1,500 guests, including celebrities Nell McAndrew, Zane Lowe (Radio 1), Nihal Arthanayake (Radio 1) and Nicole Barber Lane (Hollyoaks), additional VIPs, competition winners, members of the public and the family of the Rev. Wilbert Awdry, author of the original Railway Series books featuring Thomas the Tank Engine, gathered at Thomas Land for the party.
The Fat Controller and the Reverend’s daughters Hilary Fortnam and Veronica Chambers gathered alongside Thomas to open the celebrations. Entertainment was provided by jugglers, balloon modellers, magicians, story tellers and cinema screenings, before the day’s festivities were brought to a close with a firework display.
Rick Glankler, senior vice president, global brand management – Thomas & Friends Division - EMEA, said: “65 years since the Rev. Wilbert Awdry first told his young son Christopher a story about a cheeky little blue engine, Thomas continues to capture hearts and imaginations.
"Today’s event has provided an opportunity for us to celebrate the huge enjoyment Thomas has brought to generations of children from all around the world.”
Colin Bryan, MD of Drayton Manor Theme Park, commented: “It’s an amazing honour for Drayton Manor Theme Park to be the home of Thomas Land and host this special 65th Anniversary Party. ‘Thomas & Friends’ has a magical quality that entertains the young and young at heart, and has done so for over six decades.
“We opened Thomas Land in March 2008 and it quickly became one of our most popular attractions. We plan to develop Thomas Land further by adding a new ride, which is due to open Easter 2011.”
Drayton Manor Theme Park’s Thomas Land attraction will remain open daily until 2nd January 2011 (excluding 24th, 25th, 26th December) as it hosts Drayton’s Magical Christmas. There are Christmas trees, festive decorations, thousands of lights, daily musical performances from the Fat Controller and even snow three times a day.