Family Fun at Drayton Manor Theme Park

The last time we went to Drayton Manor was 6 years ago when my eldest was 5. So when Drayton Manor recently offered us a chance to visit again she was excited as this time she would be able to go on the ‘bigger’ rides. And of course this would be Bee’s first visit.

Drayton Manor

Drayton Manor is based near Tamworth in Staffordshire and is home to Thomas Land so is perfect for the littles one in the family. What we love about it though is that there is literally something for everyone so makes it a perfect family day out; Thomas Land for the youngest, and then a range of rides for the tweens, teens and adults!


There is ample free parking which isn’t far from the entrance, although if you end up parking at the back then it will be a short walk. Even then it isn’t too far but may feel like a distance after a long day of fun!


Some of the smaller huts selling ice cream where shut throughout the park when we went which meant you were likely to encounter queues at the ones that were open.

There are a number of places to eat…however being Muslim and eating only halal meat it can be a struggle. We initially thought we would have some fish and chips but when we went to it, it appeared they were frying the meat in the same oil so we didn’t risk it. We had heard that the Grill Inn, which is just outside the gates of Drayton Manor, catered for those who ate halal meat by providing halal chicken if asked for but as they also sold alcohol, again we avoided it. As we had taken some snacks with us we decided to just have those and eat after we had left. We did notice a pizza and pasta place next to the zoo which we could have tried out if we were really hungry!

As we didn’t eat there I can’t comment on the food prices.

There are a number of benches around the park if you opt to take a picnic with you and a lot of them are by the lake.

Duck at Drayton Manor

Tickets and prices

There are a number of ticket counters where you can purchase tickets. We arrived at 10am and the queue was short; but I am guessing in the summer holidays and peak times the queues may be longer. I would recommend that you purchase online if you can as you get an online discount. Ticket prices are:

Main Season:

Adult £39 (£25 if purchased in advance)

Child 4-11 £29 (£20 purchased in advance)

The full list of prices for other ages can be found on the Drayton Manor ticket prices page.

Opening times

Drayton Manor opens at 10am but the rides start at 10.30am.


In addition to the rides, Drayton Manor has a zoo.The zoo has 15 acres of open plan zoo and has over 100 animals from all over the world; so plenty to explore and see.

Meerkat at Drayton ManorI must admit that most of our time was spent of the rides and we ended up with only about 30 minutes to see the zoo which wasn’t enough time. However we managed to see the tiger be fed, and had a quick look at the reptile house and the Tamarin trail.

In addition to the zoo, there is a Dino Trail in the zoo area and a play area. You can easily walk to that area or you can jump on the train from the Thomas Land area which takes you closer to the dino trail and play area.

Dino Trail at Drayton Manor

Thomas Land

If you have a little Thomas fan then they will definitely love this section. There is a wide variety of rides and you can easily spend most of the day just in this section. As Bee was initially a bit nervous about going on any rides, the eldest explored the rest of the park first (more on that later) and we returned to Thomas Land just after one.


Thomas at Thomas LandLuckily the queues weren’t too bad and Bee managed to try out:

  • Bertie Bus
  • Blue Mountain Engines
  • Captain’s Sea Adventure
  • Flynn’s Fire Rescue
  • Harold’s Helicopter Tours
  • James and the Red Balloon (New for 2017)
  • Jeremy Jet’s Flying Academy
  • Lady’s Carousel
  • Rocking Bullstrode
  • Whinston’s Whistle Stop Tours

James and the Red Balloon is new for 2017.

This exciting new balloon ride will take Thomas fans high up in the air above Thomas Land. Choose a red balloon, climb in, and be delighted by a brand-new adventure on the Island of Sodor.

Bee was initially nervous about going on the ride as she felt it was too high but after going on a few other rides she was brave enough to go on it and then enjoyed every minute of it!

James and the Red balloon Drayton Manor

James and the Red Balloon new for 2017

Drayton Manor Rides

On the day we went, there were a number of ride closures: Splash Canyon, Drayton Queen Boat, Pandemonium, Stormforce 10, Buffalo Rollercoaster and Chairlift. That did seem like a lot of closures for one day and although Drayton Manor do make it clear on their website and as soon as you walk in, it can be disappointing to arrive and see all the closures. Especially if you aren’t going to Thomas Land and are specifically there for the family rides and the thrill rides. However, sometimes maintenance on rides can’t be avoided.

Family Rides

Between us we managed to get on:

  • The Carousel
  • Drunken Barrels
  • Flying Dutchman
  • Jolly Buccaneer
  • The Bounty Pirate Ship

Thrill Rides

The eldest is a bit of a thrill seeker and managed to experience:

  • Accelerator
  • Apocalypse
  • Maelstrom
  • Shockwave
  • The Haunting

Our Thoughts:

Our first ride of the day was Shockwave. Although the rides are meant to start at 10.30 it was another 20 minutes or so before the first lot of riders got on it. I do feel that if it is advertised that rides start at 10.30 then all testing should be done before hand and rides promptly start at 10.30. My eldest managed to convince me to go on it. Not the best idea as it is the only stand-up roller coaster with a zero-gravity roll… made me feel my age and I came off with a headache! I think my days of roller coasters are numbered……. but the eldest LOVED it! But she then went on most of the thrill rides herself…She is fearless. She even went on Apocalypse herself!

Be prepared to reach 50 miles per hour and fall 54 metres before free falling for 4 heart-racing seconds! Voted the ‘Best Thrill Ride’ in Europe, Apocalypse is one of the most exhilarating rides you will ever experience and will push you to your limits.

Apocalypse Drayton Manor

Most of the staff on the rides throughout the park and Thomas Land were friendly, chatting to Bee and generally being polite. However there was a handful that weren’t as friendly. The train driver at Thomas Land in particular though made everyone feel welcome….making sure he waved to everyone in the carriage as he passed with the engine.

If you can, I would recommend making your trip to Drayton Manor two days. Even though the queues were not huge when we went and we experienced a lot of the rides, we still missed out on so much. We didn’t get a chance to see the 4D show, or see the zoo properly. Bee also didn’t get a chance to try out the soft play area in Thomas Land. And not forgetting that we missed out on fully experiencing the Dino trail and the various play areas.

Watch our video to see how much fun we actually had!


Disclosure: We received complimentary tickets in exchange for a review. However all thoughts and opinions are our own. 

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