Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Day Out with Thomas at Strasburg Rail Road

Last June, Daily Vacationer Jr got the thrill of a lifetime when we were able to attend one of the most talked about and anticipated childhood memory-making events of the year: A Day Out with Thomas at Strasburg Rail Road.  We absolutely love Strasburg Rail Road out in Lancaster County (tons of happy times were had there in our own childhood)!  A regular day at Strasburg is already loads of fun, with rides on historic steam engines and train cars through Amish farmland and lots of extra fun to do at the station from browsing the extensive gift shops and sampling the good eats to taking a spin on the hand-powered cranky cars and behind the Pint-Sized Pufferbelly miniature steam engine.  But when A Day Out with Thomas comes to Strasburg, it all becomes even more exciting - an absolute must for anyone with Thomas and Friends/train fans in the family.

One of the things that we liked best about A Day Out with Thomas was how well run it all was (no confusion and delay here, Sir Topham Hatt).  The overflow of parking was redirected with easy to follow signs to the Sight and Sound Theatre where buses were transporting visitors back and forth pretty much every five minutes.  There were no lines or huge crowds waiting even at the height of the weekend, and it was no big deal to run back to the car to grab something you forgot.  We also observed a distraught family who had missed their time slot to ride the Thomas train being assured that they would be able to get on the next ride and were quickly printed new tickets with a new time.  Everything was clearly marked and there were staff everywhere to answer questions and keep everyone safe with all the train comings and goings.  A Day Out with Thomas was probably was one of the smoothest run events we've ever been to - and for an event where the main audience is not even school-aged yet, that is saying a lot!  It was very clear that it was the staff's job to worry about all the details, and visitors were just expected to relax and have fun.

The highlight of A Day Out with Thomas is, of course, seeing the blue tank engine himself, and no matter how many times he puffed in and out of the station, there was always euphoria among the crowds as he went by.  Making things even better was the addition of his best friend, Percy, who was also available to ride behind ( and don't worry - we were informed that back on the Island of Sodor, James was taking care of Percy's usual job pulling the mail cars so he was able to come too).  Both engines talked and smiled as they entered and exited the station and then would stop to pose for photos with guests in between train rides.  We rode behind Thomas and Percy and definitely recommend going for the upgraded ticket to experience both (and you can always upgrade once you are there as we saw many families doing).

A Day Out with Thomas also includes many special extras around the train station that aren't usually there.  There's a fun photo op with the famous Sir Topham Hatt, a tent to get temporary tattoos, lots of Thomas and Friends toys, books,  clothing, and more to browse and buy, plus lots of activities.  We headed over to the Imagination Station where numerous train tables and piles of building materials gave everyone a chance to create their own Thomas story.  Nearby, a handful of Thomas power wheels were available for little ones to ride around the tracks.  A favorite spot among parents was the Storytelling and Video Viewing location - a great place to rest and regroup without getting bored.  Photo ops also abounded with big banners of Thomas and Friends characters hung low for smaller visitors to enjoy, as well as many places to stop and see Thomas and Percy puffing in and out of the station.

A Day Out with Thomas is already chocked full of special fun and activities, and Strasburg Rail Road manages to make it even better by continuing to run their normal steam train route, as well as all their regular extras around the station.  Different ticket combos allow you to enjoy some or all of the trains available to ride during the event (and  as always, train station extras are FREE with a train ticket).  Daily Vacationer Jr had an amazing time at A Day Out with Thomas at Strasburg Rail Road - and judging from the looks on the faces old and young around us, we were not the only ones.  Definitely take advantage of this awesome event and bring your Thomas and train lovers to meet their beloved tank engines face to face and make memories that the family will remember forever.

September 16 - 24
November 17 - 19


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