Last week, we had a fab little break away at Drayton Manor Park. We visited Thomas Land, an attraction for younger visitors and Thomas the Tank Engine fans within the main theme park. I thought I’d write a little review of Thomas Land, to share our experience and tips for visiting the theme park and accommodation with toddlers.
Getting to Drayton Manor
Drayton Manor was about a 2 ½ hour car journey for us from Surrey so we stayed over for a night in the hotel. We definitely wouldn’t have attempted there and back in one day! Anyway the journey went surprisingly smoothly. We haven’t bought the twiglets i-pads or anything yet (basically trying to put that one off as long as possible 😂.) But we managed to keep them entertained singing along to their favourite songs (pretty much the Trolls soundtrack on repeat with the odd Mr Tumble nursery rhyme thrown in 🔫🤣)
When we arrived we headed over to the hotel to drop luggage etc and collect our theme park tickets, then entered the park. We quickly grabbed some lunch at one of the cafes. Food was pretty much as you would expect at a theme park really – ok but nothing to write home about (or in a blog post 😉)
Then we headed for Thomas Land. When we first went in, I thought it didn’t really seem that big but actually it was quite deceptive and there were a lot more rides than I first thought. One big positive was that the twiglets could go on practically every ride. I think there were only about two which they were too short for. Most required 1:1 adult supervision – totally understandable but a bit of a bugger for me as it meant I had to go on all the rides too! (I am a massive, massive wimp – I hate heights, moving fast and get dizzy from just spinning round once – actually pathetic 😂)
It was busier than I expected given that it was term time and mid-week, but not too busy either. There was quite a nice bustling atmosphere which I think I preferred to it being completely dead. There was never much of a wait for any of the rides. We either got on straight away or had to wait one go – always a good thing as queues are no toddler’s friend 🙈
We went on quite a few of the rides that afternoon. H loved them all. I think the rides were quite adventurous given that toddlers could go on them. I expected them to be really tame but they were quite exciting (maybe that’s my wimpiness talking though 🤣) C was a bit more cautious and did freak out a little on a few. It didn’t make much sense though as some of the fastest, highest ones she was absolutely fine with 😂 Good old toddler logic I guess! 😊
Later we took the little train over to the zoo – C and H LOVED this. Watching the front carriage detach, turn around on the turntable then attach to the other end was a real highlight for them. The signs clearly say to take all pushchairs, belongings etc with you. We nearly left the buggy to the side as we had done on all the other rides but ran back for it last minute. We were glad we did as the train does take you a little way away – into the zoo area (not that it would have been a huge deal to walk back and get it but still 😊)
We quickly looked at a few animals – flamingoes (C’s fave), ostriches etc. Then we headed to the outdoor play area. (Well, to be more accurate, we were walking past and the twiglets ran straight in paying us no attention as we have zero control over our children, so we acted like we’d meant to go in there 🙈🤣) Anyway, there were lots of decently-sized train-themed climbing frames with slides etc for them to play on. So we spent a while there – until the park closed in fact and a member of staff came round ushering everyone out 😊
Drayton Manor Hotel
We then headed to the hotel, which was just a short walk across the car park, and checked in to our room. We had one of the Thomas and Friends themed rooms and it was really very cool. There was a Thomas bunk bed and blankets, murals on the walls and carpeted train tracks on the floor.
The twiglets also got a little goody bag each which was a lovely touch. (This is an added extra if you’re staying in one of the Thomas themed rooms). Anyway it had a colouring book, a toothbrush (useful as we realised we’d actually forgotten to pack the twigs’ ones anyway 🙈😂), a cuddly lion (the Drayton Manor mascot I think) and some other bits and bobs 😊 It was super handy for keeping the twiglets entertained while we had dinner over at the Grill Inn. Again, food was good but nothing hugely memorable 🙊😊
Sleep was a bit of a nightmare that night 🙈 If you follow me on Instagram or have read previous posts like this one, you’ll know how awful the twiglets can be at bedtime. They certainly didn’t disappoint that night and were messing around for hours. Even harder when you’re stuck in the same room as them!
Sleeping arrangements were interesting – the twigs are at an in-between kind of phase where they’re in toddler beds with bed guards. They’re too big for cots and wouldn’t tolerate them anyway but not quite ready for full-size single beds, let alone bunk beds 🙈 We couldn’t get the top mattress down to put it on the floor and even the bottom bunk was still fairly high and had no side. We put some rolled up-blankets/towels along the edge and had H in there and C on the floor on a load of pillows 🙊
When they finally fell asleep, H fell out of bed on top of C so we ended up with him in our bed. I spent part of the night on the bottom bunk with C but she kicked the absolute crap out of me so I moved back. Suffice to say, we were all pretty jaded in the morning after all the nighttime antics 😂 It was fine though – good bit of character-building 🤣 They sleep pretty shockingly at home anyway so it wasn’t too different 😂
Breakfast in the hotel was good – think it might have been the twiglets’ first ever cooked breakfast 🤔 They were very excited to have sausages, beans etc first thing anyway 🤣 We then packed up all our stuff, dropped off luggage in the car then headed back over to the park. It opened at 10, with the rides starting at 10.30. We went on a few, however H was not in the best of moods, probably due to tiredness. He was getting increasingly grumpy and difficult as the morning went on.
As H seemed to be on a one-way ticket to Meltdown Central, we opted for a change of scene and took them into the dreaded softplay 🙈 I have to say, it’s an amaaazing softplay – absolutely massive. Much bigger than anything the twigs have ever been on. Anyway they merrily ran straight in and started climbing. I noticed signs saying children could play for 15 minutes. There didn’t seem to be anyone enforcing this, but I imagine at busier times (school hols etc) they probably would be.
Despite her tough, strong-willed character, C can actually be a bit of a wuss at times. She freaked out mid-climb, halfway up the giant structure and started shouting for us to rescue her. The husband obliged, removed his shoes and jumped in. After a little while of attempting to reason with the most stubborn creature in all the land, a member of staff called up to him that adults aren’t allowed on the play frame so could he please come down 🙈
So just be warned, if you have smaller kiddos or kids who are liable to get nervous etc, it’s not the type of softplay where you can go round with them. (I’m sure if your child needed particular assistance for any reason and you explained this to them, you probably could though). There was a much smaller area for littler ones so we tried to encourage the twigs to stay in that section after, with limited success 🤣
After a little play, H’s mood had thankfully improved a lot and we spent until about 3pm going on the rest of the Thomas rides and looking around the zoo and the Dino Trail. We also took the little train again and had lunch and ice-cream. By that time, the twiglets were absolutely shattered and passed out in the buggy before we even made it to the car – always a sign of a fun-packed day. We transferred them to the car and began our journey home 😁
I hope this review of Thomas Land has been useful. We had a great time; the twiglets have been talking about it constantly since and we would definitely highly recommend a visit 😁 Check out the Drayton Manor Park website for information and tickets 🙂