Thomas Land expansion at Drayton Manor Theme Park

FatcontrollerI thought we’d start today’s post with a sing-a-long. My rhyme is sung to the tune of Thomas the Tank Engine’s theme song (we’re two, we’re four, we’re six, we’re eight, counting trucks and hauling freight…) and sums up the brilliant time my family had at the opening of the Thomas Land expansion at Drayton Manor Theme Park. So here we go…

‘We’re one, we’re two, we’re three, we’re more, gone to Drayton for a tour, of the brand new Thomas Land, its got bigger and so grand! With some brand new rides to play, we had a merry lively day, Thomas makes us really glad, for the fun we had.’


On the 8th April Bloggers and VIPs made their way to the grand opening of the Thomas Land expansion at Drayton Manor Theme Park in Staffordshire. The expansion has seen Thomas Land grow 40% in size and gain three brand new rides, an airport café, band stand and even old fashioned fairground games.


My little engine drivers were completely over excited when the day finally arrived and we stepped foot into Thomas Land. They’ve all loved the programs, books and toys and of course when you throw rides into the mix you’re guaranteed a fabulous day out. I on the other hand was rather apprehensive, the opening took place during the Easter holidays and I was imagining queues and chaos everywhere I looked. Admittedly Thomas Land got a bit crowded once it opened to the public, but chaotic it was not. All the rides were easily accessible and our longest wait was 15 minutes which as any theme park visitor will tell you is really not a long time. I was also seriously impressed with the staff. We had Granny along for the adventure and at one point she dropped a box of popcorn while holding too many things. She came to grab me to go back and help scoop it up but when we turned around it was already being swept away by a diligent member of Thomas Land’s crew, now that’s an efficient service! On to the new rides…

Flynn’s Fire & Rescueflynnsfirerescue

In Flynn’s new ride would-be firefighters climb aboard a fire engine and shoot water at a burning tower (no real fire though parents). The cherry picker goes up and down as you try and aim the water through holes in the tower sides. Younger firefighters can ride along in the engine below. This was by far my youngest favourite ride and we had several goes, a word of warning though you may get splashed!

Captain’s Sea AdventureCaptainsseaadventure

Climb aboard Captain as he twirls in circles around the centre of the ride. Crank your water cannon and try to shoot everyone in the boats nearby or even those waiting in the queue! My eldest two loved this ride and had several turns until they had perfected their watery aim.

Toby’s Tram Expresstobystramexpress

I would love to be able to give you a detailed description of Toby’s new ride but unfortunately while he was working initially, he’d had a few teething problems and we never got to have a go. From what we saw he rises into the air and swings around for a thrilling aerial adventure.

A short video

I took a few videos of all our fun and you can see a small selection here (including a talking Cockatoo!)

Other new additionsmerrickbluemountain

The Blue Mountain Engines now have Merrick overseeing their journey, which really brings the ride to life.

jeremyjetsflyingSodor Airport sits at the heart of the expansion and offers views across the park from its balcony. A café below is a welcome respite for any weary parents and is situated right by Jeremy Jet’s Flying Academy which looks perfectly at home in its new position. Incidentally this is my daughter’s favourite ride 🙂


After a ride on Thomas and the Troublesome trucks overseen by Cranky the Crane, Granny and Mummy were feeling rather tired so we popped into the Thomas Soft Play Centre which is located by the large gift shop. Comfy sofas were provided for the parents while the kids had a fabulous time climbing and sliding within this brilliantly equipped play area.


Drayton has much more to offer for the whole family but it would easily take me another post to cover even some of it. There’s a zoo, 4d cinema, rides aplenty and even a Dino World. Suffice to say another visit will have to be planned!draytonmanorextra

For more information

Visit Thomas Land online for more details and to book early bird price tickets.


Sea Stars at the National Sealife Centre, Birmingham

A brand new attraction called Sea Stars at the National Sealife Centre, Birmingham opened this Easter and my family popped along to meet the new nautical recruits. We were expecting a brilliant day out (who doesn’t love seeing wondrous sea creatures) but did the new exhibit and the centre as a whole live up to our expectations?vintage lobster dress

I actually had the perfect outfit lined up for my trip, this is a 1960s vintage Lobster and Crab dress with matching jacket! Unfortunately the weather was conspiring against us, it rained cats and dogs (or starfish and seahorse) the wind was intense and our sat nav basically lied. Thankfully the Sealife Centre is well signposted and we got there in the end. The centre is entirely indoors (and safe from the rain!) with a walkway design, which means you never feel crowded or hemmed in no matter how many people appear to be there.


These extremely cute penguins greet you as soon as you walk in. I could write a whole post just about these guys but they weren’t the ‘stars’ we came to see that day.sealifehellos

Along the walkway we met some exceedingly friendly fish and shrimp who posed when I pointed my camera in their direction. They were probably saying something akin to ‘No pictures!’ or maybe they just love the limelight. Although this little fellow in the next picture definitely looked nervous! scared fish

About half way round the centre you come to the brand new Sea Stars exhibit and it’s wonderful! Starfish have an enduring appeal all of their own, their shape and style sets them apart from other aquatic creatures. While their slow movement gives them the appearance of a laidback and likable nature. But little did we know they came in so many sizes and varieties! Here you can get up close and personal with some of the more unusual kinds. Pop your head inside a bubble to see starfish from a brand new perspective.sealife bubble

We marvelled at this fashion conscious fellow with his funky red spikes.funky starfishstarfish2

And if you ever wondered what a starfish feels like to touch (rubber if you ask me) you can even stroke one in a small pool.starfishmeet

If you thought starfish were small, then it’s time to think again, we met the ultimate King of the Starfish! I never dreamt they could grow so large. Giant starfish

There were many more varieties who resembled suns, sponges and much more! Information points were dotted around the animals and if you weren’t a fan of starfish before I can guarantee you will be by the time you leave, or at the very least you’ll have a whole new respect for them.

Just after Sea Stars we spied some amazing jelly fish floating about in their tanks. Considering the sting these chaps can inflict they really are very graceful.jellysealife

Extremely playful rays (I love those guys!).sealiferay

The cutest frog ever!


tiny frog

The Sealife Centre even have otters (who were fast asleep) but given that they were sleeping in the most adorable way I think we can forgive them taking a morning nap.

sleepy otter

Of course there’s also the famous sea tunnel where the public walk through a humongous tank filled with sharks, rays, fish and even a giant turtle.sealifetunnel



If I had to sum up a visit to the National Sealife Centre and what you should expect I would say this:


Take a camera (but no flash please, we don’t want to scare anyone) and expect to spend a good part of your day going ‘Ooooh, aaaaahhhh’ and pointing like a toddler at everything and anything. Give yourself time to enjoy the exhibits and read the information available (I’m very bad at this, I tend to skip about in sheer delight at the animals). Despite being a busy weekend I found the keepers and staff to be enthusiastic and helpful, we appreciated their work which meant we could meet these wondrous creatures from the deep.


We hope we can go back soon and watch some of the animals for feeding time or other displays, but I’d definitely recommend a visit. I don’t think this one is just for the kids either, adults are equally pleased by the displays. Of course that means I’ll have to find a new sea themed outfit….


For now I’ll leave you with a short video showing some of the fun we had 

A Day Out – Thomas Land at Drayton Manor


As I mentioned in my previous post, my family and I were invited along to Thomas Land at Drayton Manor. We viewed a special screening of Thomas the Tank Engine’s new movie ‘Thomas Tale of the Brave’. After the film we headed out into the park.Thomas Land

We began our day out with a ride on Thomas himself, complete with moving eyes!

IMG_0251Despite the traditional age of Thomas fans the world over, the park caters for just about everyone. My youngest is shy of most rides but there was plenty of non threatening fun which didn’t scare or concern. His favourite was Terence’s Driving School where he was let loose on a moving vehicle, it’s a good job those friendly theme park assistants have quick legs!


My daughter’s favourite was Jeremy’s Flying Academy where she could control the height of her plane as she spun around.

IMG_0049For my son (who is a thrill seeker in training) there was the family friendly Troublesome Trucks roller coaster, he squealed with glee as he sped along the rails. I on the other hand (less keen on rides) actually felt very brave that I managed to join him!

IMG_0016While I enjoyed every ride that I went on, the children were even more impressed with the large selection that they were allowed to ride on alone.

IMG_9938We also managed to explore the rest of Drayton Manor and were pleasantly surprised by just how much there was to see. There’s a wonderful zoo complete with Panthers, Meerkats, Monkeys and even a tiger settling in.


We pretended to be pirates and my kids were caught by a Great White Shark! We truly had a fabulous day and can’t wait to return to Drayton Manor soon.IMG_0118IMG_9925