My boy Leo loves Thomas the Tank. If you have read my blog before or if you know my family in the non-blog world then you will know just how much my boy adores that little blue steam engine. In December we took Leo to Thomas Land in Drayton Manor as an early Christmas present and he loved it. Unfortunately, it is quite a drive for us to visit Thomas Land so when I saw Thomas and his friends were coming to play at the steam railway just 10 minutes from our front door, I just had to book tickets.
The Day out with Thomas fun days run at 21 different railways across the UK and over the May bank holiday Thomas, Henry, Gordon and The Fat Controller came to visit Eastleigh Lakeside Railway. The in laws were visiting for the bank holiday and I knew this would be the perfect way for us to spend the holiday. I pre booked the tickets online (£15 for an adult and £12 for a child – under 2’s go free), told Leo all about our plans and we all eagerly waited for Monday to arrive.
Leo woke up bright and early on Monday and was super excited for his day out with Thomas, it had been months since he last saw him at Thomas Land and he couldn’t wait to meet his hero again. The fun day started at 10am but, being me, we obviously didn’t arrive until about 11! Oli had an emergency at work so unfortunately he couldn’t come along for all the train themed fun and games, Leo wasn’t too upset as he was just dying to do some serious train riding.
When we arrived we picked up our tickets which took no time at all. It was busy but as we had pre booked and were a little late arriving it took no time for us to get our train tickets and Thomas stickers sorted. Once on the platform we saw The Fat Controller, Leo wasted no time in going to say hello and The Fat Controller was so lovely telling Leo all about the engines that had come to play for the day. There was a man making different things out of balloons so we got Leo a train balloon, of course, and hopped straight on Henry for our first of many rides of the day.
Eastleigh railway is a miniature steam rail so instead of being on a proper train the engines and carriages were very small, similar to the types of trains you get at adventure farms and theme parks. I think this is better for toddlers and small children though as everything is a perfect fit for them – us grown ups were a tiny bit squashed but we didn’t mind. Leo loved chugging around the track on Henry and looking out of the window. The train had to go through quite a long, dark tunnel but this didn’t phase Leo at all, he loved every second.
When we got back to the station we headed over to the grass area where lots of different things seemed to be going on. There was a magic show in one of the marquees and in another was the Imagination Corner. This was a little tent full of fun Thomas themed activities: colouring in, dressing up, puzzles and a little toy track to play on. Leo had his first strop of the day when he wanted to play with the track but he didn’t have a train; it turns out if you wanted to play you had to either wait for the ONE train provided or go and buy your own from the gift shop. This was pretty annoying as Leo really wanted to play but we managed to distract him when we saw Thomas driving into the station.
After another 15 minute ride around the track, this time on the number 1 engine himself, it was time to sit and eat our picnic. As usual, the British weather let us down and it was pretty chilly – we had all dressed for a warm day as well, ahh! There was space in one of the marquees so we sat and ate our food in there. Leo was in a much better mood now, just in time for one of the activities that was starting. Thomas had pulled in off the main track and the children were given the chance to fill him up with water. Leo loved tipping his bucket full of water in to Thomas’s engine, with The Fat Controller giving him a bit of a helping hand too.
In no time at all we were back on the train as Leo wanted to go and play in the playground. We rode on Gordon this time and Leo didn’t seem to get bored at all of going up and down the same old track. We got off at the half way stop this time and Leo went and burnt off some steam in the park.
Once Leo had gone up and down the slide about a million times, we hitched a ride back to the station on Henry. When we got back The Fat Controller was reading stories in the marquee. Story time had already started but my boy isn’t shy, Leo stepped past all the children sitting nicely on the floor and went and stood right next to The Fat Controller while he was reading the story! Leo stayed there the whole time and in the end all the other kids had joined him at The Fat Controllers side. After story time we got a certificate for Leo from the Imagination Corner and The Fat Controller signed it for him, his very first autograph!
We went back to the Imagination Corner for a bit but there was still lots of drama going on surrounding the toy train situation (I can’t stress how frustrating this was!). After another mini meltdown from Leo we managed to coax him back to the other marquee where a magic show was about to begin. Leo loved the show, the magician was perfect for kids of around his age (the older ones were too smart and figured out the tricks), there was lots of train talk, wand swishing and funny spells. Leo sat on my knee for the whole show, said the spells and clapped along at the end. This was the last event of the day, there was a Punch and Judy show earlier but we missed it.
It was nearly 4pm by this point so we headed off to the gift shop as Leo’s lovely grandparents and his uncle wanted to buy him some Thomas Toys. The spoilt boy got a James and Gordon engine as well a Tidmouth Sheds toy set that came with some track and another Thomas engine to add to his collection.
Before we left we managed to squeeze in one last ride on the little engine called Sir Arthur. We whizzed around the track for the last time, said good bye to Thomas and his friends and headed back to the car with one very happy but extremely tired little Thomas fan.
If you have a little one in the family who loves Thomas the Tank, I really can’t recommend a Day out with Thomas enough. There is much more going on than I expected and watching your little one meeting one of their television heroes really is magical. I did think it was a little pricey but if you make the most of what is on offer then it really is money well spent. If you want to get more of an idea of what a Day out with Thomas is like, I made this short video of our day.
Have you ever been on a Day out with Thomas? Did you and your family enjoy it? Have you been thinking about booking tickets but not been sure if it’s worth it? I hope this post has convinced you to go, it really is a fabulous family day out.
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