My four-year-old and two-year-old absolutely love Thomas the Tank Engine and all his friends. So we couldn’t miss the opportunity to take them to “A Day Out With Thomas“.
While in Liverpool, England last year, we came across a Mattel Play store which had a wonderful Thomas the Train play center, along with Bob the Builder and Fireman Sam. Unfortunately, my little ones were asleep and missed the opportunity to enjoy it. My husband immediately began to inquire the whereabouts of other Mattel Play Stores. However we were bummed to discover there’s only two in the world: one in Dubai and the other in Liverpool, England. We live in California, USA.
After our trip to England, my husband began to search for other Thomas the Train type venues. At that time, Thomasland was still being built and although we were looking forward to it, it would still require a trip across the country.
Thankfully, online we discovered Thomas travels throughout the United States by track (of course). We were very excited to notice one of Thomas’ stops is about 2-3 hours from our home. Immediately we planned an impromptu getaway to meet Thomas.
Getting There and When to Arrive
Since my toddlers don’t do well on long trips in the car, we decided to drive out to the campground early in the morning; this plan allowed them to sleep on the way there. Once we arrived in Felton, California, we had breakfast and arrived at the Roaring River Campground right when it opened at 9 AM.
We were one of the first families to arrive, which made parking a breeze. The cost is $10 to park within the campgrounds, which I found worth it at the end of the day, being 36 weeks pregnant with two tired toddlers walking back to our car.
In Felton, CA the weather ranged from low 60s to mid 70s in early August. Although toward the afternoon it felt more like mid 80s. We were all wearing pants with short-sleeved shirts and we got hot.
There are quite a few trees and buildings that provide nice shaded areas but most of the activities are under direct sunlight.
Keep in mind the grounds are mostly dirt and grass. I didn’t think think this through when it came to our wardrobe. I had my daughter in white shoes. Needless to say, they were no longer white when we left.
Food and Drinks
They had several food venues available throughout the park and they all sold basically the same thing: BBQ. Prices were pretty high (about $8 for a burger al a carte and combo plates over $15). We bought two chicken burgers and a bag of chips for $16 and shared them amongst us four. However, being a mom of toddlers I know to pack a large amount of snacks. So we had also munched on veggies, fruits, nuts and crackers to keep us satisfied.
We brought our own water, but we drank them so fast, due to the heat. We purchased a few more bottles throughout the day which ran about $1.60 per bottle.
Portable bathrooms are available upon entering park as well as permanent ones toward the back. They both seemed well maintained and convenient to use.
There were several activities to occupy my toddlers attention before our train ride with Thomas. There was a bubble station, bounce houses, sand box areas, remote control Thomas ride along cars on tracks, train tables and a face painting station. They also had a storytelling, tattoo stations and a photo opportunity with Sir TopHam Hat. This is where arriving early really paid off!
In the morning, it felt as if my kiddos had the campgrounds to themselves. They had their pick of activities without any chaos or long lines. As the day progressed, the campgrounds grew very busy and the young staff struggled to keep some of the activities organized. Sadly, the remote control Thomas ride along cars ran out of battery, and the lines grew very long. With tired toddlers everywhere, it was difficult for some parents to keep them comfortable while waiting in lines.
Thomas the Train Ride
The train ride felt brief but it was very enjoyable. The beautiful redwoods made a gorgeous backdrop and the music made the ride cheerful! I also appreciate how helpful the staff were when it came time to load and unload the passengers.
A few tips when planning your train ride:
- Sit on the side that is closest to the festivities. You’ll have a better view during the train ride
- We received some bad advice when it came time to take a picture with Thomas. We were advised to get in line after our train ride. Since our train ride was at 1:30pm our toddlers were too tired to wait in the heat and the line was very long! We ended up settling for selfie, with Thomas in the background. I wish we would’ve taken a picture with Thomas at the beginning of the day, way before our scheduled train ride and the crowds arrived.
- When booking your tickets, I advise you choose to sit in the car with a canopy. Honestly, unless you’re the car behind Thomas, the distance between Thomas and the car is insignificant. Having a canopy above your car gives the perfect amount of shade from the sun and a great breezeway.
- Although you may be advised to get in line an hour before your train ride, it’s really unnecessary. Since your tickets designate your car, just arrive about 20 mins early to get a good seat. You’ll find families load up till the last minute but may not have the best view of the train ride.
- Lastly book your train ticket as soon as possible! Train rides book seriously fast!
Overall my family had a wonderful time at Roaring Camp Railroads A Day Out with Thomas. I felt my kids were the perfect age to enjoy the festivities. Aside from the ill advised timing of the picture with Thomas, we were pleased to arrive early to take advantage of all the activities and end our day with the train ride.
If you’d like to take your kiddos and you’re in Northern California, Thomas is returning this October with his best friend, Percy. There’s a rumor of a talking Thomas with moving eyes may be debuting at the camp as well. Depending on the newest addition of our family (we’re expecting a baby girl to arrive in September), we may plan to go again. The camp will be decked out for Halloween and they plan to add a pumpkin catch!
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