Drayton Manor features dozens of rides aimed at a variety of age groups. Our reviews are designed to help you decide which ones to prioritise, but if you only have a short period to explore the park then make sure to experience the attractions below.
The park is divided into several themed areas, each of which hosts a number of attractions. On entering the park, guests can turn left to find themselves in Thomas Land, a completely self-contained area that recreates the world of Thomas & Friends. To the right is Action Park, home to some of the park’s biggest thrill rides, including Shockwave, G-Force and Splash Canyon.
Other areas include Fisherman’s Wharf (which hosts Stormforce 10 and the Polperro Express Railway) and Pirate Cove (home to Excalibur and Pirate Adventure). Aerial Park houses the high-flying Apocalypse and Pandemonium, and also incorporates Cartoon Network Street, on which the Ben 10: Ultimate Mission roller coaster can be found.
Adults, teenagers and older kids:
Older guests looking for adrenaline-pumping thrills are well-served by Drayton Manor’s attraction line-up:
- Apocalypse – there are bad drop towers, there are good drop towers, and there’s Apocalypse. This magnificent 5-sided beast offers three different types of experience – riders can either be seated, or standing with or without a floor. This adds hugely to the re-ride value, although it’s likely that the stunning 177-feet freefall drop would be enough to entice you back for more anyway.
- Stormforce 10 – you’ll be asked for a donation to the RNLI when you ride this lifeboat-themed attraction, and given its quality you’ll probably be willing to cough up with no complaints. Featuring three separate drops (including one that sees riders travelling backwards), it will leave you soaked from head-to-toe.
- Shockwave – it may be getting on a bit, but Europe’s only stand-up roller coaster still pulls in the crowds. While stand-up roller coasters don’t offer the most comfortable experience, the ride is worth enduring a small amount of pain for. It’s also completely unique, being the only stand-up coaster ever to feature a zero-g roll in its circuit.
- Maelstrom – it may be just another gyro swing ride, but Maelstrom scores additional points for incorporating a backstory (a storm has devastated a coastal village). As with all rides of its type, riders swinging back-and-forth and spin in circles at the same time, providing a dizzying but highly entertaining experience.
- The Haunting – while it’s not quite on a par with the similar Hex - The Legend of the Towers at Alton Towers, The Haunting still stands out from the majority of the UK’s poorly-themed attractions. After a walk through a spooky mansion, you’ll experience a disorienting ride that appears to leave you hanging upside down…or does it?
- Pandemonium – thrill-seekers will enjoy this dual inverting swinging ride, which features gondolas that gradually pick up pace until they are rotating in a full 360-degree arc.
- G-Force – OK…we consider this one optional. Given its prominent location at the front of the park and the fact that it looks like a thrilling coaster, many guests won’t be able to resist G-Force. In reality, though, it’s so smooth and free of sensation that it’s like riding a park bench.
Young children (aged 8 and under):
- Knapford Station – no visit to the home of Thomas Land would be complete with out a ride on Thomas himself, or on his friends Rosie and Percy. The trip itself may be a little short, but this is pure wish fulfilment for young fans.
- Troublesome Trucks Runaway Coaster – Thomas Land’s roller coaster is a great introduction to thrills rides for younger kids, who can graduate to Ben 10: Ultimate Mission when they get a little older and braver.
- Polperro Express Railway – it may not be Thomas-themed, but Drayton Manor’s other railway offers a much longer journey around the outskirts of the park.
- Harold’s Heli Tours – as with many of Disney’s most popular children’s rides, Harold’s Heli Tours is little more than a standard funfair ride with a bit of theming liberally applied. It works, though, and most kids love it.
- 4-D Cinema – Drayton Manor’s 4-D cinema rotates its offering every season, but all have been family-friendly so far. Be warned that some very young children may be a bit scared by some films.
Some of Drayton Manor’s rides can be enjoyed by guests of any age group:
- Splash Canyon – Drayton Manor’s river rapids ride is not on the same scale as the Congo River Rapids at nearby Alton Towers, but is still offers the same basic thrill: not knowing whether or not you’ll get wet. The random element, combined with a pleasant course, makes this a real family favourite.
- Ben 10: Ultimate Mission – aimed at guests who are too old for Thomas Land and too young for Drayton Manor’s biggest thrill rides, Ben 10: Ultimate Mission is a roller coaster that offers a happy middle ground. However, its fun queue area and exciting-but-short course are worth a look for all guests – just make sure to ride early or late to avoid a lengthy queue.
- Drayton Manor Zoo – while it’s relatively small in scale, Drayton Manor’s zoo is still well worth exploring. There are a variety of big cats on show (including tigers, leopards and lynx), along with a number of primates, birds, small mammals and penguins.
- Pirate Adventure – while it’s hardly Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean, Drayton Manor’s own pirate-themed boat ride is a fun distraction and includes better theming than many give it credit for. The indoor location is welcome on hot and rainy days, and it’s reasonably high capacity means that queues are not too painful.
What are your favourites?
Let us know what your favourite rides and attractions at Drayton Manor are by adding your own ratings and reviews.