Today has been a very good day. Why? We were fortunate enough to be invited to Thomasland, which is always hugely popular with my kids, and then to take the excitement up a notch, it was the grand opening of the expansion project. Yes, Thomasland is now even better and bigger than before, with a 40% expansion, including 3 new rides, Sodor Airport and cafe, Victorian fair games, a bandstand and a rather splendid Fat Controller statue.
We’ve long been fans of Thomasland here, and if you fancy seeing a bit more of our adventures there and what it’s all about, I’ve written about it here and here, as we also had a season pass for it last year. We’re lucky enough to live just 15 minutes away from it, and you can guarantee that if you ask my Little Man what he wants to do with his day, any day, he’ll say Thomasland!
So first up, if you’ve never been to Thomasland before, I should tell you why we like it there..
Thomasland Best Bits:
– It is two quality theme parks in one. Drayton Manor is home to Thomasland and both will keep you occupied for a day with a good variety of rides (you can read all about them here)
– The two parks are not too sprawling. What I mean by that is that you get off a ride, you can get on another right by it. There aren’t lots of different zones and areas with long walks to them. It’s all short walks, great for little legs.
– The adventure play area, pictured below, is brilliant, just brilliant. Plenty big enough to provide play space even on busy days. My two would stay there all day!
– Along with both theme parks, there’s also a zoo and dinosaur trail. We normally go over there after lunch to have a walk about before going back onto the rides again. We like the meerkats and they’ve a new walk through house, and I always like to see the small primates and reptile house.
– There are a lot of rides that both of my children can go on. In fact, we’ve been taking Boo since she was 18 months, and she went on practically every ride in Thomasland even from that young an age. Truth be told, she is a bit of a thrill-seeker, always egging on roller-coasters to go faster and faster! Today both Little Man, at 2, and Boo at 5 went on lots of rides, and as well as the more tame options, there are faster ones in Thomasland, and then out in Drayton Manor, there are the big thrill rides.
– As you’d want with any family day out, it’s clean, the staff are friendly and there are amenities scattered all across the park, so you’re never far from eateries, toilets, baby change facilities and so on.
OK, this is where we all have our favourites. Boo loves the Runaway Trucks as it’s a rollercoaster and fast! Little Man likes the Sodor Classic Cars (you can see him driving one above there), as he likes to drive and it takes you through a pretty little farm, too. Me, I like Winston’s Whistle Stop Tour as it takes you all over the top of Thomasland with great views across the park and the Husband likes the classic Thomas train ride, Thomas Engine Tours, that takes you all on a ride through the park over to the other side where the zoo is. And there are many more than that to check out, too.
The play area…
The only issue I have with the play area is that I always struggle to get my pair out of it! There is a little cafe nearby, so the lure of an ice lolly worked today.
Enjoying the zoo and Dino Trail…
There are lots of easy viewing areas for smaller children to be able to see the animals, and Little Man was particularly taken with that East African Crowned Crane. He didn’t want to leave him!
The Dino Trail is full of facts and questions about the huge models, which Boo enjoyed reading now that she can read, and Little Man liked lifting the flaps to reveal the answers.
So I guess what I’m saying here is that prior to the expansion, Thomasland is a great and full day out. And now there’s even more.
The Expansion Project
The additional area, for those of you familiar with the park, is adjacent to the Runaway Trucks. Jeremy Jet’s Flying Academy has moved into the new section to make way for more there, and Merrick the Crane has been added to preside over the Blue Mountain Engines…
Sodor Airport will have viewing balconies and themed rooms, and on the ground floor it provides a nice cafe. I always think it’s useful to have lots of little restaurants at attractions like this so that people aren’t all crammed into one space come lunchtime. There are plenty spread out across Drayton Manor, and now there is this one, too, with the biggest eclairs I’ve ever seen!
There are three brand new rides…
Flynn’s Fire Rescue
As you can see, someone can ride in the cab and ‘steer’ whilst another person stands on the platform and sprays the targets with the hose.
Captain’s Sea Adventure
This one was the kids’ favourite, a little roundabout boat ride, and they giggled throughout it! You can squirt water from the pistols, and also get wet yourself (you’re not likely to get soaked, it’s ok!)
Toby’s Tram Express
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to try Toby as he had opening day nerves. He went round a few times that I saw, and I was lucky enough to grab a video to share with you, but he was having teething problems. One to go back and try another day.
And here’s a little video of some of the rides, old and new, in action…
Can you see why I now have two exhausted but very happy children tucked up in bed here? Thomasland is a full day out, with loads to pack in, and there’s so much that we didn’t even do today. I think for us that’s the benefit of living so close by – we know we’ll soon be back….!
So what do you think? If you’ve been before, has this tempted you to return? If you’ve never been, what do you make of Thomasland?
Disclosure: We received press entry to this event FOC, though all words and opinions remain my own