This time last year our son was obsessed with Peppa Pig, this year he’s jumped ship and has a very fond obsession with Thomas the Tank Engine. This change has led to a huge overhaul of toys, swapping everything pink and Peppa to blue and Thomas. He lives and breathes trains lately so when my sister-in-law (almost) sent a link to A Day Out With Thomas, we dug deep and booked the tickets straight away. Which was a tad hasty after we’d just returned from holiday.
The event itself is of course centered around Thomas and his friends. There are train rides all day, play areas, characters we recognise flood the station and it’s a pretty magical experience for kids. Ones that love Thomas.
We arrived half an hour before the event started which meant we saw them still shunting the trains along the line to set everything up. To see these trains in life size form was pretty cool. Our sons eyes popped out of his head as he saw a couple he recognised, they really did look just the same as on tv too.
We all hustle and bustled into the ticket office and I was getting a little worried that we’d miss seeing Thomas while we faffed with the tickets. So when I heard a distant train, I quickly grabbed the kids and ran past the ticket master in anticipation.
Then Thomas arrived. There was a lot of build up before Thomas himself pulled into the station. The Fat Controller announced he was on his way, then we heard a whistle. My sons face was deadly serious, he was staring in the direction of the whistle, waiting for Thomas to arrive. Then we heard chugging. A smile slowly grew across his face and I could have burst with happiness to know how ecstatic he was about to be.
Then there was Thomas, pulling into the station. Backwards. Now, I understand the logistics of why he needed to arrive backwards, because he needed to face in the direction he’d be chugging all day. But it was a little deflating to see him rear-first “here he comes, oh, where’s his face?”. I think I was expecting the dramatic entrance that I saw online, where he arrives through a cloud of smoke causing every three year old in a two mile radius to faint. Even though he arrived backwards, he still made my sons day. That grin that started to grow when he heard Thomas’ chugging was now ear to ear and he had a sparkle in his eye. I can only imagine how amazing that must have been for him to see a real Thomas.
My daughter was pleased to see him too. But Thomas isn’t really her thing yet, and it may never be. She’s just happy to be out, plenty of kids to cuddle, lots of dangerous places to explore and the trains are alright, I guess.
We were one of the first to ride Thomas and we sat in first class, no less. The kiddies bounced around our carriage and begged us to hold them up to the window to watch the scenery and see the other famous trains dotted along the track. The train was an old fashioned one, everything was made out of wood and designed to be operated manually. Mr F and I both agreed that we much prefer these style of trains to the new electronic ones. They have so much more personality in them, but unfortunately they’re just not fit for purpose in a busy modern world.
The journey on Thomas was short and sweet, it lasted around thirty minutes which is the perfect amount of time to keep my little ones entertained. We hopped on and off the train all day and the journey was so beautiful. The kids didn’t care much for the gorgeous scenery but Mr F and I loved staring at the rolling green fields.
Our next stop was a mini train. Our son wanted to go on it, then he didn’t then when he did again somebody else had pinched the last seat. He started to get a little difficult so we had to stop for lunch at half 11, assuming he was grumpy because he needed feeding. Once he’d cheered up we carried on exploring the station. There was so much there for them to see and do. Face-painting, a play area, a bouncy castle, merry go round, a model railway with episodes of Thomas on a TV and of course the endless train rides. While Thomas was off on his journey, Charlie would pull into the station with Annie and Clarabelle and offer shorter train rides along the station. We did everything at least three times. My kiddies aren’t too fussed about repetition as long as there’s something to do.
It’s quite an expensive day out really but it was one of those things we couldn’t miss. Or more to the point, that we didn’t want our son to miss. I don’t think we could put a price on his face as Thomas pulled into the station. He was in total awe of Thomas and the other trains and we could see that he felt like a very lucky boy.