It’s Flashback Friday!
In the Easter holidays, I took my Guides and some from the other unit in town to Drayton Manor.
It’s something that came up every term when we asked what they would like to do, and I thought the time was right to do it. Plus I like a theme park too.
Comparing the market
I looked at a few theme park websites and chose Drayton Manor because
- I’d heard the Guides mention it as somewhere they’d like to go
- it wasn’t too far away – about 1.5 hours by coach
- the tickets were a bit cheaper than other parks
- not too many rules about age (some of the others I looked at said that under-12s had to be accompanied by an adult all the time)
- the rides looked about the right level: some scary exciting ones, but gentler ones too
Booking and budgeting
Oh dear, I still hadn’t learned my lesson from the pantomime trip that you should book and budget for a smaller coach and change up if there’s lots of interest. Instead I booked and budgeted for a 50-seater coach and had to change it down because we only had 20 girls coming. That was a perfectly good group size, but it meant the unit funds took a loss from the trip.
I made big apologies to my unit leader. Luckily we’re ok for funds and she’s a generous woman who knows we all make mistakes (and hopefully learn from them).
Drayton Manor were great with our ticket booking, I’d really recommend them. I phoned them to give a provisional number about 6 weeks before the trip, and they said fine, I could pay a day or two before. I phoned the day before to give them final numbers, and they said fine, I could pay when I got there. So if anyone had been unable to come at the last minute we wouldn’t have needed to pay for them.
It was really easy to get in, too: I queued and paid at the ticket booth while the others waited at the side, then a member of staff let us in through a side gate. I guess 24 people is a drop in the ocean to them.
A grand day out
We set up a base for everyone’s bags, the first aid kit etc on a picnic table, then sent the girls off in groups, asking them to report back in a time slot (eg between 11:00 and 11:30, so that if it got to 11:00 and they were queuing for a ride, they could go on it and then report back).
Most of the girls have been on trips with us before, so they know how it works. We had a couple of cases of groups getting separated by accident, but generally they were very good.
There were 4 of us leaders, including a new Rainbow leader who I was glad I invited – I think she had a good day with us and it wasn’t something she could do with Rainbows! We took turns to stay at the base while the others went on rides. I went on a couple of scary ones with the leaders, a really scary plummetty one with Guides (I definitely screamed more than them), and a couple of gentle ones with Guides.
Drayton Manor was the perfect size for a trip like this. It’s compact (you can walk from end to end in 10 minutes), not huge and sprawling like, say, Thorpe Park. As I said, there’s a good mix of different types of rides, so something for everyone.
As with all these places in the school holidays, the queues for the really big rides were really long, but I guess that was an exercise for the Guides in weighing up whether they were worth the wait, or whether to do something less exciting but with a shorter queues – working out how to use their time and abilities wisely! It was a bit disappointing that the log flume was closed for the day, but there were plenty of other things to do.
The younger Guides loved the fairground stalls. Every time I came back to our base, there were more huge cuddly toys sitting there. The parent’s faces were priceless when they saw their girls getting off the coach carrying giant minions and pink fluffy things.
I had a thoroughly good day out, and I hope the girls did too. Definitely a trip I’d do again, to the same park or somewhere else.