My son fell in love with Thomas the Tank Engine as a toddler 14 years ago. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to take him to see and ride Thomas at that time. My daughter was 6 years older than my son, and not interested, but went along.

As a grammy to my daughter’s children 14 years later, I was so excited to find that Thomas was making a return visit just in time to take my grandson on that same adventure. I was even more delighted to be able to go with her and her family on this trip.

Seeing my grandson, Colton’s face as he made discoveries throughout the day was such a gift to me. It brought memories of my son as a toddler back for a few moments, reminding me how fleeting childhood magic and mystery is. My son (17 next month) also went with us and seeing him as a young man helping his nephew navigate adventures with Thomas made my heart so happy today.2016-06-02 22.31.38

Time flies, catch as many  joyous moments as you can with your children and grandchildren. I blinked and we were back there again, this time my son was 17 riding on Thomas the train and I was a grandma of two!

What to expect when you go on a Thomas Train Ride: Train stations are antiquated and often remote.

  • You may need to pay for parking $5 – $10, cash only.
  • There may be sidewalks or you may be in gravel, grass or mud. Wear shoes that can handle any terrain. We experienced a combination of dirt, grass, gravel, pavement, stairs, ramps, curbs, etc.
  • You may find “free parking” but will need to load your children and gear onto a school bus or church bus, plan for extra time to get to the station.
  • Facilities are minimal for restrooms and hand-washing. Portable  restrooms and hand rinsing stations are provided.
  • A small, separate area for changing a child may be available, but likely is not private or has limited creature comforts.
  • Food trucks and vendors are available. Water was provided at no charge in a central location, but do not expect water fountains or vending machines.
  • Most vendors took debit or credit cards, but cash is important to have for extras: balloons, animal food at petting stations, parking or vending machines.
  • Some shaded area and picnic tables for dining may be available, but not guaranteed. At peak hour, a table is difficult to find, a shaded table is almost impossible to find.
  • Entertainment and interactive play stations are through out the venue, but will differ by location. There will be 7 t0 10 children per play table/train at the play areas. Temporary tattoos, coloring, stamps and Lego tables were all in the play area both times we have gone.
  • Lines will be long, shade will be limited – wear sunscreen and take an umbrella, sunglasses, hat or cool neck wrap.
  • Animal petting area my be part of your adventure – feeding the animals is how you get to interact with them. Bring hand sanitizer, and wet wipes!
  • Give yourself an extra 45 minutes for unexpected, child related emergencies that happen when you travel. If your train ride departs at 9:00 a.m. – set your goal to be there at 7 a.m. This gives you time to be familiar with the layout of the station and what resources you have available to you.
  • First aid was on hand and staff was plentiful.
  • We were able to get assistance everywhere we went – staff wore easy to identify shirts and badges and were happy and helpful.
  • When you leave you will exit through a retail environment, a tent of Thomas temptation. If you do not plan to buy an item at the end of your visit, plant that seed early on and be prepared to be bombarded by Thomas memorabilia and toys as you exit. We have never regretted a Thomas toy purchase, but not everyone feels the same.
  • Enjoy the ones you are with. Be patient with them, with staff, strangers and respect the safety rules.

I hope you enjoy your adventure! May it not be your last.