Posts Tagged ‘Roaring Camp Railroads’

After resisting taking The Monkey to ‘A Day Out With Thomas’ at Roaring Camp Railroads for the last two years (I’m a big fan of the basic Thomas toys and books but I don’t like the commercial hoopla that now surrounds the brand), this year I broke down under his pleas and bought tickets.  And in the end it was both better and worse than I’d expected.

Off to find Thomas

First the positives

Some parts of the day were really well organised. The system for getting hundreds of families on and off the train worked remarkably smoothly.  I also loved the way they’d set up the bouncy houses with different bouncy houses for different age groups. This meant my 2 and 3 year olds could bounce safely away from the more energetic 6 and 7 year olds.

Roaring Camp itself is a beautiful location and we had lots of fun exploring the old trains and track.

Now the Negatives

It gets pretty crowded. We booked an early train ride and were in and out of the place by lunch. I’m not sure how my kids would have dealt with the long afternoon queues.

There were a couple of fun booths for kids set up away from the tracks with some interesting toys and art materials.  But these were totally inadequate to deal with the number of visitors.  My boys really enjoyed the painting area and, luckily, were the only kids there first thing in the morning. I say luckily because there was only one small table with room for, maybe, six kids and only four little pots of paint and paint brushes.  I can’t quite imagine the scene there when it got busier.  We found a similar problem in the toy area where there were five train tables set up but almost no trains. Seriously, there were twenty engines toys with about 50 boys trying to grab them even early in the morning.  It was a total melee and, after I was eventually able to procure our boys trains to push, I had to stand over them constantly to stop other kids snatching them away.  Given the organisers knew how many tickets they’d sold, I think they ought to have made better provision in the toy and art areas to deal with the expected number of visitors.

Synchronized painting. A new Olympic sport.

If your kids like face-painting (and thankfully ours don’t) be prepared for very, very long queues.

The train itself is very long.  If you are in the first two train carriages, you can see Thomas. If you’re not, forget it.  That said, the train ride itself is pretty enjoyable. But if your kid is really excited about riding with ‘Thomas’ in particular, he’s going to be pretty disappointed if you’re in one of the middle or end carriages.

Would we go again?

No. It’s pretty pricey and a bit too crowded.  Plus our kids enjoyed the old Roaring Camp trains and railroad far more than the Thomas events. I think next time we’ll visit on a non-Thomas day.

If you do decide to go these would be my tips:

-book an early train ride and visit all the booths in the morning. It does get packed out in the afternoons

-make sure to book early for the train and get a ticket in carriage 1 or 2. It’s not really worth the ‘special’ Thomas price otherwise.

-keep your kids away from the store unless you want to be whined at all afternoon. It was a buying frenzy in there and the prices were much higher than you’ll find on everyone’s favorite online retailer.

The best bit.


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