Thomas chuffed into Knapford station with his festive lights, reindeer antlers and red nose. All the children cheered before piling on for a Christmassy train ride. Past Santa, penguins and other characters made from fairy lights and back to the station. There, we disembarked and strolled into the middle of a snowstorm.
About Drayton Manor Theme Park
Located in Tamworth in the West Midlands, Drayton Manor is a small, friendly theme park. It boasts a dedicated Thomas Land area for young children, a themed area based around the little tank engine’s home on the island of Sodor. But fear not, there’s something for older children and adrenaline junkies too. With big roller coasters, a variety of rides and attractions and even a zoo, it’s a great family day out.
Drayton’s Magical Christmas
At this time of year, Drayton Manor is transformed into a festive wonderland. The rides are open in Thomas Land, along with selected rides elsewhere in the park. Decorations range from fairy lights to snowstorms to child-sized baubles. There’s even a 30 foot musical Christmas tree.
In the Castle of Dreams, Santa waits to chat to children and find out what they want for Christmas. Each child receives a pre-Christmas gift of a chocolate lolly, a book and a golden ticket to come back next season.
After chatting to the man himself, you enter a magical room where children can have their photo take on Santa’s sleigh. Next to the Castle of Dreams, you’ll find the Slide and Glide ice rink. This is a small rink with a strange surface that isn’t actually ice. I found it very difficult to skate on, but the children enjoyed trying. Skates start from a child’s size eight and each child must be accompanied by one adult.
Drayton’s Magical Christmas rides and attractions
Thrill seekers will be delighted to hear that as well as the Thomas Land rides, the Accelerator is open for business. Our little thrill seeker went on that four times because there was virtually no queue. Meanwhile, younger children can enjoy the Carousel and the Jolly Buccaneer, or take a stroll around the zoo. Of course, Santa’s reindeer take pride of place between the zoo and Santa’s Castle of Dreams at this time of year.
I’ve always been surprised at how little the chilly weather dampens the spirits at Drayton’s Magical Christmas. We always wrap up warm, but there are plenty of opportunities to go inside. Many of the food outlets are open, serving hot and cold food and drinks. The 4D cinema is another great opportunity to warm up, currently showing the highly entertaining Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas.
Opportunities arise to take part in more sedate activities too. Libby enjoyed sitting down with a colouring sheet to make her own picture of Thomas. Colouring activities were available in the Engine Shed, located at the end of Winston’s Whistle-Stop Tours. The soft-play area is also open, and my two let off some steam running around in there for half an hour.
The park is open until 6pm at this time of year, with the rides remaining open after dark. We enjoyed watching the sunset over the lake. I love a good sunset at the best of times, but this one somehow added to the festive magic.
As darkness fell, we headed off for a ride on Thomas, getting the full effect of the beautiful fairy-lit characters. This is a there-and-back ride to and from Knapford Station in the Thomas Land area. We disembarked just in time for the Thomas Land Parade. The parade was small, with a few dancers covered in fairy lights.
The tannoy was very quiet during the parade, which didn’t create the best atmosphere. At the end, the performers headed up into the area above Knapford station to sing and dance for the crowds. It became rather difficult to move around in that area, as everyone tried to watch the show and then make their way to the lake for the fireworks.
The fireworks themselves were pretty, if rather underwhelming. They lasted for a couple of minutes and were a lovely way to round off the day. However, don’t expect the sort of display they put on at the fireworks spectacular as this is a rather more low-key affair.
This is a brilliant day out that we highly recommend in the run-up to Christmas. Head to their website for details of opening dates and times. You can also read my recommendations for more 2017 Christmas days out in the West Midlands.