Drayton Manor Park has been a favourite Theme Park of mine for many years. I have so many memories of trips there with friends and family over the years. It’s been wonderful to make new memories with Monkey over the last 3 years as we’ve returned again and again for fun at Thomasland. Last year we spotted that building work had started on the new Thomasland expansion and I promised Monkey we would come back as soon as it was opened.
Perfectly timed to celebrate Thomas and Friends forthcoming 70th birthday, Thomasland expands at Drayton Manor Park and was launched over the Easter holidays. We’d heard good things from a number of people and on Sunday we got to put the new rides to the test for ourselves.
The first thing you notice as you arrive is that the car park we’ve always used is now closed off, something far more exciting has appeared. One hyper excited Monkey grabbed his Drayton Manor Park map and he was off. This way Daddy!
What’s changed? The Blue Mountain Railway ride and Jeremy Jet’s Flying Academy have moved and a new opening behind the Knapford Station takes you into the expansion itself.
First impressions, a nice open space with lots of room to walk around. Great for an area that is likely to be full of buggies in the months to come.
We said hello to the Fat Controller who luckily seemed to be the only one experiencing April showers.
We live just over an hour away from Drayton Manor Park, and always aim to get there between 9.30-10am. That way, you don’t have to face long queues at the ticket office, have time to get your bearings and check out the cafe!
The new area of Thomasland features an art deco style Sodor Airport which doubles up as a cafe.
With cakes, sandwiches, hot paninis, kids lunch boxes and a selection of hot and cold drinks, this is a welcome addition to this part of the Park. Of course, we obviously had to do a bit of quality control work.
Once our research was complete we noticed that the rides had opened, it was time for Monkey to have some fun. Being a big fan of Flynn and Fire Engine’s in general, he had Daddy P straight in the queue for Flynn’s Fire Rescue. The queue was short and they were on the platform of Flynn before we knew it. I wondered whether Monkey would like the up and down motion in the cage, but this is my new super confident (by his levels anyway). The aim of the ride is to put out as many fires as you can using your fire hoses. Monkey had a great time on this ride. Instant hit.
We didn’t see any children riding inside the various Flynn’s on the day we visited but have seen younger children driving him in previous reviews, so this might be an option for less confident youngsters.
Next up was a ride we could all go together – Captain’s Sea Adventure, and I have to say that on the day we visited, the parents were enjoying this as much, if not more than the kids. There was a notice advising that the water canons weren’t working as normal, early teething problems I presume. But honestly, this didn’t affect our fun at all, I can only imagine we would have got wetter if they’d been working at full blast!
There are 4 water cannons on each Captain and you can push them up and down and target your victims as you whizz around on the high seas. We were all in fits of laughter on this ride. It soon became our favourite ride of the day and we kept returning throughout the day for more fun.
There is another new ride called Toby’s Tram Express, which Monkey wasn’t quite brave enough to try out. It goes up in the air and swivels around a lot. I think this is one for us to conquer another day.
Firm family favourites the Blue Mountain Railway, now also featuring Merrick the Crane and Jeremy Jet’s Flying Academy can also be found in this new area. Both were enjoyed a number of times.
Something else to also note with the new expansion is the addition of a new toilet/baby changing block. The toilets are spacious and Daddy P noted that they now have junior urinals in the mens toilets too. The new facilities are close to the Sodor Airport Cafe and Captain’s Sea Adventure.
Monkey had had a great time in the new area but he was anxious to make sure that his old favourites were still there too. He was in for a special treat too, he got to ride on Rosie for the very first time. We’ve never been when she’s been riding before, so that was doubly exciting. Percy was having a well-earned day off. We then obviously had to wait to ride back to Thomasland on Thomas himself. We also got to have a family photo taken – a rare treat, which we later bought. You can now download copies of any photos you buy for free.
It looked as if we’d picked another great day to visit Drayton Manor Park, the longest queue time we had all day, was 15 minutes waiting to show Daddy P the Winston’s Whistle Stop Tours ride. Monkey and I had tried it out last year, and a great place to get an overview of the Thomasland from.
We obviously had to try to wake James up and take a trip on Diesel’s Locomotive Mayhem. Another step forward on the bravery front saw Monkey go on Bertie Bus – blimey! In fact, we went on Bertie Bus 4 times. Wow, I might get him on the Troublesome Trucks one day!
We stopped for lunch before hopping on the Thomas train again. This time Monkey wanted to visit the miniature railway. After running around chasing Thomas around the tracks, he was off to explore Spencer’s Outdoor Adventure Play area which has become a bit of a hit since our last visit.
It wasn’t long before the Dinosaurs were calling us followed by ice cream. We then headed to the Polperro Express for a trip around the park. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on that train over the years! It’s a must for all of us. We would normally take a trip on the Drayton Queen Boat, but time was getting on and there were more rides to be repeated.
For the first time since we’ve been coming with Monkey we were there until the rides closed. I guess, that’s a sign of him being a bit older now, and just means we really do get a full day of fun and excitement. We decided to get a sandwich and a kids lunchbox for Monkey from the Sodor Airport Cafe for our tea, before heading home.
Thomasland expands at Drayton Manor Park and we give it a big thumbs up. Monkey loved every moment, and we all had a good day out. My only continuing niggle is the parking charge. I wish all of the theme parks would see fit to remove this charge. But that aside, we love this theme park and I know we’ll be back again and again. Now Monkey is a little older I think we might consider visiting for the Park’s 65th Anniversary Firework Spectacular too and maybe we’ll do something different for Monkey’s birthday treat. We normally do a Days out With Thomas trip, but this year could see us back at Drayton Manor Park for their Magical Christmas. But don’t tell Monkey!
disclaimer: we were given free entrance into the park in exchange for an honest review.