Ben has been Thomas the Tank Engine obsessed for well over a year now. His train track gets played with daily, and he loves being allowed to watch an episode or even a film as a treat. So when I realised we were heading to a party which was only 40 minutes away from Thomasland at Drayton Manor, I knew we had to make a real weekend of it.
Ben is currently nearly 3, and probably at the peak of his Thomas obsession (or possibly on the waning side of it). He’s also very tall for his age, and hit the metre mark. This was important, as lots of rides were unavailable for him if he had been 10cm shorter. He also doesn’t need a nap during the day and can cope with a lot of walking and a lot of excitement. So bear these things in mind if you’re considering going.
We arrived early, just after 10am. This was really good, as it mean we only had a short walk into the park. Having pre-booked our tickets, I only needed our code and the whole process was really easy. This also saved us a fair chunk of money (£23.00 to be exact, more than the 40% advertised).
Thomasland is just inside the main gates, and the first thing we did, without really thinking about it, was to queue up for the train ride to the edge of the park. I stood in this queue as we watched the first train ride of the day head off, and was worried: would Ben be able to cope? Was he too tired after spending 3 hours at soft play on the previous day? Were we too tired after a disturbed night in a hotel room? Was Ben jiggling around with excitement or did he actually need the toilet?
Then he saw Thomas the Tank Engine steaming towards us and all my fears were allayed: “It’s Thomas!” he breathed, almost unable to believe his eyes. Yes, we were going to ride in Annie and Clarabel, pulled by Thomas. I am aware that if you don’t have a Thomas-obsessed child, this means nothing to you.
The train took us to the far end of the park, where we could wander around the zoo, play on a huge train-shaped climbing park, drive Terence the Tractor (which was a bit tricky for a 2 year old. He announced, sadly, after his ride, “I wasn’t very good. I crashed.”), and explore the Dino Trail.
I was pleased that we had done this bit first: it helped us all to get our heads around the park a bit, and it was also probably the least exciting. However, as it was the first thing we did, Ben thought it was all brilliant.
We then got the train (no queue at all) back to Thomasland, where we tried some of the rides. At least, Ben and Tim did. Being nearly six months pregnant, I wasn’t allowed on most of them!
I understand that Thomasland has been recently updated, and there’s a whole new section. This is where Ben’s favourite rides were, which included Flynn’s Fire and Rescue. For a small boy and his dad, this was a genius ride, where they fired water into holes, while standing on a moving platform. There’s also another water ride, and a Toby the Tram ride. We didn’t go into the Airport cafe, preferring to take our own picnic instead, but we did have ice creams.
As I said before, Ben is tall for his age – he’s just a metre tall now. It’s definitely worth measuring your child before going, because if they are shorter than 90cm, they aren’t allowed on the rides. For older children, if they’re under 120cm, they need to be accompanied. This is certainly true for the rides we went on, and we avoided some of the scarier ones (The Cranky Crane Drop and Bounce looked terrifying).
We spent nearly 5 hours at the park, and didn’t do it all. It was a beautiful day, so we didn’t really go into any of the indoor exhibits. It’s definitely a full day out for a nearly-3 year old.
Here are my top tips for Thomasland:
- Pre-book your tickets before you go, either on the website or on the phone.
- Take a picnic. I actually left it in the car, then went back to get it as we weren’t parked far away.
- Measure your child before you go, and make sure you read the height restrictions on the Thomasland website.
- Take the Thomas (or Rosie or Percy) train first if it’s not very busy – it helps you to get your head around the park. An alternative might be to walk to the Dino Land area and then get the train back as there aren’t many queues.
- Get there early if you can, or be aware that it gets less busy around 2pm – you might want to visit the zoo beforehand if you’re arriving around lunchtime.
- You can take photos of the Fat Controller if you see him wandering around, or your child can go and meet him – we saw him around 1pm by the Blue Mountain Quarry ride. Those meetings have ‘official’ photos which you have to buy.
- If you have a Thomas-mad child, please go. Ben declared it was “Fun, fun, fun, fun, fun,” and is now comparing anything to Thomasland.
I’m linking this up with What’s Happened? What’s Happening? which is a brilliant linky run by Red Rose Mummy and My Mummies Pennies.