GOING to Drayton Manor Theme Park was one of the highlights of my school holidays and it has been almost 15 years since my last visit, writes Chris Smith.
But while the price had inevitably gone up and some new rides added, walking around the park near Tamworth in Staffordshire I found myself in what seemed very familiar territory.
This time it was me who had a child in tow so my chances to enjoy the white knuckle rides were limited. But that was OK as I had always remembered Drayton Manor as catering for all ages: from the die-hard thrillseekers to young children, many of whom were making their first visit to a theme park.
And it was in the newest area that the day started. Thomas Land is a replica of the fictional Island of Sodor where the story of cartoon character Thomas the Tank Engine and his many friends is set.
And despite being targeted at children, it was great fun for the accompanying adults, with a couple of rather breath-taking rides that would not have been out of place in the main park.
It was a huge disappointment to see the classic, and aggressive, rollercoaster - the Cobra - had gone as it was the first white-knuckle ride I had ever been on. I remembered it as not being a very comfortable ride so, in an time where health and safety is of prime concern, it was not a surprise that it had been upgraded. And its replacement, G-Force, was much kinder on my older and more delicate body!
There were a few favourites which had survived from my last visit as a teenager, however. There was Shockwave, Europe's only stand up rollercoaster; the Buffalo, a rather tame rollercoaster for a 32-year-old, but great fun for my 10-year-old nephew and the faithful log flume, now known as Stormforce 10, which was again a must - although after the drenching one wonders why!
Drayton Manor is not just about thrilling rides. The former family home of British Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel has a 15-acre zoo, which is home to more than 100 different animal species from around the world, including big cats, monkeys, reptiles and birds of prey.
There are also live entertainment, including shows, concerts and firework displays, held throughout the year.
Onto the thorny issue of what all this will cost, visitors now pay one price to get into the park and go on all the rides.
When I was a regular there was a modest entry fee and then you had to buy a wrist band for unlimited rides, which means it is now a more expensive day out for parents, like my own back then, who are simply there to accompany their children on a day out rather than to enjoy the rides.
Drayton Manor is still well worth a visit though, whether like me you are looking to reminisce on childhood days out or for somewhere to take the kids out in the looming summer holidays.
Opening times, tickets prices, a full programme of other events and how to get there are online at www.draytonmanor.co.uk
A Great Day Out: Piggy backing the popularity of a child phenomenon - visit www.coventryobserver.co.uk/2011/10/11/entertainment-review-18533.html
A Great Day Out: Truly Britain's ultimate caste - visit www.coventryobserver.co.uk/2011/10/11/entertainment-review-18532.html
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