Drayton Manor’s Magical Christmas Review


Reviewed by Alice Dixon

We were invited to Drayton Manor’s Magical Christmas Event opening day which will run from 14th November through to 31st December. Drayton Manor seemed an ideal day out as a Mum of two young boys who happen to be big Thomas Tank fans as they are home to Thomas Tank Land. Each year near to Christmas although most of Drayton Manor is closed, Thomas Tank land is open and all sorts of magical Christmas fun is planned.

We arrived and easily found a car parking space after entering through a ticket controlled barrier. Car parking costs £6 for the full day and tickets can be paid at any point during the day. I’d recommend sorting it out early on to avoid an end of the day queue.

From the moment we stepped into the park we were greeted by happy, friendly staff and plenty of elves too! After only a few paces into the park my children’s eyes lit up with wonder and it’s no surprise. The whole park is adorned with beautiful decorations, lights and Christmas trees and Christmas songs are playing. All together it creates a wonderful festive atmosphere. The 35ft tall symphony tree is a dazzling sight to see.

We arrived at 10am just as the park opened. As the rides don’t begin to operate until 10:30 we decided to start our day with a walk through the zoo. Drayton Manor is home to a large assortment of animals. We walked through the (rather smelly!) meerkat enclosure, past all the monkeys and even spotted a Northern Lynx prowling. My eldest son was fascinated by the huge reptile house, spending ages spotting all the snakes and lizards hiding themselves among the leaves. The biggest highlight of the zoo was that we were able to see a Sumatran Tiger up close as he paced his enclosure. This was a dream come true for my youngest son who loves all things about tigers!

After what turned out to be a long walk around the zoo as there are so many interesting animals to see we headed back into Thomas Land to enjoy some rides. There are so many rides based on all the famous Thomas and Friends characters. Most of the rides do have height restrictions so it may be worth checking out the website before visiting if you have young children. However, many of the rides smaller children can still ride if accompanied by an adult. Our two children were tall enough to ride everything alone but Mum and Dad couldn’t resist a few rides too, they all looked so much fun.

We pretended to put out fires on the Fiery Flynn ride, got twisted and rocked on the Rocking Bulstrode boat and sent spinning in circles on the Toby tram ride. My children were delighted to ride in Harold Helicopter and send Mum and Dad up and down on Jeremy Jet plane. In total there are seventeen rides that make up Thomas Lane, plenty to keep us busy all day. As well as these there is Emily’s Adventure play which is a lovely train themed indoor soft play, a great place for little ones to have their fun and for parents to warm up and rest. There is also Spencer’s Outdoor Adventure play, unfortunately this was closed to recent bad weather conditions but it’s good to know that children’s safety is considered.

After a few rides and now feeling a little dizzy, we went inside to watch the show ‘A Christmas Wish.’ This is a brand new live entertainment show. We took our seats but it wasn’t long until we were up on our feet again. Tinsel the elf popped onto stage and soon had us up on our feet dancing along to his Christmas song which featured plenty of actions like driving the sleigh and decorating the tree. Tinsel told us all about his excitement about Christmas and why he loves it so much. There was dancing, singing and lots of bad elf jokes! It was a fabulous interactive show. Tinsel got all the children involved, asking them questions and delighting them by splashing us all with a water gun. The big man himself, Santa, joined us too, showing off his magical skills which amazed the children. The whole performance was fun and silly with a couple of quips to make the adults laugh too. Overall a delightful show to get everyone pumped up and excited.

After a busy morning we stopped for lunch. We certainly all needed to refuel. Drayton Manor has plenty of food outlets to please everybody. From pizza and pasta at the Safari cafe to handmade burgers at Burger Kitchen or classic fish and chips. If you’re looking for a lighter snack there’s plenty of stands selling pastries, cakes and hot drinks. I was impressed to see that they are able to cater to food allergies and dietary requirements too.

After lunch we headed back into Thomas Land and were delighted to spot The Fat Controller in the station. He performs shows throughout the day with singing and lots and lots of fake snow falling. With the twinkling lights and snow falling all around it’s hard not to feel the Christmas spirit.

Next we headed towards the Castle of Dreams ready to visit Santa. Drayton Manor park tickets can be purchased without the Santa’s Grotto experience however it’s so magical I would recommend making it a part of your day. We were ushered inside the castle by some cheery elves and started our visit by enjoying a story read by Mrs Claus. Then the elves took us through to make some magical reindeer food ready to scatter Christmas Eve. We could then walk further through the castle to join the queue to see Santa. We did have to wait a little while but there were plenty of cheeky elves about to keep us entertained. Finally it was our turn and Santa had a little chat with the children, took a photo and gave them a special token. These tokens could then be redeemed for a toy in Santa’s shop. Us grown ups didn’t leave empty handed though! Santa had special tokens for us too that could be redeemed for a hot chocolate and a mince pie. This was the perfect way to warm up on a chilly day.

It was now getting late in the day, the sun was starting to go down and it was turning chilly. We just had time for a few more rides before they closed as there are also a handful of other rides operating including a gorgeous old fashioned Carousel that delighted adults as much as the children.

At 5pm the rides closed for the day but our visit was not quite over. Everyone gathered by the lake to be surprised by Santa, Mrs Claus and all their friends coming onto stage to lead us in a Christmas singalong. After a few classics such as ‘Winter Wonderland’ and ‘Jingle Bells’ Santa began a countdown. 10..9..8..7..6..5..4..3..2..1 and the sky lit up in a fantastic firework display. What an incredible way to end an amazing day out.

Drayton Manor’s Magical Christmas is just the most wonderful Christmas experience. There is fun for all ages and I can’t think of a better way to create magical memories with your family this Christmas time.

Rating: 5/5

Tickets cost £32 for adults and children 4+, £18 for 1-3 year olds and under 1s cost £5

Drayton Manor’s Magical Christmas runs from 13th November to 31st December

Tickets can be booked and purchased from the Drayton Manor website here.

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