James and the Red Balloon

Guest blogger Laura Hands writes about her children visiting Drayton Manor. Follow Laura at: twitter.com/handsondaysout

James and the Red Balloon comes to Drayton Manor

Harold, Toby, Bertie: If you are the parent of a child under the age of about seven these are names you will all know well; not because they are in your child’s class at school but because they are characters from the beloved Thomas the Tank engine series.

Characters (a helicopter, tram and bus for the uninitiated!) that you get to meet on the range of family-friendly rides at Thomas Land, part of Drayton Manor Park in Staffordshire.

Joining them all as of Saturday 1st April was James the engine and his Big Red Balloon ride and we were thrilled to go along to experience the newest addition to the park.
Drayton Manor Park is immediately inviting.

Family owned since 1950 it is evident in every detail that ‘total value family entertainment’ is at its core. We were some of the first visitors of the day and found that the park was clean and well signposted with staff who were friendly and welcoming. Driving in past the stunning hotel and catching a glimpse of some of the extreme rollercoasters only served to build up the tension for an already excited two and five year old.

We entered Thomas Land and found that it is as bright and engaging as you would hope it to be. At every turn, there is another ride to discover– and most importantly for us – the whole family could access (nearly) all of them. Something that made for a very happy little boy. (And I do mean little as he’s not yet 1 metre).

In the nine months since we last visited the park there have been many improvements. Developments to the Sodor Airport section include a new station and statues for the children to engage with as well as, of course, James himself. Our children were entranced.

Understandably, James and the Big Red Balloon was the first ride that both of our children wanted to experience. Luckily, the queue moved quickly as the ride can seat eight families. However, the inevitable queuing was made more bearable by the statues that the children could play alongside. When their turn came, they eagerly scrambled into a basket with daddy.

Squeals and giggles drifted down as I watched the basket travel up and down whilst it circled around. Although that may be enough to make some feel dizzy, my two daredevils loved the fact that they could spin the individual basket at a pace of their choosing; leaving daddy feeling more than a little queasy. He was certainly relieved when they wanted to explore the rest of the park as from their birds eye view they’d seen that there was so much more fun to be had.


There really was plenty to do in Thomas Land alone and we were able to make a full day of the trip. It is easy to access, free to park and even offers a rainy day guarantee. In the words of my 5-year old? Awesome, brilliant, excellent, fun.

Visit Drayton Manor here for more details: draytonmanor.co.uk

The Hands family were kindly invited to visit Thomas Land on behalf of #BrumHour by Drayton Manor. This is not a sponsored post.