On Wednesday we attended a very special blogging event held at Drayton Manor the home of Thomas Land. As you can probably imagine, with two train mad toddlers here this has caused much excitement in our house for the last few weeks. They LOVE Thomas (and all his friends) so I knew this was the perfect event for us. The blogging event was to celebrate the release of the latest Thomas film ‘The Tale of the Brave’ and as part of our visit to Drayton Manor, we were asked to watch the film in 4D at their special cinema on site, then we got to explore Drayton Manor and of course check out all the Thomas Land rides!
The night before I decided to book into the local Travelodge (Tamworth) which is just a few miles from the park. It’s a great location and I’d recommend it, although if you did want to splash out, Drayton Manor Hotel have the most fantastic looking Thomas themed rooms, which I think I will book our next visit, as it’s placed a stones throw from the park, they host have Thomas character breakfasts and entertainment is provided in the Summer months, which sounds fun!
After a few hours drive to Tamworth, the kids were very excited about Thomas Land, this photograph was taken at 10pm, with no sign of them going to sleep. They just looked like Bert and Ernie in their little beds!
So the morning finally arrived and after a stop off for coffee and breakfast we landed at Drayton Manor. We collected our tickets and then headed to the cinema to meet the lovely PR team. We were a little early and so had twenty minutes at the zoo area first. The kids loved the monkeys, the reptile house and the meerkats. (They have been obsessed with meerkats ever since my Mum presented them with a baby Oleg last weekend!)
Then it was time to enter the cinema. We were given popcorn and drinks, and the kids had some time to play with and sample some of the Thomas toys whilst I chatted and met some of the other bloggers. Then the Fat Controller arrived! All the children loved it, and he posed for photos, chatted to all the guests. When it was time to enter the cinema he lead us inside to the cinema, and we noticed the steam (frozen ice) on the stage. It looked fantastic! The kids loved it and it really whet our whistle (excuse the pun) for the new film!
The visit to Drayton Manor cinema was a first visit to the cinema for both our children. I admit I was apprehensive about them becoming fidgety and possibly noisy! But actually as the film is only an hour-long, and it was something they are really interested in, they really enjoyed it. They sat really nicely in the auditorium (the seats were mega comfy too, which helped) and watched the film to the end. The Tale of the Brave is essentially a modern-day fable. I will not spoil the plot for you, but after seeing some footprints at the local mine Thomas is worried that there are some monsters living there, and becomes understandably frightened! Thomas and his friends attempt to deal with the situation and hit a few hurdles along the way. They all learn some valuable lessons though! Ultimately the moral of the story is that being brave isn’t about how scared you are, it’s about how you deal with and act when feeling scared, and the film highlights that we can always help our friends when they are scared by being supportive and offering advice! The story was perhaps a little complex for my two (age just 20 months and just three) but they still really enjoyed it, and loved the whole cinema experience. I would certainly feel happy taking them again anyway! We haven’t seen any of the previous Thomas films, but after seeing this one, we will also be seeking them out, perhaps Father Christmas will bring some in a few months too.
After being handed out fantastic goodie bags packed with LOTS of Thomas fun including DVDs, chocolates, toys and of course trains! We were all set for a few hours in Thomas Land. The park was not busy at all, and this meant no queuing at all! It was great. We were pleased to see that there was plenty of room to leave prams and pushchairs (we happily left ours with the changing bag until we needed it later) and walked around Thomas Land taking it all in! Early this Summer we visited Cbeebies Land at Alton Towers and although we had a fun day, I genuinely think that Thomas Land is better. Simply, because it has been thought out. Thomas Land isn’t a set of rides that have been re painted and renamed, the rides are quite clearly original and Thomas themed, the spacing and order of the rides didn’t go unnoticed. All the vehicle rides together, and the pretend docklands and Cranky ride next to each other. The design of the perimeter wall of the helicopter ride was a great idea, the fronts of each of the characters had their own ‘photo opportunity’ area, it was a great use of space and we were impressed. I think that it makes it extra special for children, when they can learn and notice these types of things. We also loved the Drayton Manor train, and the lovely little train ride, spotting all the friendly animals en route!
Outside of Thomas Land there are plenty of rides for toddlers, which again is well thought out. Gabriel didn’t mind leaving the Thomas area, because he spotted the Carousel! We took a ride on a chicken (random but hilarious!) and even posed for a quick selfie! Willow had a nap and slept whilst we had a good walk around the park and the lake. Gabriel loved watching all the ‘big’ rides and found the log flume hilarious to see, I think he was rather baffled about why people wanted to get so wet! Willow enjoyed being outside all day too and when it all became too much for her, it was nothing a few chocolate digestives couldn’t solve!
The kids really enjoyed exploring Thomas Land and we will certainly return. The trains are colourful, great quality and the park itself is extremely tidy and fun. Gabriel and Willow adored seeing Thomas, and their little faces when they saw the trains were truly magical! We went on every ride in Thomas Land and the kids enjoyed them all. Gabriel even rode his first ever rollercoaster, which was an experience. I do not think he realised just how fast ride would go, and we sat right at the back, you can guess the rest (and see from the photograph below)! He did say he liked it afterwards though!
Another great point about Drayton Manor and Thomas Land is that there are plenty of rides suitable for all the family. I think there were just a few that Willow could not ride (she is 80cm ish) and we just decided to do those when she was napping to avoid any difficulties. We also took our own lunch, for two reasons. Firstly because I know from experience that theme park food is expensive, and I also feel it often wastes time eating in cafes or restaurants at busy lunch time periods. So, we had a picnic on one of the many benches available at the park. I did notice however that there were plenty of eateries and they were not far from the rides.
Overall, we had a great day at Thomas Land Drayton Manor. It’s not as action packed as Alton Towers or Thorpe Park, but now we have children those white knuckle rides are not necessarily what we are looking for anymore! Don’t get me wrong, I love rides, but this day out was about the kids and their love of Thomas and Friends! I did however get the chance to go on ONE adult ride. The Shockwave! It was a little like Nemesis at Alton Towers, and it was fun! Here I am in the photograph below with my new friend!
I purchased a set of four photographs from Drayton Manor for £20, which included digital downloads codes, which I thought was reasonable. The quality isn’t fantastic, but taking photographs on the rides is sometimes rather difficult, and so I thought it was worth it!
If you haven’t been to Thomas Land at Drayton Manor I would highly recommend it, especially if you have toddlers or young children. There is however, plenty to do for everyone! So why not pay them a visit? Drayton Manor have some very special Christmas events planned this year where you and your family can hang out with Thomas and his friends with Santa! Visit their website for more details
I also spied lots of building work and updates being made to Thomas Land, so watch this space for a bigger and better Thomas Land for 2015! We are VERY excited!
Disclosure: We were invited to enjoy a complimentary visit to Drayton Manor and to enjoy the new Thomas film ‘A Tale of the Brave’ at their cinema in return for a review, all views and opinions are my own. I have not been paid to write this blog post.