Friday, June 29, 2018

Highlights From Day Out With Thomas {+ More Train Events To Check Out!}

**We received complimentary tickets for consideration. The Thomas and train love is 100% our own.

I remember very clearly when the love of Thomas began in my house. My son was just about to turn two, and as a member of the Toys R Us birthday club, he received a special coupon in the mail. One free Thomas the Tank Engine Wooden Railway train. Never one to pass up on free, off to Toys R Us we went to pick out a train (Fearless Freddie, as it turned out.) Of course we all know that in every TRU Thomas section is the beloved TRAIN TABLE. The love was instant. So much so in fact that my husband decided that he needed one of his own.

I must admit, I thought this was a HORRIBLE idea. You see, up until that point, my Shaun didn't really care for toys much. He'd play with them once or twice, and then it was over, he wanted nothing more to do with them. So spending that much money on a toy that would just sit? Well, I just didn't see the point.

Boy was I wrong! That was the start of an almost decade's long love of our favorite blue engine! One that continues on through today at almost 11 years old. While the train table finally saw its final days a few years back after several moves and constant every day play, the love of Thomas continues.

On June 23rd, we had the chance to head to Whitewater Valley Railroad in Connersville, IN for their annual Day Out With Thomas event! This was our second visit to this event (the last one 5 years ago), and I do believe this time around was even more fun! Here's a recap of our visit:

When we arrived we were given our Thomas passports. These little booklets had places for 4 stamps that we had to get stamped throughout the event at the various stations. One those were finished, you can turn in for a fun prize (a little Thomas ball). If you're on a budget, this is a great FREE souvenir!

Our first stop was the Imagination Station. This place is packed full of fun activities from trainsets to Thomas Mega Blocks, coloring sheets and more. They even had some tablets out with Thomas activities. Now, my Shaun has a room full of trainsets and other various Thomas toys... but this still remains one of his favorite places at the event!

Also in the same tent was the temporary tattoo station where kids could get a tattoo of their favorite Thomas character put on!

Next up we checked out the magic show... which is of you ask me, part magic/part comedy! My daughter loves a good show so this was right up her alley and probably one of her favorite part of the day! She even was selected to receive this fun paper necklace from one of the tricks. (Shows will of course vary by event locations!) During our last visit this had been a bit of a sensory overload for Shaun, but he was actually able to enjoy it this time around as well! If you do have an autistic or otherwise sensory sensitive child, it might still be a good idea to bring along some noise cancelling headphones, just in case!

Next up, we HAD to check out the gift shop! This is a Thomas fan's absolute dream. Thomas, Thomas, everywhere! There were toys, games, clothes... just about anything you can think of. Some are general Thomas items, but many are exclusive Day Out With Thomas merchandise. One of the things I loved about the gift shop is that there really are items at all price ranges so those on a budget can still purchase a little something too!

Next up we got to see some of our favorite characters. Sir Topham Hatt offered meet and greet photo opps throughout the day which my son absolutely loved. What kid DOESN'T love seeing their favorite characters in real life? They also had professional photographers taking photos which you had the option of purchasing if desired, though you could also take your own too!

They loved seeing this inflatable Toby as well. Perfect for fun photos of the Thomas fan in your life! 

Throughout the event there were a variety of games, ride on activities and even bounce houses for kids to enjoy! My kids absolutely loved this little hand crank train! And if you needed a break from the outside, you could head in for story time! They had Thomas shows playing as well as fun stories to read!

But of course, the real highlight of the event is seeing Thomas in real life AND getting to ride him! It was about a 30 minute train ride and both of my kids absolutely loved it... we were able to check out some local views including some cool older trains. And seriously how fun to wave to passersby from Thomas!? All while listening to some of our favorite Thomas hits! We could have ridden all day long! 

Overall, it was an absolute blast! My Shaun might have been one of the older kids in attendance (not just there for their little siblings at least!), but he still loved it every bit as much, if not more, than he did 5 years ago!

Do you have a Thomas fan in your life? Be sure to find out if Thomas is coming to a railroad near you here.

And while all of the Indiana dates for 2018 have passed  that doesn't mean the train fun has to stop just yet!  The Whitewater Valley Railroad is dedicated to the preservation of a historic branch line railroad, to the restoration of railroad equipment, and to the conduct of educational railroad programs. The WVRR is operated by trained volunteers. Day Out With Thomas is just ONE of the events throughout the year that helps to fund the preservation efforts in Connersville! Having seen the impact that Thomas and trains have made on my son personally, this is a mission that I can proudly stand behind. It is through trains that my son found his speech, and offered a bridge that allowed us to reach him and for that I am very thankful. Seeing a kids eyes light up as they discover trains for the very first time? That is certainly worth preserving!

You can learn more about the Whitewater Valley Railroad and events at the links below:

Visit the Whitewater Valley Railroad Website:
WVRR Facebook Page:

One specific event that is certainly worth mentioning is their annual Polar Express Train Ride:

THE POLAR EXPRESS(TM) comes to life when the train departs Connersville's Grand Central Station for a journey through the quiet countryside for a special stop at the "North Pole" to allow Santa Claus to board THE POLAR EXPRESS. Guests on board will enjoy hot chocolate and a cookie while listening and reading along with the magical story. 
Experience the joy of watching the children's faces when the train arrives at the "North Pole," where Santa Claus and his helpers will be waiting. Santa will board THE POLAR EXPRESS(TM) Train Ride where he will greet each child and hand them the special first gift of Christmas during the return to the station. You will surely want to make this an annual holiday tradition.
The Polar Express book/movie is an absolute favorite in my home--- at Christmas time and all year round! (Let's just say we've worn out a few copies over the years!) This trip combines the love of trains with the Magic of Christmas for one amazing event! There are several dates available throughout November and December, and tickets to sell out fast so it's never too early to plan ahead!



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