Our Day With Thomas


Our Day With Thomas

Thomas the Tank Engine and Sir Topham Hatt have visited Chattanooga every year for the last two weekends in April, and we had the chance to visit them this year! Our kids love Thomas and spotting ALL the trains they can while we are out and about. They will scream “Train, train, train…” until we acknowledge that we see the train too. Because of this, we didn’t tell our kids that we were going to see Thomas and ride a train until the day before. Our oldest rode a Christmas train this year, so she knew what a train ride meant, but I don’t think the twins understood until we were on the train and started moving. 

Thomas the Tank Engine is a character from the British books The Railway Series written by Reverend Wilbert Awdry from 1945-1972. Thomas was not originally the title character; he actually didn’t show up until book #2, but he became the most popular one. The stories of Thomas and his friends aired on television in the United Kingdom in 1984 and then on the US show Shining Time Station in 1989. What began as a book series for Awdry’s son has grown into characters that are beloved be millions of households, has several different TV shows, movies, toys, books, and more. 

Watching the show with my kids these days has me reminiscing on my own childhood.

While I don’t vividly remember Thomas being a major part of my childhood, he was always there and loved through books, toys, and TV shows. While re-reading some of the original stories to my children, I’ve noticed that Thomas was a very arrogant and self-absorbed engine, but over the years and as his story has developed in the TV shows, he has become friendlier, more positive, happier, and caring. He is still self-absorbed at times and arrogant (aren’t we all!), but not like he used to be.

In the newer shows, Thomas is always eager to help, concerned for others, is welcoming to all and loves what he does. The other things I like about Thomas is that the TV show is not flashy or fast-paced, the trains have simple facial expressions kids can learn from and understand, and it is educational. These are also reasons why Thomas is popular among children with ASD. Mattel recently added a new character to the Thomas & Friends series: Bruno the Brake Car, who is autistic. The company worked closely with several organizations in the UK to carefully curate a character to ensure an accurate fictional representation of autism. Mattel has also added several other female trains to the cast from around the world and in a few of the seasons Thomas has traveled to other countries to help on their train lines. 

I waited too long to get tickets for our Day Out With Thomas and because of naps, we rode the 5:30pm train, which may have turned out to be a blessing because the crowd had died down quite a bit by then. We arrived about 20 minutes before our ride was to depart, which gave us plenty of time to walk from our car to the waiting line and watch Thomas pull up. We climbed aboard our waiting carriage and took off for a 25-minute ride. While the kids’ faces were plastered to the windows, the conductor came through with train ride certificates signed by Sir Topham Hatt and a sticker for each child.

Once we disembarked and waved goodbye to Thomas, we partook in the various other activities. Along with the merchandise tent there was a tent where kids could color pictures, play with various train tables, and get temporary tattoos. There was a magician and balloon animals, mini golf, outdoor sensory tables, yard games and a blow up slide. Everything was essentially free except for the train ride, concessions, and merchandise; so if you can’t afford the train ride, you could simply take your littles to participate in all the other activities and take a picture with Thomas and Sir Topham Hatt. While we didn’t hang around for a long time after our ride, I think the kids enjoyed themselves, including our six- and eight-year-old niece and nephew.

Would we go again? Yes, but I would plan ahead and buy my tickets in early March to have more time to play in all the other activities. Plus the kids will be older, naps will have changed and we will be able to do more things.

If your family loves Thomas the Tank Engine, I would add Day Out With Thomas to your bucket list. If you are looking to introduce your kids to Thomas, you can find several movies and tv shows on Amazon Prime and Netflix, and check your library for books.

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Kimberly Casey
Hi, my name is Kimberly and I am a new stay at home mom. I am a nomad of sorts. Born in Arkansas to a military family of five children, I was speaking German by the age of 4. I have lived in Germany, England, and the United States and have traveled to countless other countries. In 2006 I moved to Providence, Rhode Island in order to attend Johnson & Wales University where I received a Bachelor's degree in Food Service Management, an Associate's in Culinary Arts, and an Associate's in Baking and Pastry Arts. So you could say that I'm a foodie.  After college I worked in Collegiate Ministry for many years and loved every second of it. I would do it again in a heartbeat if given the chance today. I met my husband, Wade, in 2011 through Collegiate Ministry but we didn't start dating until 2015. Our entire relationship was long distance and we saw each other a total of 10 times before our wedding. After our wedding in 2016, I moved to Chattanooga where my husband is an associate pastor and I can say that this move was one of the hardest things I had ever done. After two years of marriage we welcomed our daughter into the world this past October. She is a joy, loves to smile, and has turned our world upside down. If I'm not in the kitchen baking or cooking, you can find me outside enjoying nature.