I was lucky enough to be asked back as a “Mommy Reporter” at Day Out with Thomas at the Tennessee Valley Railroad in Chattanooga, TN. Last year was our first year to attend and we had a blast! We were actually quite surprise at just how large the event was last year so we made plans to go earlier this year to give ourselves more time. Bryson was so excited about it and Justin and I couldn’t wait to see his face light up when we got there.
And light up, they did. We arrived and the weather was beautiful. The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum has several trains to look at, go in, etc. We were there for Thomas so we didn’t go in any of them this time but I would love to go back and do that one day. Everything was set up like last year and we felt more prepared to enjoy all of the different exhibits, petting zoo, etc. You really should set aside a few hours to take everything in at Day Out with Thomas because the event has a lot to offer! Before you even park your car, a friendly staff member asks if you’ve been before, gives you a map, a menu, and all of the information you could possibly need.
Our first stop was the Imagination Station, something we missed last year.. and maybe should have missed this year. (LOL) Bryson’s entire face lit up when he spotted the huge train table available for the kids. He LOVES those trains and didn’t want to leave them. It was an almost identical situation to his 3rd birthday when we took him to the Discovery Museum. He only wanted to play with the trains even though there was so much to see and do. They were tables set up for building Mega Bloks, coloring, and stamping. My husband got himself a temporary Thomas tattoo, but we couldn’t pull Bryson away from the trains to get one. Justin is the biggest kid of all, it seems.
Let me tell you, it was hard to pull that cute face and those sparkling eyes away from the train table, but we did. He was quite unwilling, but we managed. We made sure to visit each location so we could collect all 4 stamps on our map and get a prize before leaving. After the Imagination Station, we went to the petting zoo. It was one of Bryson’s favorite parts last and was Bella’s favorite this year. Goats, llamas, turkeys, ducks, and even a donkey- she chased them all down to pet them.
Next we got our photo made with Sir Topham Hatt and made sure to get our map stamped. We headed inside for storytelling and video-viewing (another map-stamp location) after that. Justin and I were thankful for a small break to cool down. When Thomas went off, the entire room clapped along to the beat, the kids were dancing, and Bryson was having so much fun. He danced the entire way out of the room, down the stairs, and back outside. Justin and I were laughing so hard- it was adorable.
By then, it was time for what we thought would be the highlight of the day for Bryson- a ride of Thomas. We went to the boarding area and thankfully, the event is very organized and it’s easy to find the car number you need. By this time, Bryson is back to whining about the “little trains” as he calls them. Bella, on the other hand, loved the train ride. She was so content and happy, smiling and jabbering with other passengers. The ride lasts about 25 minutes and is very comfortable. I love that they don’t pack the cars full so there is plenty of room for everyone and it doesn’t feel crowded.
And this is where the hard parent part comes in. Bryson acted horribly on the train ride, to the point where we realized we had to leave when the ride was over. Our entire family looked forward to the event and as disappointing as it was to leave, Bryson’s behavior was even more disappointing. So instead of going back to the train tables, we grabbed his prize and left. It was such a hard decision because Thomas only comes once a year, but I think it will stick with Bryson that you have to act nicely to get what you want. Bad behavior won’t be rewarded. When we arrived home, I asked him if he knew why we left and he said “Because I was being a whiny boy.” which made me feel good about our decision to stand firm. He got it, he took it to heart, and maybe he learned from it.
I was able to snap a couple photos of him where he doesn’t look so upset. Most of them were full of tears and tired faces. Three is such a tough age. Even so, we plan on going back next year, and the year after that, and so on. It’s a great family-friendly event and it really is for kids of all ages. I hope next year goes a little more smoothly for us, but either way, I’m thankful for the opportunity to take my children to such a fabulous event!
If you are local, Thomas is still in town! He’s here this weekend and next Saturday. You can check availability and order tickets online.