If there is one thing Leo loves more than anything else in the whole word, it is Thomas The Tank. Regular readers of my monthly Leo updates will already know that my boy is some what obsessed with the blue steam engine and his friends. As a special Christmas treat for our Thomas super fan, on Saturday we travelled half way up the country to have a Christmassy, train filled day at Thomas Land at Drayton Manor.
As it turns out, Drayton Manor is friggin miles away from Southampton! We left the house, blurry eyed and still half asleep at 7.30 in order to arrive at the park for opening at 10am. We told Leo we were off to Thomas Land and he was so excited. The journey took nearly 2 and half hours and although he was sleepy from the early start, Leo was no way going back to sleep.
|A face of pure wonder.|
|That little face.|
Once we arrived at Drayton Manor we headed straight to Thomas Land and Leo’s little face lit up when he saw where we were. The Thomas engine was parked on the track right at the entrance and Leo ran straight up to him, you could tell that he was just so happy to see his hero in the flesh (kind of). We jumped straight in the queue to have a ride of Thomas but by the time we got to the front, Thomas had already set off and we had to ride Percy instead. Obviously, Leo had a bit of a meltdown about this but we promised him we would ride Thomas later.
|The Dino Trail.|
|Riding on Percy. Leo had his mouth open in amazement most of the day!|
The train took us up to the Dino Trail and the Thomas themed outdoor play area and tea rooms. The weather was pretty rubbish so we had a quick walk/run around the dino trail and then it was back to the station. It is a shame it was raining because the play area looked really impressive and being a little bit geeky myself, I would have quite liked to have read about all the dinosaurs.
We managed to hitch a ride back to Knapford station on actual Thomas this time so Leo was in a much better mood and he kept going ‘We’re riding Thomas..We’re riding Annie’. When we got back in to Thomas Land we met up with one of my lovely friends who I haven’t seen in over a year, with her 2 year old boy and fiancé. The boys weren’t too keen on each other to start with as they haven’t seen each other since they were babies, as the day went on they interacted with each other a little bit more though.
|Driving Harold the helicopter.|
|Diesels Locomotive Mayhem.|
|Flying at Jeremy’s Jet Flying Academy.|
Now we were all together it was time to go on all the rides. As with any theme park, even in winter time, the queues took nearly 5 times longer than the actual rides themselves. The kids were surprisingly well behaved while were queueing which was a relief, and I guess it gave us mums a good opportunity to chat and catch up. We went on most of the toddler friendly rides, Leo’s favourite was the Jeremy Jet aeroplanes. Pretty much all the rides in Thomas Land are suitable for toddlers as long as an adult goes on with them. There was a runaway train type rollercoaster but Leo was too small for that and I am pretty sure he would have hated it anyway!
|Waiting very patiently for their turn.|
After a busy couple hours going on the rides we stopped for lunch. There were a few different places we could have bought food from in Thomas Land but theme park prices tend to be a bit extortionate so we planned ahead and packed a picnic. As it is the season to be merry, the men bought themselves a mulled wine to enjoy with their sandwiches (I was quite happy with my coffee, mulled wine is gross).
|I didn’t manage to get a photo of the real Fat Controller.|
Once lunch was finished it was time for more rides. The queuing was a bit of a pain and the rides were short but the kids really enjoyed them. Leo loved spotting all his beloved Thomas characters and telling us their names, did you know the crane is called Cranky? We spotted The Fat Controller wondering about but Leo wouldn’t keep still long enough for a picture.
|Pretty Christmas tree.|
|Christmas lights at Sodor airport.|
|Thomas looking very festive – blurry!|
Thomas Land has been made to look all festive for the Magical Christmas season at Drayton Manor. There is a huge, beautiful Christmas tree and at different times throughout the day it flashes all different colours. As well as the Thomas the Tanktheme tune, Christmas classics were being played as you walked around and fake snow fell from the balcony at Knapford station, the whole atmosphere made me feel very Christmassy indeed.
|Rocking his 3D glasses|
After going on all the rides we went and queued for the 4D showing of the Polar Express. The film only lasted 15 minutes but we had to queue for nearly an hour. If you are visiting a theme park with a toddler I would suggest taking something to entertain them with in the long queues. The boys kept trying to run away and we had quite a few tantrums, when we eventually got into the cinema us parents were quite exhausted! The actually 4D film was ok, the seats moved around a bit, wind whistled around, lights flashed and you got splashed a tiny bit. It was quite a challenge to keep the 3D glasses on Leo but I think he enjoyed the Polar Express, from what he could actually see without the glasses on that is.
In was dark when we came out of the cinema, we had another go on the aeroplanes and the helicopters and then it was time for the Christmas show and parade. Leo didn’t want to watch the show so I took him for another go on the Blue Mountain carousel and then we got back to watch the parade, featuring Santa, The Fat Controller and some Christmassy creatures on stilts.
|Thomas the Reindeer?|
Before we left Thomas Land, Oli ran to the gift shop to buy Leo a soft toy (this is tradition whenever we go on a special day out) and we all stood and watched the fireworks. When we got back to the car we popped Leo in to his pj’s and he was fast asleep within a matter of minutes.
|Snoozing with his new cuddly Thomas.|
It was a really lovely day and it felt extra special spending it with friends we hadn’t seen in such a long time. Although the day was not completely without tears or tantrums, Leo definitely enjoyed Thomas Land and he has been chatting about it a lot the past couple of days. I can’t wait to take him again in the summer time when the rest of Drayton Manor will be open and the seats on the rides will be dry, hopefully.
If you have a Thomas fan then you really must visit Thomas Land when Drayton Manor reopens next year. If you want to visit Drayton Manor Magical Christmas, it is open until December 31st so there is still time. For Oli, myself and Leo it only cost £36, it is slightly more expensive if you want to visit Santa in The Castle of Dreams.
Watch the video below if you want to get even more of feel of what Thomas Land is like at Christmas time…
Have you been to Thomas Land? Or are you thinking of taking your toddler to a theme park for the first time? I was slightly dubious about taking a 2 year old to a theme park but we all had a wonderful, magical day.