On Saturday we were invited along to review the Magical Christmas at Drayton Manor Park. Whilst the rest of the theme park is closed throughout the winter months, Thomas Land gets transformed into a magical Winter Wonderland for selected dates in November and December with snow, fairy lights, festive music and of course, Father Christmas himself!
As a family, we’re big fans of Thomas Land and visit every summer, so I was really looking forward to returning at this time of year and getting into the festive spirit! At just under two, Taylor is still a little young to fully understand Christmas, but at least she’s now tall enough to go on the majority of the rides in Thomas Land (with an adult). I was also really looking forward to her first visit to Father Christmas, which we booked in advance for later in the day.
Drayton Manor is conveniently situated in between my house and my mum’s over in Nottinghamshire, so we met my mum there at midday and the three of us headed into the park.
There was a Christmas craft session taking place when we got there, but lunch was calling so we headed to the Burger Kitchen first to refuel.
Time on the rides
Afterwards Taylor wanted to get straight on the rides, so my mum and I took it in turns to go on some of the rides within her height restriction, including Bertie Bus, Lady’s Carousel and Diesel’s Locomotive Mayhem. I have to admit I’m looking forward to when she’s a little taller next year and we can go on some of those ‘rides for the bigger kids’!
Our favourite ride was Winston’s Whistle-Stop Tours as all three of us were able to go on it together and we got a brilliant view of the park and all of the decorations from above. Thomas Land was relatively busy, but not like it is in the summer, so the queues were pretty small which was a bonus.
A winter wonderland
If you’re struggling to get into the Christmas spirit, a day spent here will have you rushing home to decorate your tree, whilst singing “Ding Dong Merrily on High!” The park is beautifully decorated with festive wreaths, fairy lights, giant Christmas trees, snow and baubles galore, and everywhere we went we found ourselves humming along to a Christmas classic.
We also managed to catch one of the snowfalls, which take place up to three times a day within Thomas Land, and there are festive characters walking around the park which are a great novelty for little ones.
What else is there to do?
Once we’d been on most of the rides, we caught a ride on Thomas to the Zoo. The 15 acre Zoo has a great range of animals and although some of them were inside sheltering from the cold, we did get to see the monkeys, the big cats and the reindeer – Drayton Manor’s special guests at this time of year.
Afterwards we headed over to the huge outdoor activity park. The park has something for kids of all ages and is the perfect place for them to let off some steam. There’s also an indoor soft play area which was really popular, but we avoided that since I know the meltdown that ensues when it comes to leaving soft play!
In fact, there were a couple of activities taking place indoors which we missed (we were just too busy having fun!) There’s an indoor Slide and Glide and also a 15 minute 4D movie experience from Polar Express. If it is a chilly day, these activities are perfect if you want to take cover and warm up for a short while.
One show we weren’t going to miss out on was dancing along with the Fat Controller and his Fungineer friends. Merriment and singing abound, Taylor was in her element jigging and clapping along to their show which takes place on the balcony above the Thomas Engine Tours ride.
The magic of Christmas truly comes into its own at dusk when the fairy lights sparkle and the park looks super pretty.
Visiting Father Christmas
We had our visit with Father Christmas booked for 4.15 pm, so we headed over to the Castle of Dreams to join the queue. We didn’t have to wait long at all until we were ushered in to Santa’s Grotto by his friendly elves. As I mentioned before this was Taylor’s first visit to ‘see Santa’ and she really wasn’t sure!! Despite Santa’s efforts to chat to her she would only sit on our knees and buried her face in our coats the entire time! She did however accept Santa’s gift – an elf toy, a giant chocolate coin and a Golden Ticket to return to the park in 2017.
A fireworks display finishes the day at 6pm after all of the rides close. For slightly older kids this would be the perfect end to a fun-filled day, but with Taylor getting tired and us all getting a little chilly, we decided to head home after our visit to Father Christmas.
All in all, we had a fantastic day and it’s the perfect event for little ones. If you buy in advance online, tickets cost £22 for over 12’s (with a Father Christmas visit), £17 for 4-11 years, £12 for 2-3 years, and are free for under 2’s. I think the day is definitely worth the money given the amount of activities taking place throughout the day. You certainly won’t be short of things to do and I don’t think you can beat it for some festive fun!
Disclosure: We were invited along to Magical Christmas at Drayton Manor in return for an honest review