By the time I found out about the Day Out with Thomas at Essex Steam Train & Riverboat, the event was already sold out! I’m still trying to get in-the-know about all of the great kids programs in this area as a new mom (can I still say “new mom” 15+ months in?) and will hopefully be sharing more of that here.
Anyways, I was determined to find a ticket one way or another. I only needed one as my son is under 2 so he could get in free. I checked back on the tickets website last Tuesday and there was ONE ticket left for 12:45 p.m. on Sunday. Without hesitation, I grabbed it. Our Day Out with Thomas was set! Toot Toot!!
Saturday night I couldn’t fall asleep I was so excited. By Sunday morning I felt like it was Christmas morning and all of the stars aligned (I base most days with a toddler on the stars aligning – or not). He woke up at the perfect time, ate at the perfect time and took a nap at the perfect time to make sure we got to Essex in plenty of time for our train ride! All of the reviews I read from the day said to get there at least 1 hour before your train departed..if not more since there was so much to do.
During little man’s nap, I literally skipped around the house getting all of the last minute things ready – namely a shower for mom, I had packed our stuff up the night before in anticipation of the stars not aligning perfectly to make things go a little smoother. More on what I packed for the day later.
My little man had no idea the fun that awaited! And I was so excited to see the look on his face as he experienced so many new things for the first time.
We pulled into Essex a few minute before 11 a.m. and were immediately directed to the overflow lot. Something I had anticipated from reviews. That meant a train (or bus) ride to the actual event. I was slowly realizing that this event was slightly ambitious by myself and my 15 month old, but totally doable with the right gear (and mindset!)
I was immediately grateful I had brought his little umbrella stroller. Overflow lot meant getting on – and off – two more modes of transportation that day with a stroller, backpack, toddler and only two arms.
Leaving my car a train or bus ride away was a little worrisome. That meant leaving all of my back up items behind and a questionable return ride if he got overtired. But I tried not to think about it too hard. We would manage!
The train ride to our train ride was fun! And technically his very first train ride! I opted to sit in the very first bench even though it was a garbage can. First seat, meant first off and less walking down a train aisle with a toddler in one arm and a stroller in the other.
Once at the event, I had to pick up my ticket and was relieved that there was no line. Check that off the list! And we were way early for our 12:45 Thomas ride. We got in and headed right past a line forming to get their picture taken with Percy the train. I think skipping that first line really helped us be out of the crowd for a little bit that morning. And we darted right past all of the little rides as he was too young for them. Instead we headed to the petting zoo.
I think this might have been one of the biggest highlights of his day. I’ll never forget the look of pure joy and amazement that spread across his face when he saw there were live animals right next to him!
From there we checked out the rest of the action. We played on the toy train tables which my little man absolutely loved. They could have used a few more trains as I’m sure they were slowly disappearing throughout the day, but luckily we brought our own! ***Mom Win***
Before our train ride we went out to the picnic tables set up under a huge tent to have a snack. There were tickets to buy food but I had packed some snacks for us – mostly so we didn’t have to wait in more lines that day. There’s only so much a 15 month old can take.
Then it was time for the main event….our ride on Thomas the train! I must say, by the time we got on the train ride, he was pretty pooped. Maybe we got there a little tooo early. But he sat there and ate some puffs and had fun looking out the window and watching the other kids on the train.
I saw some people complained on facebook that the ride was too short, about 20 minutes I believe. But let me tell you…it was perfect for us. Little man was done after 18 minutes and I was grateful when the train pulled back into the station (he was already leading me off by the hand saying “night night.” Just one observation if I may…there could have been a few more Thomas related decorations ON the actual train. There were just a few flags up and it would have been great to have just a few more reminders we were on Thomas. But really, all in all, a great experience!
In case you missed the link above, you should definitely check out Out and About Mom’s Top 10 “Really Useful” Tips for Day Out with Thomas 2016 if you are planning on going this weekend!
I would, however, just like to add a few tips of my own traveling with a toddler by yourself:
Don’t drink 2 coffees before you go and expect a 15 month old to stay happy while you wait to use the bathroom/use the bathroom.
Use a backpack! My diaper bag swings off of my shoulder all. of. the. time. I told my husband I was considering caving and getting a fanny pack. He recommended I use our backpack and for that I am eternally grateful. And will be using it much much more.
An umbrella stroller (not your limousine stroller) is your absolute best friend. I don’t know how I would have survived the day getting on and off trains and buses with our bigger stroller…and our City Mini is really easy to fold up at that!
Check for ticks. Yes, we are in the heart of tick country and although we weren’t out hiking in the woods or deep grass, when we were on the train, I looked down at my leg for a split second and caught a pesky tick crawling up my pants. So just check yourself and your kids over after any event outside.
Pack smart. You know your family so plan accordingly. For my son and I, here is what I brought with us for the day in our handy dandy backpack:
- Diapers and wipes – obvious, but you have no idea how many times I’ve forgotten these essentials going out.
- Change of clothes – from mud puddles to diaper blowouts you NEVER know. My kid has gone pantsless at least once in his life.
- Sweater or light jacket – I hate to admit that this is the ONE thing I forogt. I left it right on the counter. Thankfully it wasn’t needed. If it was, I would have been buying one at the gift shop!
- Hand sanitizer
- Two to three favorite small toys
- Food and snacks
- for baby – Water, Yums crackers, Kashi bar, puffs, Plum organics pouch, Gerber tub.
- for mommy – water, Real Stick…(puffs)
- Umbrella stroller, City Mini GT stroller, Baby Bjorn – I figured I would be using the umbrella stroller, but wanted to have the other two in the car just in case. Better in the trunk then all the way at home.
- Just a quick note here for this event – there were a few rocky areas where the umbrella stroller wheels had a little trouble getting over, but not a lot!
- Most importantly: somewhere safe to keep the Jr. Engineer Certificate you receive at the end of the Thomas the train ride!