Despite outward appearances, C really did have a great time. Honest.
You can stop looking, folks, you've found him: The one little kid on the planet who doesn't like Thomas the Tank Engine, my son C. This has always been totally bizarre to me, as he's completely scary obsessed with trains. When they had the little train in the mall at Christmas time he demanded we ride it at least once a day, lest he rain chaos and pandemonium upon the household. The dreary January day that train was finally dismantled was a terrifying one. C's second birthday will be held at a miniature train track in three weeks, and is completely train themed. "Choo choo" were amongst his first words. And yet, every time I turned Thomas on, he would watch for a few minutes and inevitably get bored and demand Frozen for the 6,091th time. Nevertheless, when my friend Sunshine of Transforming the Now offered our family tickets she had won to A Day Out With Thomas, there was no question whether we'd take her up on them. C may not care about Thomas, but a fun day out as a family with tons of activities was guaranteed to be a hit regardless.
The event was held at the West Coast Railway Heritage Park in Squamish, BC (an hour outside of Vancouver). We woke up ridiculously early, and after bemoaning via my facebook status that I used to sleep til noon and play video games all Saturday, we were off. The drive kind of sucked. Not because it's a painful drive or anything, but because we were stupid enough to tell our 2 year-old that he was going to go ride a train before setting off. By the time we arrived into Squamish, he had decided we were horrible lying liars, never to be trusted again. He was whimpering and moaning in the backseat "traaaaain, traaaaaain" as though he were physically in pain. Luckily, he forgot about our betrayal pretty quickly upon arrival.
He will never be this happy again. Until the next time we let him ride a train.
We had a bit of time before our scheduled train ride, so we proceeded to explore "Knapford Station," which the park had been transformed into. It was kind of ridiculously cool, no lie. There was a ton of stuff for kids to do. Our first stop was to get Thomas temporary tattoos. These babies were made of some sort of otherworldly ink, cause C's STILL hasn't come off nearly a week later. We looked at tons of old steamer engines, skipped a magic show (more appropriate for slightly older kids), and met Sir Topham Hatt himself.
Not even his first celebrity- C has also met Nichelle Nichols and Mickey Mouse.
In no time at all, we had used up the free time before our train ride. We headed over to get loaded onto Thomas! We got seated into our little car, complete with table, and it was time to go. Volunteers wandered up and down the aisle, telling jokes for the kids and passing out "Junior Engineer" certificates. C was pretty pleased. I actually found the train ride itself the least satisfying part of the day, it only lasted about 20 minutes and went forward and back, but such is life. It was still pretty cool.
After getting off the train, we were ushered into a little tent where we were able to write a letter to Thomas (or any of his friends). The big bonus to this feature would be that after you mail the letter in the little Sodor post office, your child will actually receive a response from Thomas in the mail a few days later! When other than holidays and birthdays do kids ever get mail, not to mention from their television heroes?
We hit up the face painting station and did some playing with the many Thomas train sets available for kids to check out, but it was becoming pretty apparent that nap time was imminent. After a brief trip to the gift shop, where C chose a purple train named Charlie as his souvenir, it was time to head home. But first, to collect C's prize! When you first arrive at the event, you're given a map where you can collect stamps at the different activity stations. Once you've acquired all stamps, you can hand it in at the exit for a prize. I was pretty impressed by what the little prize was, too: A little Thomas made out of a couple of Mega Bloks! By the time we got back to our car we had so many little toys, stickers, tattoos, and activity books that C was definitely set for the ride home (of course he promptly passed out from all the excitement).
All in all, a huge success. Worth the drive, worth the whining, and a ton of fun. I definitely plan to check out the next event the railway holds, a Halloween train. I'll even go as far as to say that it's worth the new obsession....C has demanded to watch Thomas pretty much every second of every day since. My "This household has gone __ days without watching Frozen" sign is up to 3, guys. 3. Thanks, Thomas and Friends.
Yes, I actually have one.