Visiting Santa At Drayton Manor [Ordinary Days]


We make an effort to take Emily to see Santa at the beginning of December every year to kick start our year the right way, and this year was no different. Normally we would take her to our local farm, but she has been going on and on about returning to Drayton Manor, and Thomas land. When I saw the adverts for there magical Christmas I knew that Emily would absolutely love it, and the fact everything was so festive, and there was a promise of snow - I was sold. With it also being Isabelle's first christmas, I knew I wanted to make it a special one anyway and that is exactly what it was.


We didn't actually tell Emily where we were going, just that we were going somewhere magical and she would get to see Santa, As soon as she saw the entrance to the park her face lit up and she was beside herself with excitement. The excitement that just kept growing through the day, especially when she saw that Bobby and her grandad were joining us there for the day! Our first stop was to grab a hot drink, as we got there when the park opened, about 30 minutes before the rides opened. It gave Emily plenty of time to eat some toast, and walk around the park taking it all in.


Throughout the day there were shows on top of Knapford Station where Sir Topham Hat and his friends sing songs, tell jokes and are genuinely very festive. Emily was a little apprehensive about watching the show at first because there were lots of people, but I'm glad we stayed as the show ends with snow falling, and the look on Emily's face was pure amazement. It couldn't have been more magical if they tried. Don't worry though, the snow was really bubbles which soon dissolved after they had completely covered by pushchair in bubbles, but Isabelle found it fascinating and kept reaching for them. I thought that Emily would notice it was bubbles instead of snow, but she was none the wiser, and completely consumed by the magic - as far as she was concerned, it was REAL snow.

On the day we visited all the Thomas Land rides were open, but there was talk of closing a few of the bigger ones due to the weather conditions - only we would pick a day to go when it was freezing cold and raining all day, luckily that didn't seem to bother Emily at all. There were much shorter queues than last time we visited, and I'm putting that down to the weather. Emily went on her favourite ride, Diesels Locomotive Mayhem was the one thing we kept going back to throughout the day. I think she ended up going on it about 4 times, just like the first time we visited.


As well as the rides, Drayton Manor Zoo was open, which is accessible by walking or by taking the Thomas or Percy train. Our plan was to originally take Thomas up to the Zoo, but Emily refused to get off, so after a roundtrip on Thomas we ended up walking up to the Zoo which only took about 5 minutes. Most of the animals were hiding away which I can't really blame them for as it was so cold.  

We also made the most of the food facilities while we were there, Sam and I had a burger and chips from the Burger Kitchen, and Emily had chicken bites. It honestly was the yummiest food I have had in a theme park, and the price was really reasonable, and it warmed us up. Emily definitely approved as she ate the whole lot.



We then headed over to the Castle of Dreams to meet Santa. We queued up on a festive walkway that overlooked the lake as they let one family in at a time. We didn't actually end up waiting all that long which was brilliant, as they were letting just one family in at a time. When Emily met Santa she was full of confidence and chatted away - unlike previous years. She even told him what she would like for Christmas which was a big shock to us, as normally she goes really shy and hides. Both Emily and Isabelle were given a gift by Santa, and the whole experience was lovely, the room that Santa was in was beautifully decorated and there was even a Christmas tree much to Emily's delight, just before we left we got a picture.

I did get a little upset as there were lots of technical difficulties which meant the one nice family picture with Santa got erased while they were rebooting the system with it being Isabelle's first Christmas and the fact I am a real sentimental person, it, of course, upset me, but luckily Santa took three and I had to settle for one of the others that I wasn't so keen on. The staff were amazing though, they offered for us to go back in and retake it, but by the time the system had rebooted I had already been standing around for about 20 minutes, and Isabelle was far to upset and red-faced to go back in again, at just 5 months old, the waiting around and the fact she wanted a bottle was just too much for her. I cannot praise the staff enough, they handled the whole thing with patience and were very polite even though you could tell they were just as frustrated as we were, and it wasn't the first time it happened - maybe something they need to look into next year.



The gift from Santa was a little paper bag containing a festive storybook, a chocolate lolly and a ticket for them to return to the park next year (for free with a paying adult). Emily was so happy with her gift. Once you came out from meeting Santa, you stepped into the middle of the castle which was beautifully decorated and really festive. They had face painting, various crafts and games as well as lots of props for you to take pictures of your little ones. I was so thankful that all of it was there, as we had to wait for our picture problem to be resolved and it did keep Emily amused.

Once we came out of the castle, it had started to get dark so Drayton Manor's lights had come on which made the whole park look so beautiful and really changed the atmosphere. Emily loved the beautiful lights, by this point, it was nearly time for the fireworks and the Christmas parade. We did watch the parade but there was lots of confusion as to where the parade started and we only got to catch the tail end of the parade. We did have a really good spot for the fireworks though, although I did find them a little disappointed. Emily was expecting big bangs and pretty fireworks but this wasn't really the case. The fireworks went along with the Nutcracker music, and there weren't very big bangs, to be really honest she was bored of the fireworks within a couple of minutes.



Overall, we had a lovely day, it was packed full of fun and really festive, we did, however, need a full day to recover as we didn't seem to stop all day. If you are thinking of visiting I would so recommend it. I think we will even be back next year!

- disclosure, I did pay for our entrance, I just wanted to share our experience with you.

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