmas. The whole of Thomas Land is beautifully decorated for the festive season. The 4D movie is changed to a condensed version of The Polar Express.

Christmas at Knapford Station

As most of Drayton Manor is closed down during this time, prices are cheaper. Gate prices are 2-3 years £10, 4-11 years £15 & 12-59 years £20. This price gives you access to over 20 rides in Thomas Land & a couple of other rides in Drayton that are still open. 

Entrance to the Castle of Dreams & a visit to Santa are also included. It’s the best organised Santa Visit I’ve seen so far, as they have lots of Santa’s in different rooms but the children don’t see this. It just ensures minimal waiting time at peak times!

Feeling Festive

The gift that they receive from Santa is really lovely. Contained in the gift bag is a Santa chocolate lolly, a return pass for the following year & a silver bell just like the one from The Polar Express!

Castle of Dreams

In Thomas Land they have the world’s largest Thomas the Tank Engine shop. Prices are ok but if, like us, you have more than one child it gets very expensive very fast. I usually buy Thomas things like t-shirts or engines that I see on sale before we go & bring them with us! I also buy Thomas party bags & fill them with a small colouring book, crayons, lolly & a toy for on the flight. So when we go to the Thomas shop in Thomas Land I just buy the children cheap things badges & flags, saves a fortune!

Realistically you’d only really need one day at Thomas Land. So check back next week when I tell you where we go for our second day in Birmingham!

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