Half term hijinx – A Trip to Thomas Land

Image: © Copyright Steve Daniels and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Before everything spiralled out of control, I had started to tell you about the fun and frolics that I had with my little girls over the half term holidays. I’ll pick up where we left off with an exciting trip to Thomas Land. For those of you who don’t know, Thomas Land is a small, child-friendly, Thomas the Tank Engine themed section of a larger theme park in Staffordshire, England called Drayton Manor. Now, I don’t really rate Drayton Manor all that much as a thrill seeking day out. It does have a couple of big rides that are fab, but there just isn’t enough for me to want to spend the whole day there (and therefore, pay for the whole day). However, at February half term and over Christmas, they open Thomas Land for the little ones only, and keep the bigger rides and attractions closed. This makes it the absolutely perfect day out for families with small children.

Also, a little tip. If you book online (at least the day before you want to visit) you can get tickets at a much reduced cost. When I looked it was a reduction from £30 to £18 for an adult, so it’s well worth looking into. On the day when I tried to book online there were some issues with their computer systems, and I did get a little frustrated. There was no way I was paying double what I had planned to and so it was looking like we would have to cancel our plans and find somewhere different to go. I then had the genius (says me!) plan to tweet about my problems and lo! – I was contacted by Drayton Manor themselves saying that they would honour the online prices if I mentioned the Twitter conversation on the gate. This is the kind of customer service I can totally get behind and was really impressed with how they dealt with the problems without any arguments.

The journey to the park was quicker than I anticipated and so we arrived 15 minutes before the park opened. We picked up our tickets (I showed them a screen shot of the tweet from the night before and there were no problems getting the lower price – as promised) and then had to stand in line to go in. Isn’t it funny how 15 minutes seems like an eternity when you have an eager 4 year old on your hands?

Complaints about hanging around outside on a blustery February morning aside, I would highly recommend arriving before the park opens as it really wasn’t that busy first thing so we managed to get on plenty of rides in the first hour without too much queuing. The rides are perfectly designed for young children. Freya is almost 5 and most of the rides were perfectly sized for her. She found a few of the rides a little scary (too fast, too high) and wouldn’t brave the runaway trucks mini-rollercoaster, but she can sometimes be a little on the timid side and if you have a four year old adrenaline junkie I’m sure they’ll find plenty to amuse themselves. Most of the rides though are really gentle and pleasant and even my one-year old managed to have a go on a few of them. (She particularly liked the carousel).

After a good couple of hours riding time, we decided to stop off for a sit down and a bite to eat. We chose a burger bar in the middle of the park and opted to have the family meal-deal (2 quarterpounders, 2 cheeseburgers, 4 fries and 4 drinks for about £20) and just share it between us. The food was absolutely delicious and well worth the money. The burgers were the kind of thing I would expect from a gastro-pub and not at all squidgy or scrawny like the burgers you sometimes get in chain restaurants in theme parks. There was more than enough food for all of us (with some left over) and I would definitely go for that option again. It’s making my mouth water just thinking about it…..

After lunch we took a train ride (on Percy, not Thomas) to the opposite end of the park to have a look around some of the other attractions such as the DinoTrail and a very random zoo. To be honest I could have done without these as I don’t think they particularly fit in with the rest of the park and didn’t add much to our experience. Hopefully in the future the space will be used for something more exciting and appealing.

By now we were all starting to flag a little and so decided to have one more ride before setting off home. Unsurprisingly, everyone (not the driver obviously) had a little nap in the car on the way back. All in all, we had a fabulous day and I would highly recommend it to anyone in the area with young children. Plenty of rides, yummy food, luckily some very nice weather and a lot of great memories. Who could ask for more?

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