Drayton Manor is a family friendly theme park located in Tamworth in the West Midlands. Unlike many of the biggies such as Alton Towers and Thorpe Park, Drayton Manor is on a smaller scale with an enhanced focus on its younger visitors. This comes largely in the shape and form of Thomas Land.
Any train mad toddlers will flock directly to this zone. It recently opened up a new section making it nearly double the size and with a dozen or so rides, families could quite easily while away the entire day here.
Thomas Land is a hive of activity with a mixture of rides, play areas and displays. Inevitably the queues can be a bit of a pain, peak times and slower rides do cause queues to build up. My young toddlers are quite patient, however other children are less so. My top tips would be to head over first thing and then again at the end of the day when the park is quietening down and other families have moved away from Thomas Land. Likewise choosing to go on a rainy day may mean packing some additional waterproofs but my toddlers take more than some rain to dampen their spirits!
Within Thomas Land all of Thomas’ well-known friends are present and each ride is themed so you will find Bertie Bus, a rotating wheel that makes for plenty of giggles for kids and adults alike; Sodor Classic Cars and my children’s favourite, Jeremy’s Jet Flying Academy, a button-controlled flying plane.
Emily’s Play Area is a welcome addition without queues and gives the kids time to run around with the freedom to burn off some energy. It’s a three-storey soft play area for younger children filled with slides, ball machines and the usual soft play obstacles. It states that time is capped at 15-minute slots but we stayed over that time and I didn’t notice anyone being moved on.
An outdoor option is also Spencer’s Adventure Play area, set outside of the Thomas Land complex, accessible via the zoo or one of the engines that arrive to a fanfare with the Fat Controller ferrying guests in and out of Thomas Land. It’s a one of a kind super sized play area built over numerous low levels that will keep little ones occupied for ages.
If the Thomas music and themes get too much, I’d highly recommend exploring the rest of the park. It is very family orientated so parents after copious amounts of thrills and spills may be disappointed, but younger visitors will be delighted by the range of soft rollercoasters, 4D cinematic experiences, and popular theme park rides on offer. My pair took a big liking to the carousel; a bonus as there was hardly a wait to go on, along with the Yogi Bear 4D cinema experience. Older children will be happy with the choice too, with a strong range of rides with a lower height limit such the Ben 10 and a Buffalo rollercoasters.
While there has clearly been investment into the park, Drayton Manor has a very old-fashioned feel. You will find many traditional-style fair rides such as dodgems, steamboat on the lake, chairlift and Wild West shootouts. There’s a saying that the oldies are the goodies and this rings true with these family faves. Theme park junkies will enjoy stomach-churning rollercoater G-Force, and the novel stand up rollercoaster, Shockwave, not one for the fainthearted!
In addition, Drayton Manor also features a zoo. We found it the perfect respite from the madness of the main areas to enjoy lunch and have some more chilled time. The reptile room will captivate little eyes with a range of snakes, lizards, turtles and such alike. There’s also a wide range of exotic birds, owls and meerkats, however these all pale in comparison to the howling monkeys that are jovially shouting and cooing amongst each other.
For more information on Drayton Manor visit www.draytonmanor.co.uk
Under 2s – Free
Aged 2- 3 – £5.00
Aged 4+ – Prices start from £15.00