There’s something in the water, these days, that’s making children grow super fast. I’m sure of it. The first time we took Ameli to an amusement park, she spent the whole time in a sling and slept through most of it – and she was only able to go on the train that goes around the park.
Fast forward 30 months and I went with Ameli, Aviya and one of our friends and her daughter to Drayton Manor, and more specifically Thomas Land. We were also invited to watch the new Thomas the Tank Engine movie in the 4D cinema.
We had a really good day, and as is usually the case with theme parks, there’s more to do than you can fit in in one day. We were there from opening to half an hour before closing, and had a break from the rides and amusements only to attend the movie screening, and we didn’t get to go on all the rides, or even go into the ‘older kids/ adult’ side of the park.
Just through the entrance, we found Thomas Land – a world dedicated to Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends. It was really busy, so we hopped on the Rosie the train and went to the other side of the park where we found a farm, Dino land and a zoo. These were pretty good, and the girls especially loved the Dino land. Ellie and I thought it was a little low budget – the Dinos didn’t even make sounds – but the girls loved it. There’s also a playground which was train themed and amazing. We’d certainly love that as our local! It was also rather quiet with a picnic area, and if we didn’t have the movie break, I’m sure we’d have gone back there.
We spent a while watching the monkeys – okay, they all have actual species names, but we’ll just call them monkeys – which was great fun. They’re actually amazing creatures!
We strolled along through the theme park and I must admit, I was glad the kids weren’t older because I think with older children it can very quickly become a very expensive day out. There was one of those ‘walk on water’ ball things that were £5 for 4 minutes, and arcade games and funfair style games, all of which were charged extra. There are also masses of food places. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a variety of eating establishments outside of a mall. We didn’t try any of them, so I didn’t think to check the prices at all.
After a ride – Pirate Adventure, the queue for which was quite long, but the ride itself was fab and the set was really good – we went to see the movie in the 4D cinema next. The Blue Mountain Mystery is a sweet movie about friendship, knowing the truth, finding out the whole story, and similar useful themes for children to learn. Initially I was a bit disappointed that it missed out the 3rd dimension, as it wasn’t a 3D film, (and I adore 3D) but as soon as the chair started moving when there was a rock fall in the film and water squirted out of the chair in front during a splash and squeals of laughter came from the two girls (Aviya was less amused at being woken by a squirt of water!) it was all perfect.
The film is done in the old style of the original show, so (unlike Chuggington, for example) it’s not all bright and colourful and cheesy music. It took me a little while to adjust to the old style, which I was surprised by, but Ameli was engrossed.
After the film we spent some time in Thomas Land and went on a number of fun rides. There was a train, a helicopter ‘flight’, and so on… all little things, with short rides, ideal for children.
We did return to the cinema later for the 4D showing of The Little Prince, which was brilliant. There was a dragon in one of the scenes that flew out of the screen and my poor girlie had such a fright, I had to tell her to take the glasses off! Poor thing. It was brilliant though. I really love 3D. I just want to reach out and touch things. It makes me feel so absorbed in what I’m watching. Add the 4D and it’s a whole alternate universe. It’s amazing.
After the movie we made our way out of the park and started the three hour journey home. Both my girls were asleep by the time we exited the park!
What I didn’t like:
- It did feel like every opportunity there was to take your money was taken. From paying for lockers to paying for additional activities, to the £1.95 to draw money from the cash machine. I feel if you’re paying a fortune to get in already, everything inside should be included (excluding food and drinks, of course.) That said, if you pre-book, it’s only £20 to get in and that’s not bad at all as far as these things go.
Some things I really loved about Drayton Manor:
- There were lockers in the centre of the park where you could store your things. We paid £2 for 2 hours
- It’s not a very big park. You think it is, till you’re in the air, then you realise it’s not.
- There’s loads for children under five, even under three, to do. This is not the case at parks local to us!
- I didn’t see anything saying you couldn’t take your own food in, so if you’re on a special diet or you just don’t want to spend a fortune on food, sweets, drinks and ice creams and can resist the temptation to do so, you can get away with it. We bought an ice cream before heading home and that was all the money we spent on the day, which I actually felt quite good about!
Watch the trailor:
[youtube 7tpYTAXlpoU nolink]