Sunday, May 31, 2009
A day out with Thomas
Location: Midland Railway in Baldwin City Kansas (also held at other locations in the Metro area I believe)
Cost: $18 per person age 2 and up. Parking was free but you have to park at the local high school and take a shuttle/school bus to the Railway site.
Review: A really great time. Every one gets to have a 25min ride on a Thomas Train as well as take part in a lot of fun activity tents. Since this is an outdoor event the weather has a lot to do with your satisfaction but if that cooperates then you can have a lot of fun. If your kid loves Thomas then you will have him flipping out of his/her gourd.
The "Day out with Thomas" only comes to Baldwin City once a year for two weekends, so you have to plan for it. Baldwin City is located about an hour from Kansas City and by the time we got there the kids were very excited. We sat at the back of the shuttle/school bus on the way to the Railway and they loved all the bouncing up and down. Once there, they had a lot of things to do:
• A ladder truck that the kids could have their picture taken in as well as actual firefighters clothes they could try on.
• A Bubble station where kids could blow soap bubbles
• A moon bounce and inflatable slide
• Activity tent with 6 wooden Railway tables, 3 Trackmaster railway tables and a duplo Train Table as well as Thomas Coloring pages and crayons
• A Video and Storytelling tent where a big screen TV played various Thomas videos between story telling presentations
• A Tattoo Tent where every kid can get one Tattoo
• A sort of petting zoo with goats, a Tortoise, a cow, the second largest rodents in the world (can't remember name), a monkey, a camel, and a kangaroo
• A Magic show stage (didn't catch the show)
• A meet Sir Topham Hat station
• And of course the Gift shop tent where everything Thomas can be purchased (I stayed out of that one)
They did have a baby changing/nursing Tent. Which impressed me as that was one of the first tents we visited when we got there. It was small and later I had to settle for a shady tree when a Mom was in there nursing but it was a nice touch I rarely see anywhere and would have been a god send had the weather been wet. For the older crowd they had portajohns and hand washing stations but they were in good shape.
There were about four food vendors as I recall. Typical fair food: hot dogs, burgers funnel cakes, and one vendor selling PB&J (Which I appreciate). You could get a hot dog meal that included a hot dog, drink, chips and a train shaped whistle for $5. The whistle doesn't seem to work real well but my kids didn't seem to care, as long as it was shaped like a train they loved it. Our kids drink milk so we brought our own and don't recall if any was available. I suppose you could bring your own food but be warned you would be carrying it around all day since you have to take the shuttle. There were picnic tables available, some under a pavilion.
My kids loved the tent with the train tables so we spent a lot of time there. The video/storytelling tent was also a hit.
The big event of course was the train ride. The Thomas Train really looks like Thomas but I am fairly certain it couldn't pull a feather and that the diesel engine at the back of the train did all the work. My kids gladly accepted the explanation that Thomas rarely pulls so many cars and just needed a little help. The ride is 25 minutes and we got the first passenger car behind Thomas. The line for Thomas gets broken up into different lanes which direct you to the different cars. All but the last car were enclosed passenger cars. The last one had benches and a roof but was otherwise open the the elements. I don't believe the cars were air conditioned and luckily for us it wasn't too hot and we had a nice breeze. I have heard that the ride is murder when it is hot as the windows on the cars don't cool it off near enough. On a really hot day you might want to choose the open car. My kids have never been on a train so they loved the ride. The novelty of sitting on a train being "pulled" by Thomas, and feeling the car gently rock side to side seemed to be thrilling enough. There really wasn't much to see out the windows but farmland and one or two old trains on sidings near the "train station". The route is a straight line with Thomas going backwards for about 12 minutes then forwards back to the station. The kids all got certificates stating they were junior Engineers on the return leg of the journey. After the ride you have the chance to get your picture taken in front of Thomas. You can use your own camera but they will take your picture and make it available for purchase in the Gift Tent later in the day. You can also have your picture taken with Sir Topham hat and purchase it the same way.
All in all it was a great day and money well spent. The kids loved it and there really was plenty to keep them busy. The staff on the train weren't dressed like conductors which bummed me out a little, but the kids didn't seem to notice. I would strongly suggest going in the morning as it is much cooler and the play tents aren't as crowded as they will become later in the day. The Thomas Train runs again June 5, 6 & 7 so you could still catch this one before it is gone till next year.
Sorry for the length of this review I will try and make it shorter next time.
Reviewed by Mr. Rogers