This year as we walked into the Florida Railroad Museum to ride on Thomas the Train, we attended for the first time as a family of 5. In fact, there were a lot of ways in which Day Out with Thomas: Big Adventures Tour was different for us. I guess you could say it was our own big adventure.
All week, meteorologists had predicted rain for the Sunday of our Day Out with Thomas. The day before, the chance of rain changed to 20%. The morning of, it was back up to 80%. By the time we arrived at the Florida Railroad Museum in Parrish, FL, the chance of rain was back down to 20% for the day. I’m very happy to say we didn’t see a drop of rain all day.
In fact, the weather couldn’t have been more perfect. Years past have been dusty, dry, and HOT. This morning started off downright cool. It did warm up as the sun rose higher, but we stayed comfortable.
We have attended Day Out with Thomas every year for the past 6 years. Every year, it gets a little bit bigger. Last year, the Florida Railroad Museum had started clearing trees to open up the grounds and move more of the attractions into the treeline and the shade. There was one bounce house still in direct sunlight that was briefly shut down because the plastic had gotten too hot. Once they hosed it down and dried it off, it was back open for business. Aside from the food vendors, Sir Topham Hat, and Thomas himself, everything else was in the shade.
This was the first year we had decided to start our day with a ride on Thomas. Normally, we arrive right after lunch, play for a few hours, ride on Thomas, and head home. This year, our ride was scheduled for 11am. I think our original plan was to stay for a few hours after our ride and leave early. You would think we’d know better. My kids don’t leave early when playing is involved, especially if bounce houses are part of the equation.
Our day flew by. I’m assuming the rain had scared off quite a few people because the grounds were not very crowded even though our train car was certainly full. Our “Car Host” Shane kept the ride rather interesting. He started out by telling all of the kids it was their responsibility to keep an eye on their parents, then proceeded to prove himself the biggest kid of them all. He photobombed quite of few family photos. At one point, my adorable children decided to have a “farting” contest by making farting sounds on their arms. Naturally, Shane joined them.
As always, we enjoyed a scenic train ride through rural Florida, while my son and husband contemplated the possibilities of riding trains cross country. Considering how bored my son claimed to be on our last road trip north, I think we’ll hold off on any long distance train rides for now.
At the end of the ride on Thomas, the kids received their Conductor certificates, and we headed down for a photo with Thomas. The train rides seem to be scheduled further apart now than in years past, which leaves more time for photos. Since this is usually a long line, it’s a welcome change. Thankfully, the line was fairly reasonable this year, and we got through it quickly. It’s always a challenge getting three kids to look at the camera, but the photographers were patient.
Naturally, our next stop was the play area. They had set up train tables, coloring pages, sand tables, Mega Bloks, and a host of other toys for the kids to enjoy some imaginative play. We spent a little time on the train tables, but it’s difficult to spend a lot of time playing there. It’s where all of the kids want to be and everyone wants to play with Thomas. There simply aren’t enough tables or trains to go around. We spent maybe half an hour playing with the trains, then I had my kids pass theirs on to other kids waiting to play. I am very thankful that my kids were agreeable and happily moved on to play with something else. Some parents weren’t so fortunate.
My oldest is very into Legos right now, so he was more than happy to
hoard build with the blocks. He was quite proud of his castle and disappointed later to walk by and find it had been dismantled. That’s life, kid.
Other activities during our Day Out with Thomas included face painting, temporary tattoos, a petting zoo, bounce houses, and a hay ride. The petting zoo was a new attraction this year. I normally avoid them for bio-security reasons, but my kids were begging to feed the animals. Funny how they don’t beg to feed our animals, but I guess that’s not the point. Or I should just start charging them $1 a cup to hand feed ours…hmm… Regardless, they did have a couple of llamas who weren’t complete jerks, so that was cool. And I made sure everyone washed their hands afterwards. I still need to treat the shoes we wore.
There were also musical and magic acts performing on stage through the day. We stopped by for the music show and my kids had a lot of fun dancing and singing. I really wanted to catch the magic act, but it seemed like we kept missing him. I’m really amazed how quickly the day flew by.
As a mom with a nursing baby and two in diapers, we made our share of stops to the Baby Changing/Nursing Area. The area they had set up impressed me enough that I felt the need to share with everyone. First of all, this was no small area. It was roughly 10′ x 20′, enough space for two chairs and a long table for changing diapers. The organizers had made the effort to provide trees for a relaxing atmosphere. The tent also faced away from the festivities, so we had a nice, quiet view of the treeline.
As for food, there was a very nice selection to choose from. We opted for Johnsonville sausages wrapped in pretzels and served on a stick (can’t beat meat on a stick). Each one ended up being the equivalent of 1 1/2 sausages, plus you could get whatever toppings you wanted. Mine had nacho cheese, sauerkraut, and bacon. Oh man, was it good.
At the end of the day, we also stopped for dessert. My son had been begging for cotton candy all day, so I decided to wait until we were leaving to let him have that much sugar. My daughter had strawberry ice cream and I had a root float. My husband helped the kids eat theirs.
Throughout the day, the kids also collected stamps on their “passports” from various stops at the event. This year, they even look like passports and unfold to reveal a coloring page for the kids. As we were leaving, we showed our passports to some of the volunteers and the kids received Big Adventures Tours foam balls to take home. My kids love balls and it was nice to have a little souvenir from the day (besides the toys we also bought for the kids). We ended the day exhausted, but happy. Another successful Day Out with Thomas.
If you’d like to take your kids on their own adventure with Thomas the Train, he will be making stops all across the US and Canada this year. Check his schedule. It’s a great opportunity for kids to ride a real train, plus all of the other fun activities that take place through the day.