Getting into the festive spirit at Drayton Manor’s Magical Christmas event
She’s only 18 months but our visit to Drayton Manor this month was actually the second time Roma had been there. Not bad going ay? It’s probably just as well a family-friendly theme park has become the go-to as it means I don’t need to psyche myself up and second-guess the capabilities of my stomach for more adult rides elsewhere.
We were first invited back in June for the tenth anniversary of Thomas Land at which time the little lady had only just turned one and found her feet, so it was a special milestone because it marked the first time we let her out the pram to potter around on a day out.
Now at the tail-end of November and we received another invitation, this time to experience Drayton’s Magical Christmas event and it was a stark contrast from the summer visit we’d previously made. For starters, Roma doesn’t just potter, she charges full steam ahead now and is far more aware of what’s going on around her.
Drayton Manor itself was unrecognisable too. The scorching-hot summer we experienced there previously was left behind with tees, shorts and caps, which were traded in for jumpers, jeans and woolly hats to brace for the autumn/winter chill.
The key difference with the park wasn’t just that it had been adorned in all manner of festive decorations throughout, half of it had been closed off so the thrill rides were unavailable. This in itself was ideal because:
(1) I wouldn’t have to challenge myself to go on any vom-inducing roller-coasters
(2) It was only families present, so the honour of creating mayhem was left to the little people instead of teenagers.
After first hitting Thomas Land to give Roma a fresh nappy in the spacious baby change area, we made a beeline for the café and lined our stomachs. Clearly experiencing the festive feels, the minute she saw the complimentary mince pies doing the rounds, Roma started chanting “Cake, cake!” Who was I to defy her demands for the fruity, pastry-based goodness?
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Looks like I’ve got someone I have to share my stash of mince pies with now 😣😋🍰 #DADultLife #MincePies #SeasonOfGivingA post shared by Zen | DADult Life (@dadultlife) on
With a refuel done, we made our way back to Thomas Land, parked up the pram and queued up to board Percy for an engine tour to the other side of the park. We weren’t really too sure where we were going to end up to be honest, but we arrived up in the zoo. With a look at a couple of the enclosures by the station and a perusal of the Discover Thomas Exhibition, which houses a model railway that features all the characters chugging around, we reboarded the train and headed back to Thomas Land along the snow-covered track, delighted to find our buggy hadn’t been nicked.
Throughout the day, a handful of special Christmas-themed performances take place on the station balcony with the Fat Controller and friends, so while we were waiting for the next one to kick-off, we killed some time and jumped on a couple of rides. I took Roma on Jeremy Jet’s Flying Academy – pacier than it looks! – and the Blue Mountain Engines while the girls went on James and the Red Balloon, giving me the perfect opportunity to crack open our stash of Doritos while I waited.
Finally, it was time for the live performance and the Fat Controller and company hopped into action, performing a seasonal show that interacted with all the faces staring up at them. The pièce de résistance was the snowfall that came along at the end, which got everyone smiling and capturing the moment on their cameras. How often do we get a white Christmas after all?
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Well, based on my previous post, the weather at @draytonmanorpark today couldn’t have been more different – just look at that snow! ☃️🌨️😉 We were there for the #MagicalChristmas press event and it’s safe to say the festive spirit is definitely up and running now – the mince pies knocking about helped 😋 Just four months have passed since we made our first visit to the park and it couldn’t have been more different this time around and not just because of the temperature. Last time was more ride-focused whereas today was less about the thrills and more activity and event-led to spread the seasonal cheer and it was much easier to get Roma on board since she’s developed so drastically since the summer – and the mince pies knocking about helped her too 😋 Having bagged a private audience with Father Christmas, I think we’re all on his Nice list, so bring on the big day! 🎅🎄🎁 #DADultLife #DraytonManorPark #DraytonManor #FamilyDayOut #ThomasLand #Christmas2018A post shared by Zen | DADult Life (@dadultlife) on
Next on the itinerary was a visit to Father Christmas himself at the Castle of Dreams, where we were allocated a 2pm time slot and I have to say having bookings lined up is a solid idea to prevent any huffing and puffing from impatient infants. And although we were early, the elves guarding the castle ushered us straight through to see the big man.
Although more aware, she was equally as unsure about the red-suited, bearded gent – presumably nervous and hopeful she’d made it onto his Nice List. I was very impressed though as his grotto looked really authentic and he was really, well, jolly – just as I remember him from my own childhood… The visit included a photo taken on a camera in the grotto and a goodie bag for Roma, which had a special Thomas bauble for her to hang on our Christmas tree inside as well as a bar of chocolate.
After that we grabbed some food and waited for night to fall for the Imagination Parade to kick off at 4.30pm. Beginning outside Thomas Land, we could have had prime positioning for where it started but impatient toddler in need of entertainment prevented that, so we were on the move. Unsure where exactly the parade would end – a member of staff was none the wiser either – we managed to find what we thought was a good spot and pitched up. With narration telling a special festive tale as performers including the Fat Controller marched along, it was easy to see a lot of thought and planning had gone into the production.
Of course, for all of our fretting to get a good spot and sitting Roma on my shoulders so she could see it all, killing my back in the process, the little angel fell asleep while she was up there! Still, Jenna and I enjoyed the display before us. Once the performers passed by, the crowd joined the procession, which eventually led up to the lake for a firework display. But with Roma sound asleep, we saw this as the perfect opportunity to make our way towards the exit to head home.
All in all, it was a solid day out and I’d definitely recommend it. Even if it means putting up with the seemingly never-ending 50mph speed limits on the M1 to get there. The Christmas spirit? It’s definitely been unlocked for us.