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  1. Hi guys. Today was a rather exciting day; my first visit to Drayton Manor in 4 years, and my first ever solo train trip to a theme park! I was keen to do this after noticing that my university train route (Lydney-Cheltenham Spa) had trains running directly to Drayton Manor’s nearest station, and I’m so glad I did it! It was one heck of a day, so let me kick off right from the beginning! Today started quite early, with a 7:24am train from Lydney, my local train station, to Wilnecote, the nearest train station to Drayton Manor. This took around 1h 40m, and all went well. Interestingly enough, this was my first ever time travelling north of Birmingham New Street on the train (albeit only slightly north of it): After getting off the train, I did a roughly 40 minute walk to the park, and got there at around 9:45am. The walk was very easy, and left plenty of time before opening: After a brief 45 minute wait, I was admitted into the park, and I headed to my first ride. I initially pondered doing the new Vikings area first, but I ultimately found myself stumbling onto… Apocalypse Apocalypse was on a practically walk-on queue (only a group of 4 were in front of me), so I thought it would be rude not to give it a go! One of the things bringing me to Drayton in 2022 was this ride’s final year, and sadly, I think you can tell that the ride is coming to the end of its life. Of the 5 towers, only 1 sit-down tower was operating (the others looked like they were completely broken and hadn’t operated in some time), and the queue never got above 1 cycle or so all day; the ride was often waiting for the tower to fill. Putting all this aside, though; how was the ride? Well, as much as I’ve never entirely gotten the enthusiast hype around Apocalypse, I’ve got to say that it was awesome; the drop was really good and punchy, and on the whole, it was a real rush, and a great way to start the day! Most interestingly of all, no one joined the queue after me, so I rode Apocalypse completely on my own; I was legitimately the only one in the entire ride area, which was quite surreal: After Apocalypse, I headed to my first coaster of the day… Accelerator Accelerator was right there next to Apocalypse and appeared pretty empty, so I decided to give it a go. I waltzed straight onto this, and the host gave me free rein on where I wanted to sit; I headed for the back row. So, how was the ride? Well, I’ve got to say that it was a fun little coaster, and more enjoyable than I’d remembered! It was very smooth, packed a solid pace, and overall, it was just a good, fun ride! I’m not the biggest fan of shuttle coasters, but this was perfectly good fun: After Accelerator, I decided to head into the new for 2022 Vikings area to ride… Jormungandr Jormungandr was nearby and looked quiet, so I decided to give it a go. Yet again, I waltzed straight onto this; my Drayton Manor day was going very well so far, as I’d only been riding for 10-15 minutes and was already on my 3rd ride! I’ve got to say, I think they did a nice job with the Viking overlay of this ride; it looks much nicer than it did as the Buffalo, the music is really nice, and I really like the new train design! So, how was the ride? Well, I was seated in row 7, it was a perfectly fine little powered coaster; it does the job for what it is! There were some sections where it actually picked up some decent speed, although it did seem as though it was struggling somewhat in others; it felt like it was nearly going to stall up some of the inclines. Nonetheless, Jormungandr was a nice enough ride for what it was: After my ride on Jormungandr, I headed to my first of the new for 2022 rides… Loki Loki looked pretty quiet, so I decided to give it a go. This ride was where the advantages of being a single rider began to present themselves; I was admitted straight on, as there was a seat going spare! So, how was the ride? Well, I was intrigued to try it, as I’ve never done a Zamperla Nebulaz before, but I’m not sure I was the biggest fan, in all honesty. It is a really cool visual piece, what with all the arms interacting with each other, but it was quite spinny; some people might like that, but I have quite a weak stomach for flat rides, so while it wasn’t the most nauseating flat ride I’ve done by any means, it did make me feel a bit odd. Nevertheless, it was nice to experience such a unique ride type for the first time, and I can see the appeal of it; it's quite the visual spectacle, and good if you like spinning: After Loki, I did the other new flat ride in the area… Thor Thor was walk-on, so I decided to give it a try. I’d never ridden a Zamperla Disk’O before, so I was interested to see how it rode, although I’ll digress that my aforementioned low spin tolerance did make me apprehensive as to whether I’d enjoy it. So, how was the ride? Well, I’ve got to say that in spite of my apprehension, it wasn’t as bad as expected intensity-wise, and was actually quite enjoyable! I still wouldn’t have said it was one of my favourite rides, but it was enjoyable, and well within my low spin tolerance; certainly not as bad as it looks, for my money: After Thor, I left Vikings and headed over to the other side of the park to ride… Shockwave Shockwave was the only non-kiddie coaster I hadn’t ridden at Drayton Manor at this point in the day, so I was keen to give it a go. I was interested to retry it, as I’d remembered quite liking it in 2018; I remember thinking that the standup riding position, while a bit weird, wasn’t as abhorrent as many make out, and the ride had some good elements and was fairly smooth. So, how was it? Well… I’m afraid I didn’t like it as much as I’d remembered. It wasn’t the standup riding position that caused me issue, though; I maintain that the position, while a bit weird, isn‘t abhorrent by any means. What my issue was was that it was a fair bit rougher than I’d remembered in 2018; the bottom of the first drop had an unpleasant jolt, and there was some horrid ear bashing in a few sections. Also; since when has the brake run been so harsh? I remembered it being a bit abrupt, but it’s so sudden that it always threw me forwards and really did my shoulders in. With that being said, I do like some of the elements on there; the zero-g roll in particular is a phenomenal inversion: After Shockwave, I decided to stay in Adventure Cove and do a flat ride… Maelstrom Maelstrom was walk on, so I decided to give it a go. I didn’t do Maelstrom on my first visit, so it was a completely new ride to me, and it seems well liked, so I was intrigued to try it, in spite of the fact that I didn’t overly enjoy Cyclonator, the first gyroswing I did at Paultons Park last year. So, how was it? Well, I’m afraid to say that like Cyclonator, it wasn’t really for me, so I think gyroswings in general are just a bit of a controversial dislike of mine. I do think I preferred Maelstrom to Cyclonator, though, as the restraints were more comfortable and it didn’t seem quite as intense spin-wise. It did still make me feel a bit strange, though, with the strong focus on intensity and spinning not being the best for my personal spin tolerance, and there seemed to be some rather uncomfortable doses of positive g’s in the troughs of each swing. I’m sorry to be a downer, but I think this style of ride isn’t really for me: After Maelstrom, I decided to try the other flat ride in Adventure Cove… Air Race Air Race was on a short queue, so I decided to give it a try. I was interested to try it again; I’d remembered it being absolutely vile in 2018, but I’ve done a lot more rides since then, and I wondered whether I might have built up a greater intensity tolerance over time. So did I enjoy Air Race more this time? Sadly not. Unfortunately, I found it equally vile in 2022 as I did in 2018; I could literally feel stuff moving around in my stomach with each slow flip (a proper churning feeling), and I came off it feeling horribly nauseous. I get why people enjoy it, as it is an intense ride, but it’s not really for me, I’m afraid: After Air Race, I needed a sit down, so I sat and had my lunch (it was getting to 12:15pm anyway), timing the throughput of Shockwave as I ate (I had a very good vantage point!). Once I’d eaten, I decided to go for something different, and perhaps unexpected given today’s not exactly hot weather… Stormforce 10 Stormforce 10 didn’t appear busy, and I’d never done it before, so I decided to give it a go. I’ve got to say, this is a very nicely themed ride; I walked through it too quickly to get any real look at it due to the low crowds, but the queue appeared to be incredibly detailed, and really well themed! The station appeared well themed as well! So, how was the ride? Well, I’ve got to say that it was a really good water ride, although perhaps a mistake given the weather and how wet I got! One of the drops was a surprising soaker; the first and third drops (the forward ones) weren’t too bad (a decent spray, but nothing overly wet), but the second backwards drop got me pretty drenched, which was completely unexpected! Another interesting thing about my ride on Stormforce 10 was that it was my second lone ride of the day; I was seated in row 2 (the ride staff expected me to sit in the middle of the row as well, for some reason), and I went round Stormforce 10 completely on my lonesome! Overall, though, I did think it was quite an impressive water ride; in all honesty, I’d say it’s probably my top UK water ride that’s still operating (I always loved Logger’s Leap), or at very least up there with the best: After my ride on Stormforce 10, I took another ride on Shockwave to dry off. I was seated in row 5, and it was similar to earlier. After that, I rerode Accelerator. I rode in the front this time, and it was great fun, just as it had been earlier: I then took another quiet ride on Apocalypse. I was not alone this time, however; I was accompanied by a group of Year 6 boys, one of whom asked me to hold his hand on the way up, which I did. In terms of the ride itself; it was as awesome and punchy as ever: I then tried to ride The Haunting; I waited outside for about 10-15 minutes, but everyone was then ushered away due to the ride experiencing a technical issue. With that in mind, I decided to try the other dark ride right next to it… Sheriff Showdown Sheriff Showdown was completely empty, right next door to The Haunting and a ride I’d never done before, so I decided to give it a go. Interestingly, this ended up being another lone ride; with there being noone in the area other than me and the operator,So, how was it? Well, I thought it was a good, fun interactive dark ride! There were some nice animatronics, some great sets, and I actually found the game element quite a bit easier to interact with than on other interactive dark rides I’ve ridden; my score was 5,800, which I was pretty impressed with given my shocking aim and the short ride duration! All in all, Sheriff Showdown was definitely a fun little ride: I then had a reride on Jormungandr. I was seated in a similar seat to last time, and the ride was very similar to earlier: I then headed back over to… The Haunting The Haunting had reopened, so I decided to join the small crowd waiting outside. After a few minutes, we were admitted to the attraction; one interesting thing I noticed is that it’s batched differently to other Madhouses I’ve done. It wasn’t like Hex or something, where one group can occupy each room; only one group was allowed to be in the whole attraction on The Haunting. It wasn’t an issue by any means, what with the low crowd levels, but it was just an interesting observation I made. So, how was it? Well, I’ve got to say that I was very impressed! The story of a paranormal investigation is told very well and very clearly, and it is genuinely quite unnerving at points; this is going to make me sound like a right baby, but as someone who doesn’t overly like horror, it was toeing the line of my scare tolerance at times. I did find bits of it quite scary, and it definitely vindicated my belief that I wouldn’t like an attraction that goes beyond that level of scare, such as a scare attraction; a scare attraction is a vastly intensified version of that, so god knows how I’d react to that type of thing with actual people! Overall, though, I thought that The Haunting was a very well done madhouse; it impressed me, for sure, and of the 4 I’ve done, I’d genuinely be inclined to say it’s my 2nd favourite behind only Hex: After The Haunting, I had another great ride on Apocalypse: That was swiftly followed by another great, and practically walk-on, ride on Accelerator; I was seated in row 7 this time, and it was great fun! An interesting thing that happened on this ride was that in the queue, I met a potential enthusiast in the making; I was tapped on the shoulder by a young boy who enthusiastically said to me “excuse me, but I just wanted to tell you that the back provides the best experience on this ride!”. I told him that I’d enjoyed the back earlier, and he seemed very impressed and in agreement with me. He then boarded the back in my train, and when we got off, he said “That was awesome! I’ve done it 15 times!”. That might seem small, but that’s how theme park enthusiasm often starts!: After that, I headed to a ride I’d never done before… The Bounty The Bounty was walk-on, so I decided to give it a whirl. I hadn't done a pirate ship in a while, but I always used to enjoy The Blade at Alton Towers, so I was looking forward to The Bounty. So, how was it? Well, it was a fun enough pirate ship; it had some good swinging, some decent tickles of weightlessness, and overall, it was a fun ride: After The Bounty, I decided to have another ride on Shockwave. I bagged the back row this time, and it was quite similar to the other rides, although it possibly seemed at its roughest yet on the back. That zero-g roll still packs a great punch, though: After my reride on Shockwave, I, possibly against my better judgement after the soaking from Stormforce 10, decided to try another water ride... Adventure Cove River Rapids Adventure Cove River Rapids looked quiet, so I decided to give it a go. It opened after my last visit, and I'd heard some rave reviews (a lot of cries of "best rapids ride in the UK!" get thrown around), so I was interested to ride it. Interestingly, I was not allowed to ride as a single rider, so I had to wait for another group to join me. This didn't take too long, and I was quickly off on the ride with a mother and her young son. So, what did I think? Well, I'm afraid to say that perhaps controversially, I was somewhat uninspired by this rapids. I'll grant them, the Adventure Cove buildings are painted very nicely, and it is quite nicely themed, but it's the only rapids I've ever walked off of bone dry. Even the likes of Congo River Rapids and Rumba Rapids, in the UK, get you with a couple of waves splashing into the boat and a little light spray, but Adventure Cove River Rapids gave me nothing; there didn't even seem to be any water splashing into the boat (if there was any, it was perhaps one tiny splash). Granted, I was somewhat glad to remain dry on this occasion, but I would have rated it higher had there been a couple of waves that came into the boat and did splash the riders somewhat. In fairness, though, I could have just gotten it on a weak ride, or Drayton might not have wanted it to be a wet rapids, so it's probably unfair of me to judge too harshly: After Adventure Cove River Rapids, I had a reride on Jormungandr. I was seated in the second row from the back, and it was perfectly good fun: After Jormungandr, I had another ride on Apocalypse, which was once again awesome; I like drop towers a lot, and Apocalypse is a very good one: After that, I had another fun ride on Accelerator. I was seated in row 8 this time, and it was great fun: I then had another ride on Shockwave. I was seated in row 4, and it was very similar to my earlier rides; the brake run seemed to hit particularly hard on this ride, for some reason: After that, I bought a cup of Diet Coke, and sat down for a few minutes to drink that. I then did another new ride... Drunken Barrels Drunken Barrels was a ride I'd never done before, so I was interested to try it. I knew that this was a unique style of tea cups, so I thought it might be worth a try. So, how was the ride? Well, I thought it was quite good fun; the tilting platform added a very interesting dimension to the teacups ride experience: After Drunken Barrels, I had yet another great ride on Apocalypse: I swiftly followed that up with another fun ride on Accelerator, in row 8: I then had another ride on Apocalypse: That was swiftly followed by a ride close to the front on Jormungandr: I then closed out the day with a final ride on Apocalypse: After that, the 4:30pm ride close had arrived. I went to the Walhalla food outlet to buy a Crunchie Blast ice lolly before heading out of the park and back on my way to Wilnecote station. I then closed out my day with a 1h 7m train ride home, from Wilnecote to Cheltenham Spa; I had to get picked up from Cheltenham due to the train to Lydney being cancelled: So, that was my day at Drayton Manor! I had a brilliant day; I was very glad to have completed a park visit on my own via public transport, and the park itself was a pleasant surprise too! I was expecting the park to be busy when I saw a plethora of school trip groups arriving, but my fears were unfounded, as the park was phenomenally quiet; nothing had more than a 1 cycle wait all day, and I got a surprising number of lone rides! If you weren't keeping track, and wondering whether all this riding had seen me break my personal ride count record (which previously sat at 21, obtained on my last day at Europa Park); my personal ride count record was not only broken, it was well and truly thrashed to death! If you weren't keeping track, my rides today were: Apocalypse x7 Accelerator x5 Shockwave x4 Jormungandr x4 Loki x1 Thor x1 Maelstrom x1 Air Race x1 Stormforce 10 x1 Sheriff Showdown x1 The Haunting x1 The Bounty x1 Adventure Cove River Rapids x1 Drunken Barrels x1 That makes for a final ride total of 30 rides in 6 hours! Yes, I managed thirty (!) rides between 10:30am and 4:30pm today! As a result, I did 26,000 steps today, which is my highest Fitbit step count by some margin, and I am somewhat achey, but I had an awesome day; my first UK park visit of 2022 couldn't have gone better! Thank you for reading! I'll be back at you with another trip report very soon, as I'm headed to Alton Towers on 19th/20th June!
  2. Upon arriving at the park, we were both very impressed with the location of the park, all the rides around the lake looked stunning as we were driving to the car park. Excited to see what this park had to offer, we head for the park entrance. The park opens and 09:30 and the rides open at 10:30, we turned up around 09:15 and there were already loads of staff at the ticket booths which was great to see, this meant we could buy our tickets ready to enter the park when it opened. As it happens we were the first to enter the park! we took the first hour to explore the parks zoo which we found to be hit and miss really, you could tell which were the new parts and which were the old. Some of the enclosures were great and some were really dirty and small, but we loved the Tamarin trail! Anyway, we didn't really come here for the animals (although we do love a good zoo!) the park was starting to fill up so around 10:15 we joined the queue for Ben 10 as there was already a hefty queue waiting to enter the queue, we gathered that this ride would probably get the biggest queues due to it's a popularity with the kids. when the queue opened however, we must of only waited around 10 minutes, we skipped most of it as they were looking for groups of two :P. The queue for this ride is very well themed and includes lots of good lighting and objects themed to the kids show. The ride itself is good fun! the restraints are nice making you feel very open and exposed, it's quite fast and intense for a family coaster and it is glass smooth! I'm not a fan of going backwards on coasters but these family vekoma boomerangs are proving popular and I can see why! We both came off smiling 8/10. Next up it was time for the Wild West shootout ride thing, now this ride wasn't very long and it had a very DIY feel about it but we loved it! I'm not quite sure what is was, I just came off loving it, I think it's just more fun than other shooters I have done. it was very interactive like when you hit a can it fell over etc and got to love them bonus'! In my opinion I thought it was a fun little ride and we even did it again later in the day! 6.5/10 Already quite impressed with the park we wondered down to the Buffalo coaster. This coaster could be heard from a distance as this thing is quite noisy, but the trains looked like the had been refurbished recently? and the layout seemed half decent! It was just as I expected really, bit rough and jolty but there are a couple of Helix's and you get some good views of the rest of the park! 6/10 Now we both had quite high expectations of this next ride as it has recently gone through a refurb and some of our friends really rate it highly: it was time for the Haunting. all I knew of this ride is that it was a madhouse so I didn't really know what to expect. The lighting was excellent, the ride had some great effects which weren't scary as such but this attraction is aimed at the whole family so we took that into consideration. the scenes are great in the attraction especially the big hall, I loved this part of the attraction as there is mist, projections, lights and floor movements - it all seemed to work really well! The finale is the ride itself which I felt was good but nothing more really, all I all it is a great attraction but hex is still my favourite madhouse I'm afraid. 8/10 We headed over to the other end of the park to try out the parks rapids 'Splash Canyon', probably my 2nd favourite rapids in the country, not as good as Congo River Rapids at AT but much better than Thorpe's Rumba Rapids! The Queue line for this is a horrible cattle-pen which is a shame, I can imagine it being horrible during a very busy day! and also they didn't seem to have many boats on which didn't help the queue. Apart from that you get some good interaction with Shockwave and there are some good water effects! 7/10 At this point is was gone Midday so we were getting quite hungry but as Shockwave had no queue we thought we would squeeze it in before lunch, There was no queue for the front so we went straight on, unfortunately no Go Pros allowed which was a shame. The restraints on this were not as comfortable as Riddler's Revenge over at SFMM but I understand that this was a Intamin and B&M combo. The ride was surprisingly smooth at the front and I came off instantly thinking that it was my favourite coasters in the UK, the loop is intense, the zero-g was a bit uncomfortable but I enjoyed getting thrown out of my seat. Yes the ride is quite short but it packs a punch. Now on the front row I would put it in my top 5 in the UK but later on in the day I gave it a ride near the back and boy was it rough! Gave me a headache for the rest of the day, but still I find it a good coaster so I rate it a solid 7.5/10 Burger Kitchen was our choice of eatery, food was quite pricey as you can imagine but not too bad. Quality off food was okay, nothing more than standard theme park food. After lunch, we walked around Thomas Land for a bit, the theming in this area is great and has a lovely atmosphere! This area had the longest queues of the park so unfortunately we didn't get to do much which was a shame but we could see why the kids loved it! We took a ride on Toby's tram thing, never seen a flat ride like this before and it was good fun, quite intense for little kids ride. To let our lunch digest we took a ride on the parks Ferris Wheel which seemed the same as Chessington's version, we got some good views of Ben 10 from this. Yogi Bear was now about to start so we thought we would go and give it a try, The film is just small clips of the actual film put together but it was alright I guess, we mainly went in to have a break from the rides but it was okay, not as good as Angry Birds. Next up was the other thrill coaster at the park 'G Force' there was only a 5 minute wait which was a bonus. I Wasn't expecting much from this ride due to the amount of bad reviews it gets but I remained positive, but I was wrong. The restraints have got to be the most painful restraints I have experienced! the lift hill is just horrible, not a fun experience, you are literally just hanging upside down with your body being crushed by your restraint. The coaster section was meh, it was jolty, no speed or flow to the ride and it is very short! Thank god it was a short ride though I don't think my body could endure any more pain! 3/10 Unfortunately Storm Force 10 was closed for the day so we didn't get to ride it oh well more reason to go back next year! As Maelstrom was nearby we decided to give that a go next. Wow! this ride is really intense and is probably one of my favourite flats in the UK! It delivers so much airtime, we loved it! 9/10 Pandemonium and The flying Dutchman were also closed but no biggie, I'm not too keen on flats anyway and Pandemonium didn't interest me. The Flying Dutchman was in pieces and the was a crane on the Pandemonium site so whether they will be removed or just being refurbished I'm not too sure. Anyway we headed to the barrels! The theming on this ride is great, yet so out of place haha! Not complaining though as we loved the German theme and the ride was really fun too! It was time for Apocalypse, now drop towers are the only type of ride where I get nervous due to the height of them and of course, the anticipation of the drop. To date Atmosfear at Liseberg is the tallest drop tower I've done (around 400ft I think) and is probably the scariest ride I've done due to the height! the sit down had a longer queue than stand up so I went straight for the standup, now I would be lying if I told you I wasn't a tad nervous. I had never done a standup drop tower before so this was new to me. At first it was too bad but then it tilted you, you don't tilt that much but you really notice it when all of your body weight is pushing against the retraint, let's just say if that restraint failed you would be a gonner! At the top you are only given a brief moment to appreciate the view and then you drop. The drop is so forceful it's amazing! by far the best drop tower I have done and one of my favourite rides in the country! 10/10 We did a few other small flat rides then we headed for our last ride of the day - Troublesome Trucks! This had the longest queue all day but the cred had to be done, I believe we waiting 30 minutes or something. It is a great little coaster though! the theming is really nice and it has to be one of the best tiny coasters I have done, it's so smooth! Oh yeah, The Bounty has to be the best Pirate Ship I have been on too! To summarise then, Drayton Manor exceeded our expectations and is one of my favourite parks in the UK. The have some really unique rides, including loads of family and kids rides! some of the theming is in need of refurb but the newer rides look great! What this park really needs now is another thrill coaster, hopefully something will be announced in the next few years! Shame about the staff though as rarely did we see a smile - very Grumpy! All in all it's a great park and look forward to returning next year!
  3. Hi again, managed to get Windows 8 to play ball so I can upload my photos from since September Early September me and SCB headed up north to Drayton Manor for my first time. It was a cold, damp day, but we got loads of rides done, including the "humpty bumpty oddity" that is G-Force, and my first standing coaster (Shockwave) that was... Challenging to get into due to being a little bit short :pardon:Eventually developed a technique by the end of the day though and really enjoyed it Also enjoyed Pandemonium and watching SCB on Apocolypse... Yeah I still refuse drop towers. The only slight issue was that it was incredibly quiet and a few of their rides require a certain number of people to run. I ended up waiting about 15 minutes in my seat on Pandemonium... Also didn't go on any of the water rides because it was VERY cold, but I got the gist just by looking so that was enough for me Then in late September we headed down to Adventure Island with Paige for her birthday! I'd never done an amusement park before other than travelling fairs, so loved the fun Some of their in-house creations though were insane! Time Machine for example. Insane. So intense I whited out for most of it... God knows who came up with the idea of it in the first place Absolutely LOVED Dragon Claw. It was amazing, despite the fact that I had to ride it alone (as with most of the spinny rides...). Rage was also great, nifty ride for a park like this. Great fun and a nice little thrill for the older visitors to the park. And yes I got very excited that we were visiting the seaside and insisted on looking for shells on the beach. Even though it is Paige in this photo. And can I just add, the park looks incredible after dark. Anyway, that's this part done, shall be back with my final installment soon!
  4. For the first in about 10 or 11 years, I visited a non-Merlin theme park. It's been a long time coming, and anywhere was a start. And that start was to be Drayton Manor. After such a beautiful week, Saturday decided to take a turn for the worst, and give us rain, thunder, lightning (though with a couple of breaks of sunshine during the day!). Adam picked me up and we arrived at Drayton around 9ish. Even though we were early, we could tell it was gonna be quiet day, and thank goodness, after some of the horror stories I'd heard about the park's operations. We arrived to some sun, though we could tell dark times were ahead. Half 9 came and the park opened. One of the first things which confuse me about the park is opening the park at 9:30, but not the rides until 10:30. There's not really enough to do for a whole hour, other than the small zoo, which we headed to straight away. Tigers are a'coming. A chimpanzee looks to Apocalypse in the distance. Rides were testing so we headed over to G Force (which apparently had been closed for a couple of days) and we were pretty much first in the queue. 10:30 came and it opened; yay. This was my first coaster with inversions that had lap bars, and I'd heard some pretty poor things about it, but kept an open mind. And yeah, I thought it was quite fun. My first ride didn't give me any problems with the restraints, and it was a fun, fast-paced ride. I did get a bit of air time as well, which is nice. It's an odd ride (especially with the "humpety bumpety" lift) and seems to do all the best bits at the beginning, giving a week end, but hey-ho, it's a fun enough ride. My G Force face. Next up was the big, new thing - Air Race. I wasn't quite sure how it'd ride, what with the continual spinning and moving and stuff, but it was actually really good. The rocking start is very good, and then it just keeps spinning, round and round and round. It doesn't get boring, and there's some nice moments where you're left hanging upside down for quite a while. Near the end of the ride, we started spinning in the opposite direction. Would be nice if it did it sooner, just to mix it up a little, but hey ho. On a ride later on in the day, we counted that we went upside 18 times (sorry Smiler! ). Air Race does have a nice entrance feature though. Air Race's queue line is a nice cattlepen - like many of Drayton's queue - and has a TV playing annoying things. Shockwave followed. Have to say, the station and theming in the queue line is quite nice actually. The seats and restraints on this thing though is very, erm, eurgh. Yeah, I'll go with eurgh. They're not comfortable and they just don't feel right. The ride itself has two highlights - a random little dip before going onto the lift, and the zero-g roll (which is actually incredible). The rest is uncomfortable, rattly or boring. There vertical loop was bleurgh, the double corkscrew is verging on painful and then the random straight bits are unimaginative (though, at least they don't try to castrate you). Now I see why so few stand ups have been built... Found in Shockwave's queueline - made me chuckle... Next up was Splash Canyon, the park's rapids. It was barely 11 o'clock, but we were already soaking wet, so water rides wouldn't make much difference. Fun little ride, not that wet really, though the indoor section did take me off guard. Another water ride followed, and this time it was in the famous Stormforce 10. I'd heard a lot of good things about this, so I was excited. Have to say, the queue - which we once again walked through - is nicely themed and works really well. Onto the ride itself. The first drop is nice, and the way it's done was unexpected by me. Then wandering through the random waterfall is cool. The second drop, the backwards one, was a shock. We were sat at the very back, which meant we got the full force of water. For a split second, I thought I was on Tidal Wave I was that wet. Brilliant water ride. Not-so brilliant for when the weather is already chucking it down. Final drop is quite nice too. So yeah, a great water ride all in all, but I'll try to avoid the back next time... A quick spin on Malestrom (nothing really to say about this, just a nice filler really) and drying off in one of the heater things (which was so worth it given how wet we were...), it was time to venture indoors for Pirate Adventure. It's an indoor boat ride which is basically a knock off of Pirates of the Caribbean. Have to say it's alright, though it seemed like a lot of the animatronics were broke. The ending was super anti-climatic too, which was a shame. For the record, this was probably our longest queue of the day at an amazingly long 15 minutes. Goes to show how quiet it was I guess. A go on the dodgems, sponsored by Free Radio, followed, and they were pretty decent. Food followed in the Safari Pizza & Pasta: Very nice indoors restaurant located by the zoo. Indoors there's loads of animal animatronics which move and stuff and it was quite a nice atmosphere in there. (By the way, unlike Merlin's Pizza / Pasta, this isn't all you can eat in case you're wondering. We just had a nice pizza and wedges meal). We headed over to Ben 10: Ultimate Mission, the world's first Vekoma Junior Boomerang. It looked surprisingly tall and quick for a junior coaster, and I have to admit, it was one coaster I was really looking forward to. Again, there was next to no queue, which was great. The majority of the queue is indoors, and is very well themed, with aliens, loads of 'high tech' stuff, noises, lights, etc., and a false corridor which tricked Adam and I. Very, very good. Aliens. First ride gifted us with front row. Being lifted up backwards was a nice sensation, though the stop is very harsh and judders you around a bit. Then you're dropped down and you pick up a lot of speed very quickly, meander around a bit, then up a random wiggle. You hear the laser fire and do backward to the station. It's a short ride of course, but it's great. It has a bit of everything and left both of us happy. No doubt kids love the ride as well. It's certainly Drayton's most complete ride and is fun for everyone. What's even more impressive is how it takes up so little room. Given the lack of queue, we went straight back round to do it again, which is a testament to the ride's quality. Look at that joy. Afterwards, we ventured to what I'll nickname 'dark ride row'. We started off with The Haunting, a Vekoma madhouse. Much like Hex, it has two pre-shows before the ride. The first pre-show is very nicely done, with some TVs giving you an introduction, and one or two nice effects used. The second pre-show isn't as good I found, going on for a bit too long, and that you couldn't always hear what was being said. The actual madhouse itself is good, with a nice ending I thought. So all in all it is a nice ride, but it also showed by just how good Hex is as well. Haunting is great in its own right, but Hex is in a different league. Next door was Golden Nugget - Wild West Shoot Out. As the name suggests, it's a gun-based ride where you shoot things for points. Other than the name and logo, there's no reference to the Golden Nugget cereal. It's a very cheap ride clearly, and to be honest, is quite laughable. It's nice that some things happen when you hit the target though. But still, not a great ride. We ended dark ride row with Drunken Barrels, the tilting teacups. They were good fun, and the plate actually tipped, but our cup was way too stiff to spin. It was now time for the last major ride (in my opinion), Apocalypse. Decided to go in at the deep end and do stand up first (though, unfortunately, the floorless seating wasn't available today). The seats are okay - more comfortable than Shockwave's at least! - and the tilt is a great twist; did get me a little bit. However, the drop itself is okay at best. Just doesn't really get me as much as I'd hoped. Though the suddenness of the drop is a nice touch. Sit down followed straight away, and I think I prefer that seating arrangement due to the added comfort. One thing which disappointed me with this (and a lot of Drayton in general actually) was the lack of audio, apart from the occasional siren. No atmosphere, very little tension and it just felt like the ride could have been so much more intimidating with some sort of background noise. We decided to get some other rides done, including Flying Dutchman - yet another odd Drayton ride - and Buffalo Coaster. Buffalo is quite possibly the weirdest coaster I've done, with an odd layout, monorail-like speeds, yet the occasional okay bit. It goes on forever as well. I feels like it's time should be nearly up, and the space and surrounding area would be great for a family coaster (hi there Mack!). Oh, one laughable thing about Buffalo - on our ride, the train overshot the station, meaning the people in the front row couldn't get out, and had to have another go (I feel for the poor souls). I would do a list of all the things which are more useful than Buffalo, but I think I'd be here for too long... Buffalo with Apocalypse in the background. The Buffalo should look a lot more sad though. We then went to the other side of the park to venture round Thomas Land. Looks nice, and I know that my younger self would have exploded with excitement to be there. Only ride we did round here was Troublesome Trucks Runaway Coaster. For a ride set in Thomas Land, it was actually alright, and the ending on it was a specific highlight. Great ride for the younger market. We saw Percy whilst queueing fro Troublesome Trucks. NEW FOR 2015. Funnily enough, when you're in the park, you don't really recognise the construction going on. When you're outside the park, by the entrance, you see the site, but have no idea what it's for. With basically everything done, it was time for rerides aplenty. Air Race, G Force and Shockwave were all done again, as was Ben 10. After a while, a storm came over, bringing more rain, thunder and lightning, bringing most rides to a close (as an interesting fact, Apocalypse was hit by lightning this past week ). One of the few rides which remained open was Polperro Express Train; a short train ride which goes round part of the park. It gave some nice views of Shockwave, Stormforce 10, G Force and the rapids, and it was a nice break from the rain. Some rides slowly began reopening, so we were able to get a few more rides in (including on the Golden Nugget ride since it was indoors, and just so we could laugh at it's awfulness some more). We ended up riding Ben 10 five times during the day, which I think shows how it is indeed a good ride for the park. The day ended off with a ride on G Force, and it was the only one where I had an uncomfortable experience. However, I still stand by my views that it is a fun ride; just a shame the restraints can cause it to be otherwise. Drayton Manor is a nice park all in all, and given it's a small park, it's done well for itself. But there's a few rides which are very cheap and laughable which need sorting out, I imagine on a busy day it's a bad place to be in (queue board times to some description would be nice for example), and there's some things lacking (audio on all rides for example). I don't want to end on a negative note, as I enjoyed the place and had a fabulous day out, and if you take it for what it is, it is good. I definitely would recommend people trying it out (especially if you have a voucher of some description), there are some good rides there which make it worth going there once. Visiting has given me the extra incentive to try out other parks as well. It's not that I haven't wanted to, but it's more that I've been a been a bit blasé about it all. However, after yesterday's experience, I now have an urge to try parks new and different (and who knows, might even crack Europe next year!) I'll leave with perhaps the best photo of the day; our last ride on Ben 10:
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