Last weekend saw us travel to the Midlands to bring BattleKid to see Father Christmas at Drayton Manor and to visit Thomas Land there. We had been due to spend the weekend near Birmingham with my sister-in-law Corrina (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram ) and the mini Stones but we were unable to stay the weekend. However, that didn’t stop us travelling up on Saturday morning to meet up with BattleKid’s cousins for a day of train fun!
We got up early and had a quick breakfast, packed the car and we were on the road by 8am. It was quite windy out and we could really feel it in the Landy. I decided to sit in the back with BattleKid in case he was sick, as we’d both been ill during the week in the run up to Saturday, and I thought it was a safer bet to be near both him and the sick bags! He didn’t nap on the way up until 20 minutes from Drayton Manor. Beforehand we chatted away to each other, sang songs, spotted trucks and buses and played peep with his Trunki Yondi!
We arrived at Thomas Land at 10am, about 15 minutes after Corrina and the family and we parked the car easily enough and made our way inside. They had to go see Father Christmas pretty much straight away so we stopped by the Knapford Station for a cuppa tea and a sausage roll, BattleKid having healthier fruit and a yogurt pouch. He was amazed to see the trains up close and personal and he decided to drag BattleDad out to see the trains leaving from Knapford Station.
Once Corrina and the mini Stones had seen Father Christmas we met up with them briefly before it was our turn to go see the man in the red coat. Nan had sent over a Thomas the Tank Engine hat and jumper for BattleKid, and he very quickly let us know he wanted to swap hats. Needless-to-say the Thomas hat did not come off his head until we were in the car going home later! We joined our queue a few minutes early and were let in to make our way to the entrance of the Castle of Dreams where Father Christmas was. Each child received a silver medal as a memento of the day just before going in to see Father Christmas. We didn’t have to wait too long before it was our turn to go in and see him.
BattleKid really wasn’t sure about him at first, clinging onto BattleDad and saying “No” to anything we tried to get him to do. We gave him back his dummy (which I tried to confiscate for the pictures) and once he had that he relaxed and started to chill out, albeit still on BattleDad’s lap. We helped him answer Father Christmas when he asked what he’d like for Christmas (bikes, cars and trains) and he said Thank You when he received his present from Father Christmas. We had our picture taken before leaving him to let someone else come in.
Each child received a gift bag with a giant gold chocolate coin, a Drayton Manor Magical Christmas money-box which can be hung from the tree and a voucher for a free child place for entry into Drayton Manor in 2016 with a fee paying adult. In my opinion this was ok considering the price for entry to Thomas Land at Drayton Manor and the visit to Father Christmas only cost £20 per adult, and under 3’s go free. Please note that the Drayton Manor rides themselves are closed during this time of year. Once outside we made our way to the photo station and we chose to get the print and two snowflake tree decorations for £20. You also get a code to access your photo online so you can print it out or use it as your Christmas card image.
After the photo station is a grotto in the Castle with reindeer, Christmas trees, face painting and an area to write a wish and post it in the magical letter box. We didn’t do this for BattleKid this time around but I’m sure we’ll be visiting again and will do it when he is a bit older. I have to say that Father Christmas was really, really lovely and so understanding with an uneasy toddler. I couldn’t have asked for a nicer Father Christmas to visit for the first time ever as a family!
Once we were finished and had visited the bathrooms we rejoined with the Stones and I took BattleKid on the Lady’s Carousel, which he really enjoyed, especially once I told him it was a horsey!
After this I took him on the Sodor Classic Cars ride with some of his cousins and he did not want to get off, despite a long queue for it! He calmed down quick enough and we made our way to get a bite to eat after his cousins had been on Bertie Bus. We ate at the Burger Kitchen and after along wait for our food we were left feeling rather disappointed. BattleKid’s chicken nuggets were ok but our burgers weren’t great. This was the only real disappointment of the day.
From here we made our way around past Knapford Station towards the back of Thomas Land to let BattleKid’s cousins go on more rides and to try their luck as ‘Hook-a-Duck’. It had been windy all day long and by this stage BattleKid was getting a bit tired and cold so we put him in his buggy and put socks on his hands (mama forgot his gloves) and put his Trunki snuggle blanket around him. He warmed up quickly but refused to nap, scared he would miss something! We caught part of the 2pm show on the balcony of Knapford station before going back to look in one of the shops while the mini Stones went on some more rides. I have to say I think BattleKid will love Thomas Land even more than he did this time when he’s a few years older, and so will we!
Just before 3pm we decided to say our goodbyes and head for home. We were gutted not to be able to spend the weekend in the Midlands with the Stones but still enjoyed our day with them and can’t wait to see them again, be it in Ireland or the UK. Unfortunately we were enjoying ourselves with them so much we forgot to get any pictures of us all together!
It took us just under two hours to get home and BattleKid slept the whole way home. I have to say that we thoroughly enjoyed our day at Thomas Land. For £20 per adult, and BattleKid free of charge, it was worth the money. We had fun on the rides and Father Christmas was really lovely, a nice man to see on our first time as a family. Thomas Land is nicely decorated for the festive season and there’s even snow at the end of the show on the balcony at Knapford station.
There is only two things that could have made the day better for us. Better food at the Burger Kitchen and if we’d had a chance to take a ride on the trains departing from Knapford Station. I just didn’t think of it when we were waiting for Corrina to see Father Christmas and by the time we had returned to the area around the station after lunch the queues were quite long. I guess that’s something to look forward to on our next visit. We also missed the fireworks as we had to leave to drive home and didn’t get a chance to visit the zoo either, but again these are things to look forward to the next time we go to Thomas Land, which we definitely will!
Corrina has also written about the visit to Thomas Land and you can read her post now. Magical Christmas at Drayton Manor runs until 31st December on select days. The park gates open at 9.45 am and rides start at 10.30am. Entry to the park only costs £15 per adult, £10 for ages 4-11, £5 for ages 2-3 and under 2’s go free, with free car parking, of which there is ample space. To include a visit to the Castle of Dreams to meet Father Christmas and receive the gift bag and silver medal, it costs £20 per adult, £15 for ages 4-11, £10 for ages 2-3, and again under 2’s go free. These are the online and pre-book ticket prices. You can buy park tickets at the gate (not including the Castle of Dreams) but prices are double for adults and ages 4-11, so I’d advise pre-booking.
*Prices correct at the time of writing this post.
**I was not asked to write this post.