2018 Update: Day Out with Thomas runs from April 21, 28-29, and May 5-6, 2018.
Disclaimer: My family was provided with complimentary tickets to Day Out with Thomas. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
This past weekend I brought the family to Day Out with Thomas at Essex Steam Train in Essex, CT. It’s one of the most popular family spring events in Connecticut. I had heard great things about it in the past so I was very excited to attend. I have three little ones who love trains so I knew they would love all that the day had to offer.
We attended on the first day of the 2017 season and unfortunately it was a rainy day. Is it just me or does it feel like it’s raining every other day this year? Anyway, I was a bit bummed about the weather but the kids were excited and there was no backing out.
TIP: Essex Steam Train suggests getting to the event at least 1 hour before your scheduled train departure time. I would agree that this is pretty good advice. You’ll need to leave yourself enough time to get parking and pick up any tickets left at will-call.
There is limited parking at the event so there’s a good chance that you’ll have to drive off-site for parking. Don’t worry, the parking is pretty easy and free. Essex does a good job at posting signs to find designated parking lots. They have school bus shuttles available to bring you back and forth from the event. The shuttles run pretty frequently. My kids were thrilled to ride the bus and even mentioned it as their favorite part of the day – go figure!
TIP: Consider baby-wearing infants. You’ll have to fold up your stroller to get on the shuttle and you’ll also have to leave the stroller in a designated area off the train. I didn’t think it was too much walking for my toddler either. It might be easier to skip the stroller all together.
Day Out with Thomas is a very popular event and tickets tend to sell out quickly. Tickets prices are $25 (plus service fee) for ages 2 and up. Kids under 2 are free! Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased online or by calling by calling toll-free 866.468.7630. There will be no walk-ups or day of event tickets available. For more information and directions, contact Essex Steam Train & Riverboat at 860.767.0103 or visit EssexSteamTrain.com.
Thomas the Tank Engine rolls out of Essex Station every 45 minutes. You’ll have a specific departure time on your ticket. Unlike the North Pole Express, there are no assigned cars. The staff will simply escort you to an empty car. The whole procedure seemed to work smoothly.
Thomas is a sight to see. He is a life-size tank engine that talks – complete with facial movements. You can get up close to Thomas and take a picture.
TIP: Don’t forget to wear Thomas apparel to make the pictures extra special. My trio wore Thomas hats and we picked up some Thomas t-shirts from Old Navy.
Once aboard the train, you’ll notice the brightly colored flags lining the windows. There is plenty of room for families of 4 to sit together (we squeezed in 5). The train takes a 25-minute narrated adventure on the track. Each child will receive a junior engineer certificate. The whole trip was short and sweet. The kids loved being on the train.
Day Out with Thomas is a lot more than just the train ride. Included in your admission are carnival rides, face painting, a petting zoo, storytelling, video theater, magic show, play area and clown. You get a lot for what you pay for. Day Out with Thomas is held rain or shine. Many of the activities are under tents or indoors. Despite the rainy day, we spent about three hours at the event.
There is food available to purchase or you can choose to bring your own. There is a large tent available with tables and chairs.
There are also opportunities to meet and take your picture with Percy and Sir Topham Hatt.
We had a great time at Day Out with Thomas. I can now see why it’s a family favorite. There are so many activities for the Thomas lover and parents will appreciate how well the event is run. I would definitely recommend visiting.