If you are looking for some where to see the Big Man in red this year, look no further than Drayton Manor Theme Park and Zoo for a super, value-for-money day out with sparkle, snow and lots of Christmas spirit to get you in the festive mood.
We arrived to a warm welcome from the hosting team and quickly made our way to Thomas Land where the Christmas Balcony Show was in full swing in Knapford. The Controller and his team invited us to make our Christmas wishes and dance along to the warming songs of the season before the magical snow fall began. The Little Lady was amazed by the snow cover and gazed in awe at the Snow Queen and her festive comrades who walked amongst the park visitors for a meet and greet.
The beautiful Christmas tree in the heart of the park was ablaze with colour and light and proved to be the perfect spot for family snaps.
The great thing about Thomas Land is that many of the rides the children can go on unaccompanied as long as they are one metre in height. Of course, I wanted to get in on the fun and adventures too so The Little Lady didn’t need to worry about flying solo but my arms were firmly in the carriages while she was waving them high and screaming with excitement. All Thomas Land rides are open during the Christmas period and are included in the price of your ticket.
Outside of Thomas Land, are other rides for your enjoyment from the traditional Carousel to the super speedy Ben 10: Ultimate Mission Coaster (open weather dependent). The latter of these two was just too speedy for us but the wails of fun could be heard from afar.
Despite the chill of November, the life of the zoo was in full swing from the lynx to the meerkats and the owls to the panther. All could be seen enjoying their environment. Perhaps most attractive of all the creatures for a Christmas visit were the beautiful reindeer who are situated just inside the zoo and also in their paddock. Animal feeding times are listed in your visitor’s pack and a number can be caught throughout your visit. We managed to see Cupid and Blitzen leisurely eating their moss, fed by the reindeer keeper. The new enclosure has ample viewing areas so everyone gets to catch a glimpse of the splendid animals.
Tucked within the zoo area is the Dino Trail, where any dinosaur buff will be satisfied with the display of huge prehistoric creatures. Alongside this is Spencer’s Outdoor Adventure Play Area which is a great space for your little ones to burn off some of their excitement.
If you fancy trying your skills at ice skating (bites his knuckles), the Slide & Glide Ice Skating Rink is open to get your blades on. With mini penguins for your little skaters to test their flexibility even the most unstable of us can give it a go.
Of course, if you are fully prepared for Christmas and the letters to Santa are already written, then you can take them along to post in Percy’s Post Box who promises to personally deliver them to the Big Man himself.
Located throughout the park at convenient spots are toilets and changing facilities. Newly refurbished, these are clean and ample in number which is a refreshing and welcome feature. (I’d go so far as to say the changing facilities are spot on).
We took along the pushchair and found the park and zoo easy to negotiate. Even Thomas could accommodate us when we took a ride though the park. But, if you’d prefer to hire a buggy, they are available too.
Food outlets are aplenty in the park whether you fancy a snack or something more filling, there are a number of outlets to choose from. If you decide to take your own lunch, there are benches around the park where you can settle down and tuck in.
The Polar Express is showing in the 4D cinema at intervals throughout the day. This was very popular so make sure that you schedule this into your visit and get there in sufficient time to make the queue.
As our day drew to a close and the sun began to set, we headed over to the Castle of Dreams where the sparkle of Christmas was in full swing and the Big Man awaited us. We were quickly shown into his grotto and a very cheerful and friendly Santa Claus welcomed both of the children. I was really impressed with this great version of the man himself and would recommend a visit to him to anyone. After our time with him was over, the children left with a goodie bag and we were shown further into the grotto for games, face painting and the opportunity to see the snap that Santa had caught. Your visit to Santa Claus must be booked in advance when a time slot can be chosen. These are spaced throughout the day.
There have been some notable changes to the Theme Park over the past year and these can clearly be seen in both Thomas Land and the Zoo. Drayton Manor is lovely family centred spot to start your Christmas celebrations where your little adventurers can enjoy something just for them.
If you are planning a visit this Christmas period, make sure you schedule in the Christmas Parade to end your day and witness the splendid fireworks over the park’s great lake.
So, if you’re looking for a Christmas visit and enjoy the rides, why not check out Drayton Manor’s Magical Christmas this December.