A Day Out with Thomas - Buying Tickets
We visited "A Day Out with Thomas" in Phillipsburg, NJ. I know there is an even bigger Thomas event held in Strasburg, PA, but Phillipsburg was the closest to us. We attended on a Friday in July (you know how I avoid crowds and weekend events whenever I can). Tickets were pricey, but nothing completely unreasonable (it is a train ride with Thomas, after all). Ticket prices vary based on the experience you choose (you can pick the basic Thomas ride or choose a longer ride to the gem mine), but start at about $21 per person (as of the publication date of this entry). You can purchase tickets online or at the ticket office, but I highly recommend purchasing in advance. Check out their website for full details, dates, and ticket costs here. I find their website a little bit difficult to navigate, and I also had trouble finding the website at all through Google, so keep my link handy!
Where is the Delaware River Railroad?
Finding the Delaware River Railroad was easy enough (it seems like we're always on Rt 78!). We had to park off-site and take a shuttle bus to the event site, which I usually dread. But it wasn't too bad. And it was free! The shuttle was cute and looked like a trolley car (although some were school buses), and it also arrived quickly. The driver was friendly and my son enjoyed the ride.
|Plenty of signs point you in the right direction. Literally!|
What Will I See at A Day out with Thomas?
A short walk brought us to what almost looked like a mini street fair. There were vendors set up with food choices, crafts and other goodies. Two bounce houses and hay mazes were also set up for visitors. There was a tent of Thomas souvenirs you could purchase. The whole event was sponsored by MegaBlocks, so there were a few neat displays to see, too. Don't worry, everything is stroller friendly. You might have to park the stroller for the train ride, but the paths are all accessible and there is stroller parking available.
|A Megablocks Thomas!|
What About the Trains?
You'll also say to yourself right away, Where are the real trains? because you certainly can't see them here. You have to follow the signs down the hill and around the corner (another short walk), but once you come down the hill, behold! It's really Thomas!!
|It's Thomas the Train! I see him!|
The gasp from my son at the sight of the real, live Thomas, was worth the trip at that point! Of course, for a small fee, professional photographers will take your picture in front of Thomas for you. We were not allowed to stand in front of Thomas and take our own picture beside his face, though (see the ropes keeping you out?).
Activities at a Day Out with Thomas
In this area there were plenty of things for kids to do while waiting for their train ride (most of which my son wanted nothing to do with, but that's just how he is). There was a small petting zoo, crafts with spin art and stamps, a video viewing area (inside a small tent), shows by jugglers and puppeteers, and picture taking opportunities with Sir Topham Hatt (my son wanted absolutely nothing to do with that!). There is also a place to eat here, but as usual, we skipped that, so I can't tell you much about the food. They do have portable potties for bathroom pit-stops, too!
|It's really Thomas! But who are those guys?|
Inside the Thomas Train
But the thrill of everything is really Thomas himself. My son couldn't wait to take the ride. I must admit it wasn't exactly what I expected. Here's basically what we got: conductors dressed in full fashion helped us board. There are no assigned seats so you just choose your own. We tried to get one near the fans posted on the ceiling (there is no air conditioning and it was very humid when we went, so keep that in mind!). Pretty much every seat has a window and you can even open them, but the train itself was still pretty hot. The train was fairly old inside, but clean, and there were Thomas decorations, signs and balloons hung inside to make it a little cheerier for the little ones (none of which you can see in my photo for some reason). At some point the official conductor comes around to stamp the tickets.
|Inside the Thomas the Train ride. There's the conductor!|
And just to note, the paths and event itself are stroller and wheelchair accessible, but the train ride is not. I'm not sure what they do for our folks who need assistance, so if you have a wheelchair or need to have someone board the train who is in a wheelchair or needs assistance, please call ahead to see how they can help you.
What About the Train Ride Itself?
Then the adventure begins. When the train started moving, I actually chuckled. The kids were all so excited and loud, you couldn't really hear Thomas talking to you over the loudspeaker. There were Thomas tunes playing, too, but we couldn't hear much of those, either, due to the excited squeals of the kids. Keep in mind that you're not actually in Thomas, you're in a passenger car and Thomas is pulling you. Can you see any of that? No, but I guess the kids get it. Thomas is pulling your train car! The ride was pretty short- I can't remember exactly how long (maybe 20 minutes?). It drove us forward, past trees and river, and then it stopped and pulled us backwards to the same spot. A little weird, right?
Is it Worth the Trip?
In any of these situations you have to remind yourself that the ride is not for you. It's for your child. Maybe I wasn't thrilled with the humidity and the short ride, but my son loved it, and I think it's something he'll always remember. He was three at the time. If we waited much longer to do this excursion, I think he might've sadly been "too old." But again, it depends on your child. There are some huge Thomas fans out there who are over age 4, and there were plenty of kids at the event of varying ages. So you have to just know what your child likes.
If you think your child is too old for Thomas but still likes trains, check out some of the other excursions offered by the Delaware Railroad. There are gem mining trips, holiday themed rides, and wine trains for adults. There is even a "Dinosaur Train" ride (based on the TV show) if your child is a fan of that. Check out their website for full details, and let me know how it goes!
And here are my Amazon affiliate picks for cool Thomas items, in case you're interested...