Last revised: December 4, 2023
By: Adam Burns
For many families, there's nothing quite like a day out riding the rails on a classic steam engine train. But when that train happens to be Thomas the Tank Engine, the excitement and wonder is taken to a whole new level.
"A Day Out With Thomas" train ride events offer an unforgettable experience for kids and adults alike, with the opportunity to ride on a life-size replica of Thomas and meet other beloved characters from the popular children's series. There are two locations in North Carolina hosting Thomas; the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer and the Tweetsie Railroad in Blowing Rock.
What is "A Day Out With Thomas"?
"A Day Out With Thomas" is an annual event series that takes place at various railway museums and heritage centers across the United States and Canada. The event typically features a 25-minute train ride on a full-sized replica of Thomas, as well as a variety of Thomas-themed activities and attractions. Kids can meet and take photos with Thomas and other characters from the show, participate in interactive games and crafts, and enjoy live entertainment and storytelling.
The event is designed to appeal to fans of all ages, from longtime Thomas enthusiasts to families experiencing the beloved characters and stories for the first time. Children can immerse themselves in the world of Thomas and his friends, while parents and grandparents can enjoy a nostalgic trip down memory lane.
What to Expect at "A Day Out With Thomas"
Each "A Day Out With Thomas" event varies in terms of activities and attractions, but most feature a mix of the following:
Train ride: The centerpiece of the event is a ride on a full-sized replica of Thomas the Tank Engine. The train typically departs every 30 minutes or so, with each ride lasting around 25 minutes. During the ride, passengers can enjoy scenic views of the surrounding area and wave to onlookers as they pass by.
Meet and greets: Kids can meet Thomas and other characters from the show, including Percy, Sir Topham Hatt, and more. They can take photos with the characters and get autographs if they choose.
Activities and games: There are usually a variety of interactive activities and games for kids to enjoy, such as a giant inflatable slide, a mini-golf course, a bean bag toss, and more. There may also be arts and crafts stations where kids can make their own Thomas-themed creations.
Live entertainment: Many events feature live music, storytelling, and other forms of entertainment. There may be stage shows featuring Thomas and his friends, or live performances by local musicians or performers.
Food and drink: Snacks and drinks are typically available for purchase, with options ranging from hot dogs and popcorn to ice cream and cotton candy.
Tips for Attending "A Day Out With Thomas"
If you're planning to attend an "A Day Out With Thomas" event, here are a few tips to help you make the most of your experience:
Buy tickets in advance: "A Day Out With Thomas" events often sell out quickly, so it's a good idea to purchase your tickets in advance. Check the event website for details on ticket prices and availability.
Arrive early: Plan to arrive at the event at least 30 minutes before your scheduled train ride. This will give you time to park, pick up your tickets, and explore the various activities and attractions before your ride.
Dress appropriately: The train ride and other activities take place outdoors, so be sure to dress appropriately for the weather. Wear comfortable shoes for walking and bring sunscreen, hats, and umbrellas as needed.
Bring a camera: You'll want to capture all the memories of your day out with Thomas, so bring a camera or smartphone to take photos and videos.
(Spencer): The North Carolina Transportation Museum, located in Spencer, NC, is situated on the former Southern Railway’s largest steam locomotive repair shops which includes the Bob Julian Roundhouse, the Flue Shop, and the Master Mechanics Shop.
As part of the museum they operate excursion trains and is one of just two locations in the United States to feature the live steam locomotive version of Thomas the tank engine. Percy is also featured during "A Day Out With Thomas."
The North Carolina Transportation Museum is a fascinating destination that offers visitors an immersive experience into the history of transportation in North Carolina. Located just a few miles north of Salisbury, the museum is situated on the site of the historic Spencer Shops, a former Southern Railway steam locomotive repair facility.
The museum offers a wide range of exhibits and activities, including restored trains, antique cars, historic airplanes, and interactive exhibits that bring the past to life. Visitors can explore the history of rail transportation in North Carolina, including the construction of the North Carolina Railroad and the role of the railroad in the Civil War.
One of the most impressive exhibits at the museum is the Back Shop, a massive facility that once housed the Southern Railway's steam locomotive repair operations. Today, visitors can explore the Back Shop and see a variety of historic locomotives and railcars.
The museum also features a variety of other exhibits, including the Bob Julian Roundhouse, a restored 1924 roundhouse that showcases historic locomotives and railcars. Visitors can also explore the antique automobile and aviation exhibits, which feature a variety of vintage cars and planes.
Overall, the North Carolina Transportation Museum is an incredible destination that offers visitors a unique look at the history of transportation in North Carolina. Whether you're a history buff, a train enthusiast, or simply looking for a fun and educational day trip, the museum is well worth a visit.
(Blowing Rock): The Tweetsie Railroad has been operating since 1957 and is based from the historic East Tennessee & Western North Carolina Railroad, a classic narrow-gauge system which once served both its namesake states. Today, they use three miles of narrow-gauge most often employing their, 4-6-0 "Ten wheeler", #12 to pull excursions. They will host Thomas this summer.
Today, the Tweetsie Railroad features a variety of attractions and activities that are sure to delight visitors of all ages. One of the most popular attractions is the Wild West Adventure, a thrilling ride that takes visitors on a journey through the Wild West. Guests can also enjoy a variety of other rides and attractions, including a Ferris wheel, a carousel, and a variety of kiddie rides.
In addition to the rides, the railroad also features a variety of shows and entertainment throughout the day. Visitors can watch a gunfight show, see a magic show, and even meet the park's mascot, watch live cloggers, see cowboys, and more!
One of the highlights is a ride on the park's historic steam locomotive, which has been lovingly restored and maintained over the years. Visitors can take a scenic train ride through the beautiful Appalachian Mountains, and experience what it was like to travel by train in the late 1800s.
Overall, the attraction is a must-visit destination for families and train enthusiasts alike. With its thrilling rides, entertaining shows, and rich history, it's no wonder why the Tweetsie Railroad has been a beloved attraction in North Carolina for generations.