ellaslist Steams Into Thomas Land UK
By: Stephanie Boyle, ellaslist explorer
ellaslist Explorer, Stephanie brings us the best of her recent family holiday to the UK. One of the highlights, in fact one of the reasons they ended up in the UK not Japan, was Thomas Land UK, an amazing Thomas the Tank Engine theme park located in Tamworth, near Birmingham, a couple of hours north of London. Find out more about this must-do attraction for any little train spotters heading England-way.
A Long-Standing Train Fan
When I found myself the mother to a little boy for the first time four years ago, I wholeheartedly encouraged his fascination and obsession with trains, and by logical extension, with Thomas the Tank Engine. I didn’t have to make much of an effort however and my son’s love for Thomas has now continued unabated for almost two and a half years.
Over the years, my son and I have enjoyed hunting for harder to come by wooden engines for his collection, have attended the Thomas Big Day Out at Trainworks, held an enormous Thomas themed party for over 30 of his ‘closest’ friends and their family, attended the premiere of several Thomas movies and amassed an enormous assortment of Thomas books, DVDs, clothing, bedding and other themed paraphernalia!
Thomas Sways The Plan
It would come as no surprise then, that when we began planning a family holiday last year, a visit to one of the Thomas Land theme parks featured heavily in our discussions. At first we thought the Thomas Land just outside of Tokyo might be the ticket, but we then decided to throw caution to the wind and take our then 3 year old and 8 month old to visit their cousins in London. Thomas Land UK then became a very, very important and much anticipated part of our itinerary.
Thomas Land UK is part of the Drayton Manor theme park located close to the station of Tamworth, near Birmingham. It is a relatively easy 2.5 hour drive from the centre of London but with traffic being somewhat of a nightmare these days, we decided to stay on theme and take the train. As any mother of a train enthusiast will tell you when taking your little one on a new train route, the trip itself will be almost as important, if not more so, than the destination!
Pre-Book & Save
We purchased tickets for both the train journey and Thomas Land online prior to leaving since there were significant discounts to be had. The early train trip from London’s Euston took approximately 1.5 hours and went by in a blur. It was an easy trip. My son was captivated by the beautiful English countryside scenery and filled with anticipation. When we arrived at Tamworth station we quickly found a maxi-taxi into which our youngest son’s entire pram could be lifted (meaning our 8 month old could remain strapped in) and enjoyed a very quick 10-15 minute drive to Drayton Manor.
The First Glimpse of Sodor
It’s difficult to describe the excitement that we all felt walking through the gates and taking the short stroll down the hill to Thomas Land. I will never forget witnessing my little boy’s over-excited first glimpse of ‘Sodor’ and seeing one of his dreams realised. For him, this was the Thomas of his stories and movies brought to life.
Six Hours of Fun Coming Up
We arrived at approximately 10am and spent the next six hours jumping on and off rides, walking around the zoo, playing on the indoor and outdoor play equipment, eating lunch, enjoying hot chocolates to warm up and shopping in the Thomas Land shop. The latter was somewhat disappointing. I’d been all geared up to buy some exclusive Thomas Land merchandise and perhaps even an exclusive engine or two for my Thomas-mad son but there was very little for sale that couldn’t be purchased elsewhere.
Rides For All Ages
The vast majority of the rides were absolutely perfect for my 3.5 year old son; just the right combination of thrill and fun, although I think that genuine Thomas fans would have a wonderful time regardless of their age. Toddlers could enjoy the zoo, playgrounds and train ride as well as a few of the smaller rides, while for slightly older children there were a couple of thrill seeking rides such as the Troublesome Trucks rollercoaster that were slightly beyond my son. To avoid disappointment, it is worth being mindful of the height restrictions applicable to the rides, which are available on Drayton Manor’s website.
Riding Percy & Bertie & More
My son rocked and rolled in Captain the boat, took a spin on Bertie the bus, flew high in the air on Harold the Helicopter, rode Percy all the way to the other side of the park where he visited the miniature zoo, saw Terrance the Tractor and played on the Spencer adventure playground. There was also a hall containing a huge model railway and a small dinosaur park with life size model dinosaurs (perhaps not authentically Thomas, but fun nonetheless).
One Day Not Enough
We were all extremely sad to have to leave at the end of the day and I regretted not having booked a room at the neighbouring Thomas themed hotel for the night. Prior to our visit this had seemed excessive but having realised that we could have easily filled two whole days at Thomas Land, and having burnt off so much energy, a close by warm hotel with a cozy bed appeared to be a very attractive prospect!
Memories That Won’t Fade
Our trip to Thomas Land was absolutely magical from beginning to end and was a day that I feel will remain in my son’s memory for a lifetime. If you are fortunate enough to visit the UK and have a little budding engineer, I would strongly encourage you to race full steam ahead to Drayton Manor for a day or two!
ellaslist Top Tips
1. Stay the night! There’s so much to do at Drayton Manor and absolutely enough to fill two whole days (particularly during the winter months when the days are short). To make things easier and even more exciting, there’s a Thomas themed hotel right next door within walking distance!
2. Book your tickets online. There are amazing discounts for the purchase of entry passes online. We saved almost 50%!
3. Pack lunch. There is food available at Thomasland but its certainly not one of the highlights of the experience.
4. If you have children of different ages, children older than 6 will appreciate you planning your trip outside of the winter months since the majority of Drayton Manor (with the exception of Thomasland) is closed for this period.
5. Forget the car and take the train and a cab! It’s all part of the experience and is quick, comfortable and affordable.
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