Review: Drayton Manor's Magical Christmas

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

We have had a lovely year as ambassadors for Drayton Manor and last weekend we were invited along to the first day of Drayton Manors Magical Christmas. We were there bright and early ready for opening and got on the first train from Knapford Station to Tidmouth Hault where we travelled along the snowy track and arrived at Tidmouth Hault to find Father Christmas waiting for us! The kids got to say hello to him when we arrived and he handed each of them a letter and envelope along with some crayons and told them to bring it along with them when they visit him later that afternoon.

We then headed over to watch the reindeer be fed by the keepers who told us all about the three reindeer. The kids learnt loads of facts about them and Gracie found it really interesting. We then walked through the zoo to get to the CN Café where they were holding activities to create presents for the animals to be given to them later that day. Gracie and Zach worked together to create a present for the meerkats. They decorated an egg box with some wonderful colouring then filled it with chopped vegetables and mealworms. They then wrapped it in tissue paper and wrote a little message to them on top.

Next stop was The Polar Express 4D Experience in the 4D cinema. If you have seen The Polar Express then you know the story. This is just 15 minutes worth of the film which I thought would ruin it but they have done it so well and it really works. With shaky seats and squirts of water hitting you whilst watching in your 4D glasses. The movie makes you jump and catches you off guard a few times! Gracie and Zach thought it was hilarious. Elsie not so much. I would say to think twice if you have a very small child or a very nervous child. Elsie was ok but did have to sit on my lap after a while and there were a few small children taken out because they got upset.

We then spent a few hours enjoying the rides before heading to the Meerkat manor in the zoo to see them receive their gifts. The keeper through the parcels into the enclosure and it was great watching them work together to open the packages and the noises they made when they managed to get inside each one. All the kids loved watching them!

Then we were ready to visit the Castle of Dreams and see Father Christmas. The kids have waited all year to see inside the Castle of Dreams so were so excited! Father Christmas was great. He spoke to each of the children, except Elsie who had already fallen asleep from excitement! He gave them each a gift bag and let them talk to him for quite a while. It was nice to not feel rushed and he listened to them so attentively before posing for photos. We then carried on through the Castle of Dreams where there was face painting and toys for the kids to play with. It was really lovely and the decorations were really special.

We stayed and waited for the parade and fireworks. The parade started next to Sodor Airport and led to the lake for the start of the fireworks. Now I didn't have a good experience of the parade. The kids were really excited we were waiting early so we were right at the front. The beginning was really good then they started to move. All the characters walked off and everyone was expected to follow. By the time they stopped to start the next bit of the 'show' my kids were trying desperately to get to the side to get a glimpse of what was going on. Then they started moving again and Gracie and Zach were gone. I had Elsie in the pushchair and I couldn't see where they were. I was moving through the crowds but no one would let me past. Staff were trying to push me back while I was trying to explain I had lost two small children. One guy looked sympathetic but no one offered to help. We eventually found them but they were gone at least 5 whole minutes and luckily Gracie had thought to hold on to Zach's hand when she realised she had lost us. After that we decided to keep away from the parade and go and stand safely at the lake to wait for the fireworks. I think the parade sounds like a good idea but there is just not enough room and with so many small children it is not practical. If you take your kids do keep hold of them tightly or pick them up if you can.

However, the fireworks were brilliant. It was a lovely display in festive colours. They weren't too noisy and there was plenty of room for everyone to see them lighting up over the lake. We all enjoyed the Fireworks. It was a lovely end to the day and despite the scare, the kids really enjoyed the Christmas experience.

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