WHO: Laura (Mom), Ian (Dad), Everett (7) & Ames (3)
WHAT: Day Out With Thomas: Big Adventures Tour
WHEN: Remaining dates: Saturday, Sept. 8 & Sunday, Sept. 9
WHERE: Tennessee Central Railway Museum, 220 Willow St., Nashville
INFO: 615-244-9001 | tcry.org
It was a beautiful day on the Island of Sodor … better known as The Tennessee Railway Museum in our neck of the woods. My little guy, Ames, is obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine, so my husband and I jumped at the chance to take him and his older brother, Everett, to Day Out with Thomas!
A WARM WELCOME
After easily finding a parking spot on the road in front of the Museum, we walked up to the gates and were warmly welcomed to Sodor. The kids were given authentic-looking Thomas passports, which make great souvenirs. In addition to being cute, the passports are used to collect stamps at activity stations (pro tip: when children collect all four stamps they are given a small prize as they leave the museum).
FREE ACTIVITIES GALORE
Our crew opted for an early visit to avoid the afternoon heat. We arrived about an hour before our train ride. The kids did not mind the wait as they explored the different activity areas. There is no extra charge for any of the activities aside from food and beverage purchases or photo packages.
Everett enjoyed the bounce houses and inflatable slide, small mini-golf set-up and the iPads in the Storytelling Area. As a 7-year-old, he seemed to be at the upper end of the intended audience for this event. Ames, who is 3-years-old, loved riding on the small train ride with his brother. He was smitten with Imagination Station, which is a large tent full of train tables. Imagination Station is a great place for your little ones to practice their sharing skills, if you know what I mean!
Other activities include the following: a temporary tattoo station; a storytelling station complete with a flat-screen TV playing Thomas movies on repeat; magic shows; Farmer McCall’s petting zoo; and a water misting tent for beating the summer heat.
The kids also have the opportunity to meet and take a photograph with Sir Topham Hatt himself (but beware of strict appearance times and hop in line early if you can). Many activities are located under large tents so you can take a break from the sun or rain and most had relatively short lines during the morning hours. You are welcome to enjoy the extra activities before and after your ride.
THE TRAIN RIDE
For us, the train ride itself was worth the trip. There is a special magic to a train ride. It felt as though we were going back in time. The ride is a quick 25 minutes round trip, but this works well for little ones with short attention spans. Conveniently, there is stroller parking outside the train and attendants to assist boarding passengers.
Accommodations are available upon request for those with mobility limitations. The only complaint from my boys was that they thought the train was too slow. Following the ride, passengers walk to the front of the train to see the cheeky blue engine in all his glory.
As you can imagine, waiting to see and take photos with Thomas was definitely the longest line we experienced during our visit. Photographs may be purchased with Thomas, but you are also able to snap your own.
GIFT SHOP EXIT
When you leave the event, you exit through the Tennessee Railway Museum, which has been turned into an epic Thomas-themed gift shop. I had prepared the boys in advance for this to avoid a last-minute meltdown, although I must admit we left with a $10 Thomas balloon!
In the Museum you also have the opportunity to catch a glimpse of some of the amazing railway sets. We had a great time, and my mama heart loved seeing the excitement on my boys’ faces. You know your Thomas-loving child has had a great day when he exclaims his “boiler is bubbling!” If your child loves Thomas, trains or “things that go," pack your sunscreen and grab your tickets to ride!
IF YOU GO
ADMISSION $20 per person
HOURS Gates open at 8 a.m. First train ride is at 9 a.m. Train rides occur on the hour. Last ride of the day is at 4 p.m.
PARKING Parking is free. There is clear signage and people directing cars.
FOOD/BEVERAGE Chicken sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, snack items (like popcorn and chips) available for purchase. Kona Ice Truck sells shaved ice and Nanny's Lemonade sells lemonade.
RESTROOMS Portable toilets available at entrance and exit to train boarding locations. Baby changing station is located at train exit.