As this publishes it been just over a week since we were at Drayton Manor and what a great time we had despite the fact it pelted with rain for a couple of hours in the afternoon. As the rain came down, our smiles went on as we realised this would be enough to scare a load of people off home and the park would be our oyster to explore!
We had a lot of fun at Drayton Manor and it is somewhere my family would happily visit again. Whilst it has loads of rides and attractions, it still feels like a manageable theme park and had more of a family feel to it than the very big glossy ones. Both in the customers on site and also with the staff working there. it is easy to see why Drayton Manor has become the UK's favourite family them park over the last 65 years.
Our drive to Drayton manor was a good one and we picked up the brown signs easily, following those to the entrance. We did have about a 25 minute queue to get in to the theme park as the traffic was queued up the road and then down the long drive but I was really pleased with how close to the entrance we managed to park, it was literally just a 5 minute walk, which was a real contrast to other parks we've been to recently and this started our day very well.
We had a short queue to collect our tickets but this didn't take more than 5 minutes and we were straight into the park and you could see all the rides from the offset and this excited the children greatly. They all ran straight over to a carousel that didn't have any queue and went on that. Next followed the Jolly Buccaneer and the Dodgems, both with just 5 minutes queueing and lots of fun.
We took a very leisurely ride on the Drayton Queen boat next and truth be told this was a little boring for my kids ages but the toddlers seemed to enjoy it and you did get some good views of the Stormforce 10 log-flume ride. The lake is a really nice area and gives the park a spacious feel, we sat by the lake and ate our picnic and it was good to find there was plenty of tables and benches for us to use.
If you want to eat at the park there is a good selection of food - pizza, burgers, chicken, fish and chips and plenty of areas with sandwiches and snacks. Meal tended to be about £6.45 including a drink and there were quite a number of family meal offers (for 4 people) for between £20 and £22 which is excellent for this kind of attraction/
Generally our day followed the pattern of just a 5 or 10 minutes queue for most rides and the longest we waited was 30 minutes to get in the haunted house and on the Splash Canyon. I seriously can't believe how many rides and attractions we managed to fit in our day and we were only there from about 10.30am - 5.30pm. It was very satisfying leaving the park and knowing we had managed to get on all the rides we wanted to.
It's not just about rides though, I really enjoyed the Yogi Bear 4D adventure and boy what a plush cinema that was, the best one I've ever seen at any theme park. Dh is always a sucker for animals and it was nice to spend a more quiet and leisurely half-hour wandering through the zoo area and enjoying the big cats, owls, monkeys and reptiles.
The kids were also excited by the sight of Spencers outdoor adventure play but within about ten minutes of playing they had declared it boring and too young. Sadly (for them) on the day we visited there were loads of toddlers and they were overrunning the play park area but then as I explained to the kids it was probably designed with them in mind, as is the dino trail next door.
They were quickly over their disappointment at the park and were begging for £1 each to go into the penny arcade. They enjoyed changing their money for old penny's and having a go while dh and I had a drink and snack opposite the Thomas the Tank train station. Prices were as expected from a major attraction and the homemade sausage roll (£2.35) I had was very tasty and we paid £2.35 for a latte and £1.25 for a kids juice box.
After a quick ride back to Thomas Land on the train we decided to explore this area and it is seamless, the styling is spot-on and the area was bright and clean. Yes, it was super busy so hold onto your toddlers but the longest we waited in a queue was 20 minutes for the Troublesome Trucks Runaway rollercoaster, which both girls declared fabulous. It really does look as if Drayton Manor are interested in investing in their park and there was work going on in Thomas Land with a new attraction coming soon and I believe Sodar airport only opened earlier this year.
As a family it is the family rides that we enjoy most and there are 15 of those across the park. One of the things that is great about Drayton Manor is how diverse it is, with something to satisfy all family members. Your teens can get the thrills they want on the 8 thrill rides and some of these are proper white knuckle rides - like Shockwave - voted the best stand-up rollercoaster in the world or Apocalypse where you free fall 54 metres in just 4 seconds! The only on of us who braved a thrill ride was Miss E 9age 8) going on the Air Race, I was so proud of my baby as she went a full 360 degrees in the little aeroplane!
At nearly 12 years if JJ had had a friend with him I would happily have allowed them to go off and explore a bit on their own, as it feels quite safe and the space is not too large.
If our family of five had paid on the gate to enter Drayton Manor for the day it would have cost us £135 but if we had booked online more than 7 days in advance this would have gone down to £80 and just the morning we visited I was sent a Groupon deal for cheap tickets, so it is always worth doing an internet search and seeing what is available at the time. These prices really are very competitive in comparison to other theme parks. Also whilst we were at the park I saw you could purchase a ticket for a second day visit for just £12 each and that is great value so why not stay at the Drayton Manor Hotel or there is camping and caravanning on site too.
On exit you have to pay a £3 fee for the car park and this does annoy me but it has become standard in many attractions now so I can't really fault Drayton manor for it but as we left there was a problem with their computer and we had to stand in queue for some time and this spoilt our fabulous day somewhat. But looking back now it really is a great theme park and we will happily visit again in the future.
Thanks for having us Drayton Manor.
Disclosure: We received complimentary admission in exchange for this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.
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