All aboard for thrills and Thomas Land

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Set in countless acres of sprawling Staffordshire countryside is the family-friendly, thrill-a-minute Drayton Manor theme park and the associated Thomas Land.

Wide-open spaces are peppered with giant white-knuckle rides that puncture the sky, such as the Apocalpse drop tower, which plunges you to the ground from a height of 48 metres.

But for those who like a more sedate pace to their days out or, perhaps more importantly, you have younger children to account for, do not fear.

For this park, which is only a stone’s throw from Derbyshire by car, boasts the brilliant Thomas Land that fills the imagination of youngsters with thoughts of the Fat Controller, Troublesome Trucks and Sodor Island, the home of Thomas and his friends.

There is also the associated zoo and conservation area, which boasts more than 100 different species of animal from across the globe set in 15 acres.

From endangered species including an imperious tiger, to monkeys aplenty and penguins, there is enough to be awe-inspired and gushing in equal measure.

The park has become something of a fun-seekers’ behemoth and now also entices visitors with a hotel, restaurants and even a campsite for those who want to extend their stay and revel in the site.

But with two young children under the age of five, it was all about the excitement of Thomas Land — and their first port of call was a ride in the carriages Annie and Clarabel as Thomas chugged from Knapford Station and along the line that winds its way through the section.

Then we had to queue again until my daughter’s favourite engine, the pink-coloured Rosie, made the return journey!

It was then time for a whistle-stop tour of the rest of Thomas Land’s attractions as we sped past circus entertainers and the Controller himself.

Harold’s Helicopter Tours, Rocking Bulstrode, Sodor Classic Cars and Crazy Bertie Bus were all on the itinerary but to mention a few.

A brief respite was afforded mum and dad — but only to find time for a quick bite to eat in one of the many excellent facilities — which turned out simply to be a stepping stone towards a large ice-cream!

But for kids it isn’t just about Thomas Land. Many of the other rides are also suitable, meaning there is something for everyone.

The Splash Canyon rapids and horse carousel were both tried out before a tour of the zoo.

I and my family would wholeheartedly recommend paying Drayton Manor a visit — and what better time than with the half-term holiday on the horizon?

For details of special offers, ticket prices by season, opening times and rates for the hotel and extended stays, visit www.draytonmanor.co.uk.