It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas... well it is now!
Our Family Life were invited to the opening day of Drayton Manor's Magical Christmas.
Are we nearly there yet? No. Are we nearly there yet? No. Are we nearly there now? Yes! This was what our son Jacob, who's five, asked nearly all the way in our car journey to Drayton Manor near Tamworth in Staffordshire. On and off for 3 hours!
When we arrived, we headed to Drayton Manor's 4-star on site hotel. Where we would be staying for 2 nights. There are 15 Thomas and Friends themed rooms, and you can even book to have a character breakfast with favourites from the series.
The hotel was all lit up and looked lovely as we approached. Famous for Thomas Land, the hotel reception didn't disappoint.
Jacob just had to press the button which made the large carousel with Thomas and Percy in it, go round to soothing music. I don't think there will be any calm children here, just excited ones!
Jacob would have to wait just that little bit longer to go to the park as it was now the evening and we would visit the park tomorrow.
After checking in, we dropped our bags in our lovely room, which had a double bed and a double sofa bed. Yes Amber (our 13 year old) you will have to share a bed with your brother for a couple of nights. She made some kind of grunt, I'm not that good with teenager speak just yet, as we are new to it!
With two restaurants to choose from, we decided to walk across to The Grill Inn. With lots of yummy food on the menu, it was a perfect way to spend our first evening.
Questions is, would the children go to sleep early? Erm, no!
'Stop touching me' Amber said. 'I'm not, you are on my side', came Jacob's reply. This went on for a couple of hours, until finally they were both asleep.
Up bright and early the next morning. Breakfast was included in our stay. There was so much to choose from the buffet breakfast. Even if you have a fussy eater, they should like something on offer.
We jumped in the car and headed down to the main entrance, which wasn't very far, but we wanted to save energy for the day.
Upon entering Drayton Manor, Jacob spotted Thomas Land. This is where we would be getting our train to the other side of the park. We jumped on the train pulled by Percy, and was whisked away through the snowy park.
Our first stop would be to see the reindeers. Jacob was mesmerised. After learning about them, what they like to eat and what their natural habitat is like, we decided to go and see the other animals in the zoo.
We loved the fact that as we walked towards the parrots, they said 'Hello'. Not just one, but 4 parrots said hello to us. Jacob found this really funny.
We also walked the Dino trail which was great to see. Some really big dinosaurs in there!
As we approached the rides, Amber spotted the Ben 10: Ultimate Mission Coaster. Jacob was the right height for it, but decided he didn't like it after walking in the entrance and promptly came back out. Leaving dad, Mark, and Amber to have a ride. They went on it 4 times that day!
Not all of the park is open as it is out of season. But there are still lots of things to see and do, and plenty of places to grab a bite to eat. It's always difficult to get the kids to sit and eat something, as they are too excited.
There's also an indoor ice rink, Slide & Glide, you've seen Bambi, right?!
Mark and Amber went in to The Polar Express 4D cinema experience, and said it was brilliant.
There's a huge, beautiful Christmas tree which has a lights on it, when it gets dark, the light show is lovely.
We spent most of our time in Thomas Land. What a fab place this is. Jacob could go on all these rides. Which he did, and Amber went on most of them with him.
There are over 25 rides and attractions in Thomas Land. So if your child is a Thomas fan, they will love it!
Jacob had great fun on Bertie Bus, he sailed the seas on Captain's Sea Adventure, flew in Harold's Helicopter Tours, loved the Carousel, took out one of Sodor's Classic cars for a drive, had a go on the Cranky Crane, and had great fun on Jeremy Jet's Flying Academy.
He absolutely loved the Troublesome Trucks Runaway Coaster, and I think Mark and Amber did too!
Time for a cup of tea and a rest for 10 minutes. It's cold out there, so make sure you wrap up warm on your visit.
Back in Thomas Land, we danced and sang along with the Fat Controller and his Fungineer friends. Much to Amber's embarrassment, I was singing 'Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow', at the top of my voice. "Oh mum, can you stop please' Amber said.
Then it started to snow! It was great to see Jacob's little face, as we all got covered in snow.
After getting the feeling back in our toes from all the dancing, it was time to visit Father Christmas. Jacob was very excited as we entered the Castle of Dreams. Walking down the warm walkway, he walked in silence, no jumping around, just walking nicely, which makes a change. Anyone would think he was making sure a certain someone had him on the nice list!
An elf guided us to a door, and as we walked in Jacob said 'Hello Father Christmas'. I always get a bit emotional whenever my children do anything like this. Christmas school nativity has me weeping like a baby!
Jacob sat next to Father Christmas, and had a good long chat to him. He told Santa that he wasn't quite sure what he wanted for Christmas yet, could he let him know!
Time for our photograph to capture the memory of the day. Of course we all piled in to the picture. You're never too old to have your picture taken with Father Christmas.
Clutching his present, Jacob had a big smile on his face as we left Father Christmas, saying 'Bye' about 10 times.
And to finish off the day, we watched a brilliant firework display over the lake.
It really was a Magical Christmas event. Perfect family day out. And yes, we now feel all Christmassy.
We also made a video of our day. See below.
If you would like to visit Drayton Manor's Magical Christmas, here is what you need to know:
Opening times: 19th November to 31st December. See website for details as it isn't open Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or Boxing Day as Father Christmas is a bit busy!
Prices including park entry and to visit Father Christmas:
Under 2s = free
Age 2-3 = £12
Age 4-11 & 60+ = £17
Age 12+ =£22
4-Star Hotel: Magical Christmas Stay & Play, Stay in November from just £131.60 for a family for a family of 4** in a family room or £92.50 based on 2 adults.
Stay in December from just £114.80 for a family of 4** in a family room or £78.40 based on two adults***
** Prices based on a Stay and Play for 2 adults and 2 children aged 5.
*** If staying on boxing day, the day in the Park will be on the 27th December.