By Ann Evans

Troublesome Trucks

Troublesome Trucks

 

Drayton Manor Theme Park and Zoo celebrates its 65th season this year. The family owned and run attraction has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1949, when the late George Bryan OBE and his wife Vera arrived with the vision of building a family leisure attraction.

 

It now attracts around one million visitors a year and is home to some of the biggest, scariest and wettest white knuckle rides around, such as Maelstrom, Shockwave and G-Force. It has a 15-acre zoo, a 152 seat 4D cinema and not forgetting Europe’s only Thomas Land™ which has a host of exciting new rides including Captain’s Sea Adventure, Flynn’s Fire & Rescue, Toby’s Tram Express as well as the main attraction, Sodor Airport.

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The 2015 season also broke records by welcoming a record number of guests through the gates. Its annual Fireworks Spectacular weekend welcomed nearly 33,000 visitors over the three days at the end of October 2015. It was the the biggest display the park has seen in 25 years and has since won national recognition at the Access All Areas, Event Production Awards for ‘Best Visual Spectacular’.

 

This spring saw the launch of their new Tamarin Trail and – brand new this summer is the fabulous high ropes attractions, VertiGO!

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With family and friends, aged from 1 year old right up to senior, I went along to Drayton Manor to celebrate five family birthdays and a wedding anniversary. It really proved a brilliant day out regardless of your age. And despite the drizzly weather, it didn’t dampen our fun.

 

Younger members of the family had a magical time in Thomas Land, and there were plenty of rides that the littler ones could go on in the main theme park – we all loved the Buffalo and the rapids. The more adventurous went on Maelstrom and other white knuckle rides – and four of our group were eager to try the parks latest attraction, VertiGO.

Maelstrom in the sky

Maelstrom in the sky

Megan aged 11 was the youngest in our group to try it out but there is also a separate VertiGO Tots where toddlers can have a 20 minute session or ropes and beams within mum’s reach.

 

It does mean paying a few pounds extra to go on VertiGO, but considering you have an allotted time slot and a good 30 minutes to enjoy it, it’s money well spent. You can pre-book, or upgrade on the day.

Shockwave courtesy of Sam Bagnall

Shockwave courtesy of Sam Bagnall

VertiGO is located on the edge of the park, and those not taking part can relax with a cup of tea or an ice cream in the cafe close by and watch their braver friends climbing across the walkways high in the air.

 

Before going on VertiGO, visitors watch a short video on safety and rules of the attraction, they are then put in a safety harness which is attached to the main beams and everything explained. There are always three experienced operators on hand, should anyone need assistance when on the high wires. Sensible shoes are a must, and long hair tied back.

Thomas on turntable

Thomas on turntable

Even staying on the ground, watching the daredevils above was great fun too. There are three levels, so you can start off at a lower level and gradually build up your confidence. There’s also a zip wire where the daredevils can swoop down as many times as they want. The safety harness which is fastened to the beams ensures that even if you do lose your footing, you won’t fall.

 

When the half hour was finally up, my four family members came off beaming big happy smiles! Chris, aged 39 commented, “It’s great! And what is really good is that you’re left to do your own thing.”

 

Jake, celebrating his 18th birthday said: “It’s pretty nerve racking to start with, then when you get your confidence it’s brilliant.”

Drayton Manor Lemur tucking into frozen treat

Drayton Manor Lemur tucking into frozen treat

Wayne, almost 40 said, “That was harder than it looks. I loved it!”

 

And eleven year old Megan summed it up in one word – “Awesome!”

 

William Bryan, Managing Director at Drayton Manor Park, said: “We never like to rest on our laurels and are always looking at ways to improve the Drayton Manor experience and VertiGO is testament to that, as it joins many other improvements we have made to the park over the past couple of years.”

 

Full details of prices for VertiGO and Drayton Manor Theme Park and Zoo are on their website https://www.draytonmanor.co.uk/vertigo or call 0844 472 1950.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Ann Evans

Feature writer and award winning author, Ann Evans has more than 22 books published for children, young adults, reluctant readers and adults. Never content to write one thing at a time, she always has at least half a dozen different writing projects on the go. She worked for 13 years on the Coventry Telegraph as a feature writer and currently writes for a number of different magazines, in print and on-line. Ann is also a writing tutor running classes for adults and doing author school visits throughout the UK. Ann decided to put her years of writing experience together in her book Become A Writer – a step by step guide. Amazon link:http://www.amazon.co.uk/Become-Writer-Step-Guide/dp/1907670246 Blogs:http://annsawriter.blogspot.com