Drayton Manor Park 31-10-09

 Drayton Manor Park“If you have youngsters, the park still remains an excellent (if wearing) day out.”

Drayton Manor Park – Halloween/Fireworks Spectacular! 31st October 2009

The theme park season may be over now, but it went out with a bang – certainly at Drayton Manor Park.

For many years now, Drayton Manor has claimed the title as one of the best family days out in the country. The introduction of Thomas Land in 2008 certainly secured this. If you have youngsters, the park still remains an excellent (if wearing) day out.

The biggest issue remains the queues and crowds. It’s a pretty tight park, and doesn’t handle large crowds well. On a popular event like these, you have to expect the place to get busy. You’ll need to grab hold of little hands and keep a close eye on things.

In terms of rides, Drayton had plenty open for most of the day. They are a good range for the smallest child with train rides and a carousel, to excellent thrill rides like Shockwave (Europe’s only stand-up roller coaster). The emphasis does tend to be on the younger side though, so don’t expect the teens to be as enthralled as they might be at Alton Towers.

The day itself passed very smoothly. The family managed to get onto a fair number of rides with only minimal queueing. A nice walk through the zoo to the children’s play area for a picnic was a great way to break the day up. Drayton Manor does tend to come in for a lot of criticism for the quality of its food, and it’s often justified – so a picnic is always a good alternative.

As night started to fall, a few rides were closed for preparation of the fireworks (alongside those which must be closed for safety reasons). Within half an hour of the firework event due to start, bodies piled towards the lake front where the spectacular was due to be held.

There had clearly been a huge amount of effort put into the display. A “screen” was created out of a fine mist on the lake, where Colin Bryan – MD of Drayton Manor Park – told a tale of Drayton’s history. This was punctuated with some excellent fireworks, including several on the rides. The Buffalo Coaster riding the tracks covered in Roman Candles was excellent, as were the fireworks on the top of Apocalypse.

The story continued with Mr Bryan introducing the next generation to run the park. It’s a fitting tale to tell as Drayton Manor Park enters into its sixtieth year as a pleasure park in 2010.

The display, fireworks and laser show were all absolutely stunning, as were the fish and chips we ate while watching them. There is good food to be found at Drayton Manor, you just need to know where to look (the chip shop is on the hill just passed Apocalypse).

The day went very well, with some of the queues we expected, but it was all handled very well. The park itself has been looking a little tatty around the edges now for some years though. This hasn’t been put to rights just yet – hopefully over this closed season they can do some more work. Several rides have had broken or missing parts for quite some time. The Golden Nuggets Ride (mine car cowboy shooting ride), Excalibur (boat ride) and Pirate Adventure (pirate themed boat ride) are all by far the worst of these.

The day was certainly worth the money, with the excellent firework display topping off a good theme park day. The niggles can be overlooked when you’re having fun.

A word of warning for the weak of heart though. The halloween 3D cinema show (in the new for 2009 3D cinema) is quite disturbing. It’s a great show, but one that may upset younger kids or those who are easily disturbed by mildly scary images (the dolls freaked out most of the family_furie).

Will we head back again next year? I should think so!

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