Reviewed by Victoria Linney
We easily found the Wonderful World of Planes & Trains (WWPT), as it is located right next to St Pauls Square in Birmingham. It was very easy to park as there are plenty of pay and display street parking (however you can only use this for up to 2 hours). There is also an actual pay and display car park located on Ludgate hill around the corner.
On arriving at the WWPT we were greeted by Steve one of the owners. He gave us a brief explanation of the set up and then we went on our way to have a look round.
You enter on the ground floor which contains the gift shop and a café. There are baby change facilities on this floor (very clean) in addition to toilets on each floor. There is also a lovely model display with trains going round, featuring an old fashioned period 1950’s high street including Woolworths and the Odeon.
We took the lift to the first floor (there are stairs but we have a toddler who isn’t so good with them yet). One of the first things you see on the first floor is a throne and a royal cape. My daughter promptly sat on this and put the cape on! There is a train display next to this that includes the royal train. Each display also contains info about the history of the scene shown within the display. For example Queen Victoria was the first British Monarch to travel by train. She travelled from Slough to Paddington on 13th June 1842; the journey took 25 minutes. The locomotive Phlegethon pulled the royal saloon and 6 other carriages. The current royal train is usually pulled by either 67005 Royal Sovereign or 67006 Queen’s Messenger; both of which are class 67 diesels. You will find lots more informative information like this as you look at each display.
On this floor you can also drive the trains on the Thomas the Tank Engine set up. There were 3 trains that you could drive and we enjoyed trying them out. There is also an air traffic control centre, to which the view is of Birmingham airport. There are 3 screens that show live information of where planes are around 3 different airports; Newark, Heathrow and Schipol. You could also hear commentary from Heathrow airport. I found this very interesting and Steve came over at this point and explained that in the future they are hoping to have touch screens so you can click on each plane and find out the altitude and speed it is travelling at. Amazing to see how many planes are in the sky!
There was also a huge Scalextric that you could have a go; my daughter loved this and WWPT provide little steps so children of all sizes can see the displays and join in. They also provide a children’s wooden train track so little ones can have a build as well as a colouring station and one where you could build planes too. As well as lots of model planes to look at there are also Microsoft flight simulators and you can choose your plane and also location of the flight. I choose to fly a Cessna out of Birmingham airport, I did actually manage to take off but I obviously hadn’t got enough height or speed as I promptly nosedived back into the runway, oops! My husband had better luck with flying a Cessna out of Coventry airport. However he landed it on the A45 rather than the runway!
On the second floor there are even more displays to see; another huge Scalextric track, once again we had immense fun racing each other on this track. Some of the other displays on this floor were a liberated prisoner of war camp in Southern Germany in 1945. Nazi Germany used the railways to transport an estimated 3-5 million people. There is also a WW1 diorama and a big Canadian railway set up, which shows a little stop off in the Rockies. Other dioramas we saw were the Channel Tunnel model and the Dutch railway. We could have spent hours at the WWPT however our toddler was starting to get hungry and tired so we decided to try out the café. There were high chairs available for those who needed them and a good choice of sandwiches, breakfasts, Paninis, waffles and beans/spaghetti hoops on toast. They also had a children’s menu offering similar items but smaller portions and cheaper. This was ideal for our daughter. We spent £11 on our lunch which consisted of 2 fizzy drinks, one children’s spaghetti hoops on toast, an adult breakfast and I had a cheese and baked bean panini. This isn’t actually on the menu but I do not like tomato and didn’t want plain cheese so they did me an alternative (I like it when places make up your Panini and sandwiches fresh). My Panini also came with some crisps and salad. We all enjoyed our food and the staff were very helpful and friendly, and the food was superb value.
The gift shop is well stocked and has some fab items for all ages. We have been meaning to get my daughter some cars and diggers for a while now so we got a set of 5 for £10 and she was very happy with them. We also bought a corgi toy set, also £10, but came with a play mat, a garage and two Eddie Stobart trucks. Needless to say I have one very happy daughter!
We will certainly be returning to the WWTP and highly recommend it to others. Entry is £7 per adult, under 3s are free, £4.50 per child or you can get a ticket for a family of 4 for £18.50. Great value considering how long you could spend there and how much fun it is. They do a spotters guide for children too and also have children visit on school trips (wish my school had taken us somewhere like this).
Tickets cost from £4.50 to £18.50 (under 3′s are free).
For more information or to book tickets visit www.wonderfulworldtrainsplanes.co.uk.
Wonderful World of Trains and Planes. 3 Mary Ann St, St Paul’s Square, Birmingham, B3 1BG