Our family headed to Duluth for the first weekend of the Day Out with Thomas: The Ready, Set, Go Tour 2016!
Thomas the Train is visiting Duluth the first two weekends in August – that means you still have time to go! The Celebration Tour continues this weekend, August 12-14. I shared more info in a previous post here. Tickets are $19 per person for ages 2 and up and can be purchased online or in person.
The prices may seem high; however, this event is a fundraiser for the North Shore Scenic Railroad in Duluth, and includes the ride, access to the museum and all the other activities. The only other costs you’ll have are food and any souvenirs if you choose to buy them.
Before our train ride, we decided to explore the many activities going on outside and inside. Like in the past 2 years, there was live music, concessions (hot dogs, hamburgers, kids’ meals, smoothies, etc), a bouncy house and slide, face painting, imagination stations with interactive activity tables, bubble machines, and even a bubble foam play area where kids took their shoes off and played with foamy bubbles! And of course, between train rides, Thomas the Train was there for pictures! Professional photographers took posed pictures of kids on alternating sides of Thomas (yes, parents can take their own, too). The photos could be purchased inside or online.
The food was very good – I had a really good hamburger and the kids shared cotton candy. The prices add up quickly though ($5 – 6 for a hamburger, chicken sandwich, etc.) and the entrees don’t come with fries, so be prepared if you have a big, hungry family (or at least bring your own snacks and drinks).
I thought the activities were well-organized this year. Though we couldn’t easily find someone to stamp our maps at 2 of the 4 stamp stations (get four stamps at activity stations and get a prize), there was more order and room to walk than previous years.
We did the train ride at 3:00pm, which was narrated from beginning to end (though we could barely hear any of it). Like last year, the train had some party decorations inside, otherwise it was a no-frills, 30-minute train ride. All the kids got “junior engineer” certificates at the end of the ride. The kids enjoyed it and it was fun to see views of the lake and harbor. And the staff made it fun with some activities and games during the ride.
After the train ride, be prepared to enter the building through – the gift shop! The prices were too high for this frugal mom – $9.99 for a Thomas the Train football, $17 for a kids’ engineer cap. But there was definitely everything a little Thomas fan would like.
When your kids fill up their map with 4 stamps (or at least 3) they get a prize. Last year it was a cheap party blower that fell apart quickly. This year it was a plastic clapper. I don’t understand why they want to keep giving kids noisy toys. They were free and the kids liked them, but I was irritated with the toys very soon. Two years ago the prizes were better – quality Thomas the Train toys and snacks. I’d like to see those prizes return again.
The outdoor activities are out in the direct sun so prepare with lots of sunscreen, water and whatever you need to stay cool. You can buy ice cream inside. There’s no air conditioning inside, but it’s nice and cool in the theater where they have storytelling and videos.
Interested in going? I think it’s worth the trip if your kids love Thomas as much as mine do. Last year I put together some tips which I’ll share again here:
1) To save money, eat before you come and bring water and snacks.
2) If it’s warm and sunny, wear a sun hat, sunscreen and sunglasses – you’ll spend a good amount of time outside.
3) Consider bringing a small fold-up chair (easy to stick under a stroller). There were few chairs anywhere outside, and few places to sit inside.
4) Cool off and take a break in the theater inside.
5) Be prepared for crowds and bring your camera!
6) Buy your tickets in advance. Train rides do sell out!
7) Park in the Duluth Transit Authority ramp two blocks east of the Depot. The ramp right next to the Depot costs $10 (event parking), but the DTA ramp is a block down and is $6 maximum per day (we only paid $4 since we weren’t there the whole day). Note that there’s construction in that area so follow the detour signs!
ENJOY THESE FREE PRINTABLE COLORING SHEETS!
Day Out with Thomas Info:
WHEN: FRIDAY, AUGUST 5 – SUNDAY, AUGUST 7
FRIDAY, AUGUST 12 – SUNDAY, AUGUST 14
TIME: GATES OPEN: 8:30 AM
GATES CLOSE: 6:00 PM
RIDES HOURLY: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
WHERE: NORTH SHORE SCENIC RAILROAD
506 W. MICHIGAN STREET, DULUTH, MN 55802
Tickets for Day Out with Thomas: The Ready, Set, Go Tour 2016 are on sale now and available by calling Ticketweb toll-free 866-468-7630, or by visiting www.ticketweb.com/dowt. Ticket prices are $19 plus tax for ages 2 and up (service charges and fee may apply).
(Disclosure: I received complimentary passes to facilitate this review. All opinions are 100% mine.)