On Sunday we all went to a Day Out With Thomas at the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Brian, Rissa, and I got up a bit earlier than usual for a Sunday, finished packing up and headed over to meet up with my brother-in-law, his wife, and their two boys (whom we’ll refer to as A1 and A2).
We all rode together in their van. It was a tight fit with Rissa’s car seat in the way back between me and A1. We had a good hour and a half drive ahead of us, not including stops, construction, or traffic!
A1 kept me busy with games of Battleship while Rissa (thankfully) slept. Oh, remember how this trip was supposed to be a surprise? Well, their dad slipped up a few days ago and told them, haha. They were still excited though! A2 proudly wore his Thomas shirt and brought one of his Thomas toys along for the car ride.
We’ve never been to the National Railroad Museum before. We weren’t sure what to expect. Once we went through the gate, we could see several large tents set up and a couple bouncers. Thomas pulled up to the platform as we arrived, which got the boys all excited!
The kids received maps for the grounds, showing them where they needed to go to get stamped. After they acquired all the stamps, they could take it to the gift shop tent for a prize. We thought that sounded like a good way to keep the boys moving through the activities so we could see everything.
Our first stop was a haybale maze, which contained “secret” places to get stamps. There was also a bean bag toss, a sand box and some other playground equipment, but we kept the boys’ attention on the Thomas event activities. We wondered around, taking in the large old trains. The sheer size of them was impressive! Most of them didn’t allow anyone on them, but there was one that was several cars long that everyone but Rissa and I walked through. (It wasn’t made for stroller access and it was too early for me to start wearing her!)
The boys even got to operate a real hand cart!
The boys burned off some energy in the bounce house. The big obstacle course bouncer jkept having issues in the beginning but eventually it was kept inflated and the boys went through it before we left. The lines were pretty short for the bouncers despite how busy the place was. We had lunch from their concession tent, which was reasonably priced for a concession stand. I do wish there had been more seating and more shaded seating – it was quite warm and sunny! I even had a guy get grumpy when he tried to take over our picnic table. We hadn’t started eating yet!
A2 started to get very anxious and antsy to ride Thomas. He kept asking and asking (you know how almost 4 year olds do) when we could go. If we were going now. He wanted to go now. I understand why we had tickets with a special ride time, but it was a challenge to have him understand that we had to go at a special time. A little flexibility with that would have been great.
So, we kept distracting him with the other activities!
Inside the museum, they had an area for Imagination Station. It was a bit crowded the first time we went in to search out stamps. Later it was less busy, but we missed pictures with Sir Topham Hatt both times because of his break. There were a few other things inside.
There was live music…. The wheels on the train go round and round… they let kids play on dums and stuff which was nice.
There was different arts and craft activities: making a train necklace, rubber stamps, coloring
There were some trains to play with…
The boys got Thomas temporary tattoos. I didn’t see any face painting (I swore there was going to be face painting!) and I didn’t see where they could build with Mega Bloks. They had fun though! We also walked through the museum to look at old signs, pictures of train wrecks and other neat stuff.
After the boys finished getting their stamps, we headed to the gift store tent for the last stamp and to see the prize!
The gift shop tent was filled with every Thomas themed toy imaginable! (or so it seemed – there was a LOT of stuff) we thought it was quite clever to “make” parents bring there kids into the tent for their prize. You also have to go through the gift shop after the train ride. Definitely marketing, but tough for some parents to deal with. The prize? It was a disappointment, I’m afraid. It was a coupon off of a Mega Bloks purchase and a little Thomas paper book. I could see the boys were bummed. We all thought they get some sort of little Thomas related toy or souvenir. Heck, even a keychain would have been more thrilling, I think.
The real highlight was the train ride! We lined up extra early so we could get onto the first car right behind Thomas – the open car. The scenery was limited since the track went around the museum grounds. Our ride took two laps around. They did have some old trains placed about and displayed “hobo language.” I learned something new about what merely looked like graffiti was a way for people to share which places were friendly to vagrants passing through.
Each car had their own person talking and sharing information as we went around the track. I liked this because on some tours, you can’t see what the guide is talking about and it can be confusing and frustrating. The wait to board was long though. They asked you to get in line 20 minutes before your scheduled time. We got in line at least 30 minutes before. It’s not easy to stand in line that long in the hot son with kids and no strollers. I lucked out and Rissa took a snooze in the carrier. A2 really struggled with the wait. I was afraid he was going to get himself in trouble and miss the ride as a consequence. Oh and all the kids (Rissa included) are now Junior Chief Engineers!
All in all, it was a good day and everyone had fun!
Totally Worth It!
Brian and I are definitely interested in returning to the National Railroad Museum for a regular day there. We’re also curious about their Haunted House and pumpkin train ride. My sister-in-law said she thought the price of the Day Out With Thomas tickets sounded expensive, but that it was worth it. She said she would have considered bringing the boys if she’d known about it (other than our trip).
To see more pictures, check out this slideshow!
Interested in attending? Check to see if Day Out With Thomas is coming to your town next! Thomas the Tank Engine has plenty more tour dates through November 2011.
Disclosure: I was provided tickets to attend in exchange for posting and tweeting about it. The thoughts and experiences shared are entirely my own. The photos shared are owned by me.