I am so excited to share our first visit to Thomas Land at Drayton Manor, we had an incredible time and thought it might be helpful if you have children the same age on what to expect from a visit.
We took our sons ages 3 and 8 months, in June during term time, our eldest has yet to start nursery and so as we are not constrained by a school timetable yet and it was brilliant to visit during the off peak times.
An added bonus to visiting during the school week was the excellent ticket prices on offer, we were able to choose the Adult and Toddler Ticket for £20 online and then purchase an additional adult ticket for £18 on the day subject to availability, so I would recommend if you choose this option to be there when the park opens.
Nathanael our eldest is a huge Thomas the Tank Engine fan, this may have been encouraged by his Mum who was also a huge Thomas fan growing up.
Nate was only six months when we purchased him his first train set, and he will spend many a happy hour constructing elaborate tracks with his Dad. Last summer being heavily pregnant we really didn’t have the chance to visit many places as a family, so we were all looking forward to our trip to see Thomas and his friends.
Nathanael’s face beamed when he saw the entrance to Thomas Land, we managed just to get a few photos before chasing him inside.
As you enter Thomas Land you will see Knapford Station where Thomas, Percy and Rosie can take you on a ride through Drayton Manor, stopping at the zoo. We were so busy in Thomas Land for the day we didn’t get a chance to do this, but we loved watching the trains come in and out, they turn the engine around at the end so its a great way for children to watch the characters they know and love.
We headed straight for Harold’s Helicopters Tours which I guessed would be one of Nathanael’s favourite rides, if you have a child under 1.05m you will have to accompany them which Nate loved to drive Mummy and Daddy around. Harold’s Helicopter Tour like its name would suggest takes you up in the air, and you are able to see the overview of Thomas Land itself.
There were no queues when we visited but I can imagine that this one is very popular, surrounding the outside of Harold’s ride are various engines in their sheds which is a great place to take some photos.
Another ride in this section of Thomas Land that Nathanael enjoyed was Rocking Bulstrode, Nathanael has always been an outdoorsy, adventurous boy and he is never sick. I would caution parents with children who are prone to motion sickness that this probably isn’t the ride for them, it moves you side to side, up and down, turns you all over the place and Nathanael found it all hilarious, there were others however who were looking a little green!
After the success of the Harold ride we went in search of Jeremy Jet’s Flying Academy, next to the Sodor Airport which happens to be a cafe. Nathanael loves Jeremy, for months whenever we would spot a plane flying over head Nathanael would declare “Look! It’s Jeremy” so I knew this would be the perfect ride for him. Jeremy Jet’s Flying Academy is similar to Harold’s except you control how high you want to be when you are spun around, well as soon as Nathanael discovered the height control it was his plane that flew the highest. A great ride that we visited more than once!
One of the newest rides to Thomas Land is James and the Red Balloon, and this was the only ride I believed we “queued for” which was just waiting for one go of the ride so hardly waiting in my opinion, I would again think that if you are visiting in peak season that to head to this ride first as it proved very popular.
You take off in James’ Red Balloon and are spun around, I think the only way I could describe this would be a tea cups and saucers in the air type of ride, it was great fun and Nathanael loved visiting James after the ride.
Across from James is the Blue Mountain Engines, a small carousel type ride which would be a great ride to build up from. I would suggest if your child is a fan of the Blue Mountain Mystery film to make sure you are either at the front of the queue or wait for another round if they can’t get a train. There are only 3 trains Rheneas, Peter Sam and Sir Handel and then spaced between them are trucks which can be disappointing if your can’t get a train they have looked at for a while.
I am a huge fan of Diesel, bless him I think he is a tad misunderstood and who doesn’t love his song in the Great Race “I’m full of surprises you ought to wait and see I bring some razzle dazzle to the yard” and you can’t have Thomas Land without Diesel’s Locomotive Mayhem, again similar to Cups and Saucers all the diesel engines spin you around, Nathanael had a great time on this one.
Across from the Diesel ride is Sodors Classic Cars, this ride is very leisurely and has a photo opportunity if you wanted to purchase this at the end of the ride. Nathanael thought Classic Cars was great fun as he felt like he was driving Mummy and Daddy around the ride.
Winston’s Whistle Stop Tours offers a great view of Thomas Land and Drayton Manor as a whole and would be a good ride to go on at the start of your time spent in Thomas Land as Winston talks you through all the other rides on offer.
One of the last rides we tried was Captain’s Sea Adventures, this does have a minimum height restriction on it so make sure to get measured first. Captain’s ride is again similar to tea cups and saucers but you are in water. Nathanael loved this, especially when he remembered Captain searching for Thomas on Misty Island Rescue. It looks as if there is jets that could be pointed at the boats but these were covered when we went on the ride, I could be wrong, but with having a toddler I always have a change of clothes for him.
One of only two rides that due to height restriction we were unable to go on were Cranky’s Drop Tower and the Troublesome Trucks Runaway Rollercoaster, Nate was only 95cm at the time but I don’t think we missed out in anyway from the whole Thomas Land experience.
The accessibility for families throughout Drayton Manor is fantastic, I had chalked this up that Judah our 8 month old would be bored but he also had a fantastic time, there is a soft play area, but simply being out in the sunshine with all the theme tunes playing and rides to watch really kept him entertained.
Within Thomas Land there is a huge family room situated within the toilet area that has lots of space for changing babies along with cubicles.I could tell that care and attention had been taken for families with babies and toddlers when it came to this area which I really appreciated.
Finally I really want to sing the praises to all the staff at Drayton Manor, with all the horrible incidents at the moment there was enhanced security at the gate, which in my opinion was fantastic, they knew that children were excited about visiting Thomas and engaged with them along with keeping people safe.
The staff inside Thomas Land made the trip for us, again taking safety on the rides as a top priority but also sharing the joy and excitement of Thomas. Nathanael went on Sodors Classic Cars back to back, once with Mummy and then with Daddy, I said to the operator that he was all for equal opportunities and she replied “I am just so glad he is enjoying it” it really made my day when she said that as you could tell she meant it.
There were other children who were having a tough time on certain rides and the staff brought them around to the idea of them and encouraged them which was great to witness.
I would highly recommend a trip to Thomas Land, firstly if your child or you is a Thomas fan what is not to love, but also if you are looking for a day out with incredible customer service in every area from the rides, to grabbing something to eat, even in the security areas I honestly think Drayton Manor is the place to go!
We are already planning our next visit!