Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Drayton’s Magical Christmas in Thomas Land!

We were invited to Drayton Manor Theme Park home of Thomas Land for Drayton’s Magical Christmas and boy was it magical! Thomas Land is located in Staffordshire a stone’s throw from Birmingham. We have been a few times over the years, read all about that HERE; but not since their recent expansion. I assure you Thomas Land is not just for boys; our 9 year old twin daughters loved just as much as our three boys.

In September I bagged bargain flights for 2 adults, 4 children and an infant direct to Birmingham with Ryanair for just €79 return. Flying out at 10am Friday morning and returning at 8pm on Sunday night. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Tamworth a short distance from Thomas Land. On average rooms cost £50 per night B&B for 2 adults and 2 children.

After breakfast on Saturday morning we hopped in a taxi for the short ride to Drayton Manor costing just £7 for 7 of us. While rides don’t start till 10:30am the park is open from 9:45am, we decided to get there early to avoid the crowds at the entrance. We needn’t have worried as there were lots of staff on hand to keep the queues moving swiftly through the gates. As we got to the gates we received a surprise of Thomas Land scratch cards, my son’s were thrilled to win a 70th anniversary Thomas pin and a Thomas the Tank Engine book which we collected at the shop once we were inside.

We were initially disappointed to see that the barrel ride, shootout and the haunted house were closed for the season as in previous years they were open but later when we saw the extension we realised we wouldn’t have had time for lots of the Thomas rides if these were open. I wrote in my last post about only needing one day on Thomas Land well with the new extension I take that back, you’d most likely need two days as we didn’t even have time to visit the zoo to see the reindeer.

My top tip if you are going to visit Santa is to try to get as early a time slot as possible, ours was 10:15amand it was fantastic no queuing at all. We were ushered inside the Castle of Dreams by two really friendly elves and as we got to the door each of my children were given a gorgeous Drayton’s Magical Christmas medal on a lanyard, a lovely keepsake for years to come. Santa was brilliant, really lovely with the children and greeted them as if he’d know them for years mentioning that they’d grown since he last saw them with got a giggle from our 7 year old. 

It was great that he mentioned that their rooms were looking a bit untidy that they really should clean them more often and that he overheard an argument between them a few weeks ago which elicited some guilty looks. He then made a deal with them if they promised to be good he’d do his best to bring them what they asked for.

We bought one of the pictures Santa took of him with the children for £10; you also get a code to go online & download it for yourself too, which I thought was great to use for our Christmas cards this year. We spent about 10 minutes in the next room in the castle where there was face painting, colouring in stations and you could write and post your magical wish in the letterbox provided. Three of my little ones got a lovely snowman painted on their cheeks. This was free of charge unlike Cadbury World who charges £5 for face painting. The Santa gift they received contained a giant chocolate coin, a Drayton Manor Magical Christmas money box and a Golden Ticket which entitles the child to free entry to the park during 2016 with a fee paying adult.

Within about 30 minutes we were back out and in the queue for the Jolly Buccaneer a firm favourite among my children for years. My brother and sister in law drove from Wales to meet us with their 2 year old son; they arrived just as we came out from Santa. It was really lovely to see them and have a chance to catch up in a wonderful Christmas environment for the children.

The morning went in a whirlwind of queues and rides. The queues weren’t actually that bad we only spent about 15 minutes in each; if the queue was too long we skipped it and came back later. The additional rides in the extension are fantastic we had a go on Captain’s Sea Adventure, Toby’s Tram Express and Blue Mountain but by far my 4 year olds' favourite was Flynn’s Fire Rescue.

At lunch time we decided to drop into The Burger Kitchen for food, here the queues were very long and we spent about 40 minutes waiting. We sat outside under the heat lamps but it was a really breezy day so we had to try keeping a hold of everything while we ate as there were no sides on the awning. We availed of the family meal deal of 2 adults & 2 children’s burger meals for £20 and purchased an extra 2 children’s meals which brought our bill to about £30/€42. The chips and drink were fine but we weren’t impressed with the quality of the meat in the burgers.

Our children ate later at The Lakeside Teashop and the food was much better quality, the kiosk was an enclosed tent so the wind didn’t bother us either. My husband brought 4 of our children to The Polar Express 4-D Experience while I stayed behind to feed the baby. I got a bottle of milk and a scoop of mash potatoes with gravy for the baby and I treated myself to a mulled wine. I couldn’t believe the price, only £2.75 for a mulled wine, I was given the baby food & milk for free. Top class customer care as they had seen we bought a meal for our other children a short time before. 

Throughout the day there are numerous Christmas shows held on the balcony at Knapford Station we caught the 12:30 show Thomas and the lost Christmas card, our little ones loved the show and sang along with the songs. They were amazed when it began to “snow”! The whole park was decorated amazingly well for the festive season especially the giant Christmas tree that has light shows twice an hour throughout the day.

We waited till the end of the day to board Thomas, Annie & Clarabel for a train ride to the other end of the park. We find this is the best time because when you wait till later there are far less queues and you don’t have to get off and queue again at the other end as it’s a round trip. Also it’s beautiful to see the penguins and other Christmas decorations lit up after dark along the way. 

Thomas the Tank Engine was decorated beautifully as Rudolph with a bright shiny red nose and antlers complete with tiny white lights, my son Cillian’s face lit up when he saw him. When we got off the train there was no queue for Cranky Crane Tower Drop so our little ones ran over for one last go. There were squeals of delight as they saw the firework display over the lake from up high on the ride.

As we waited for our taxi to come collect us we rambled over to the Drayton Manor hotel which is a Thomas themed hotel. Lots of models of characters from the books greet you in reception; there’s also a gorgeous carousel and a Thomas gift shop. We had a blast at Thomas Land this year and we most definitely will be back again!

Tell us, have you been to Thomas Land yet? Think you might? 

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