Is your child obsessed with Thomas and Friends? Can they name all of the engines by memory? Do they like trains? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then this is the event for you! “A Day Out With Thomas” is launching it’s annual exhibit at railways across the country. My youngest son went through a Thomas and Friends phase where nothing else mattered in the world except the engines, Topham Hatt, and the entire island of Sodor. So when we heard about the “A Day Out With Thomas” exhibit at our local Illinois Railway Museum we knew we hit the jackpot and could not pass up this adventure! And it did not disappoint. I had never seen a crowd of kids in pure awe, jumping up and down, calling out “Thomas, Thomas, Thomas” in unison! Some of them looked like they would faint from their excitement. It was like going to a Michael Jackson concert for toddlers!
General Admission. “A Day Out With Thomas” visitors receive one ride upon the Thomas the Tank Engine train. In addition, visitors can access unlimited streetcar rides, the railway museum, magic shows, music, entertainment and other fun activities for children of all ages.
Ride on Thomas the Tank Engine. This is by far the most popular activity! Passengers board the old, historical train and you can experience how it felt to ride so long ago. As the train pulls from the station the children waive goodbye to the onlookers below and a conductor dressed as Sir Topham Hatt comes through to greet all of the families. The children jump up and down in their seats as their excited faces experience their dream come true! The trip itself is about 30 minutes and you enjoy a comfortable ride a few miles away from the park. The scenery is beautiful!
Experience Percy too. For an additional fee, you can purchase a ticket to ride on Percy (that’s the #6 engine for my fellow Thomas and Friends super fans). This ride is very similar to the Thomas ride, but it is on a different track and goes in another direction. Also complete with a conductor and scenic view, this train ride is worth the extra bucks you spend. If you have time and extra cash, I recommend both train rides!
Climb aboard old trains. The railway grounds have rows and rows of old train engines as a part of their museum. Visitors can climb the engines and children can pretend to be engineers. Some trains have cars that have been turned into museums on the inside to show how they once looked so long ago. They are complete with walk-through exhibits and information about the train yard’s history.
Mom-approved accommodations. There are several restaurants, ice cream parlors, popcorn stands, and theme-park treats to satisfy your entire family. There are many places to rest and picnic for those that bring their own food. My favorite accommodation was a nursing stations for moms! They reached Gold-Star status with this gem 🙂 What a way to make moms feel welcome!
To make the most of your outing, here are some tips:
Dress to the nines! Just kidding. But seriously, if your children have Thomas paraphernalia, let them wear it! Many of the kids are dressed from head to toe in Thomas apparel. If not, you may be forced to hit the gift shops early and do a quick costume change! j/k
Buy tickets early and online. Usually there are a limited number of tickets available online. Purchasing in advance is ideal because you can breeze right through the entrance without waiting in the admissions line. Once online tickets are exhausted, you must purchase entry tickets at the railway.
Arrive early. When you enter the park, you will choose tickets to the Thomas the Tank Engine ride based on availability. The next available ticket may be 2 hours away, so an early arrival is ideal. As the day goes on, the train departure slots fill up. The earlier you arrive, the more train departure options you will have.
Bring your stroller or wagon. If you have small children, pack that single, double, or triple stroller! Unless you purchase a ticket online in advance, the entrance line wait may be up to 30 minutes. If your kids are anything like mine, you’ll hear “my feet hurt” before you even enter the park! Plus, as you walk the railway grounds you may pick up odds and ends along the way, i.e. Thomas memorabilia, gifts, snacks, etc. Also, strollers are a good place for little ones to nap after spending a few hours walking around.
Consider bringing your own food. There are food vendors on the premises, but bring your own food if you are looking to save an extra few bucks (or a lot of bucks if you have a large family.) The grounds have picnic tables for families and plenty of open areas to relax.
Enter the gift shop at your own risk! If you don’t want to purchase any Thomas and Friends memorabilia, do not go in the gift shop! I repeat, DO NOT GO IN THERE! You will leave with tons of stuff you probably don’t need and your kids will be doing the universal “oooh,” “ahhh,” and “can I have, can I have….” Don’t get me wrong. The items are fantastic but bring extra cash and don’t say I didn’t warn you in advance!
“A Day Out With Thomas” travels across the country between March and October and may be coming to a railway near you! To find out when it’s coming to your area, check out their calendar.
If you have enjoyed “A Day Out With Thomas” no the past, or are looking to visit this year, share this blog!