Warning: If you live with a small, train-obsessed person you may want to obscure the view of the screen you’re looking at, because for a certain crowd, this story contains some explosive imagery. That’s right, the wait is over: Thomas Land is here! We made the trek to the faux Sodor in eastern Massachusetts, and have the scoop on the new theme park. Read on for our review, other attractions nearby and where to eat and stay on your train-tastic pilgrimage.
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photo: Thomas Land
The Depot Deets
Located about a four-hour drive from NYC in Carver, Massachusetts, Thomas Land opened in August and is the only Thomas-themed park in the United States. It’s actually an amusement park inside another amusement park, occupying 11.5 acres inside the existing kid-friendly park Edaville — which just means double the rides and fun.
Visitors are transported to the island of Sodor the minute they walk through the entrance; the Thomas theme song (“They’re two, they’re four, they’re six, they’re eight…”) plays from loudspeakers, and a life-sized fountain of Sir Topham Hatt greets the crowds.
Beyond the main gates, the park is a replica of Thomas’ home base, the Island of Sodor, with familiar destinations like Tidmouth Sheds, Knapford Station, and Brendam Docks where your little engineers can play and pose for photos. But you’re really going to want to have the camera at the ready for the moment when your little engineer sees the real, full-size Thomas chug down the tracks blowing his whistle. As the saying goes: priceless. (Thomas circles the park on a track, and of course, visitors can hop on for a ride.)
The park is currently home to 10 different rides featuring Thomas’ friends, with a few more to open soon. Additionally, Sir Topham Hatt holds meet and greets throughout the day and there are also shows at Tidmouth Shed, so be sure to check the daily schedule when you first enter Thomas Land. Outside of Thomas Land, in the Edaville section of the park, you can find about twenty additional carnival rides, like the tilt-a-whirl, carousel and bumper cars.
photo: Thomas Land
This park knows its audience, and even your tiniest thrill seekers can take a spin on just about every ride, as long as they are accompanied by an adult. But this isn’t to say that these rides don’t pack a punch; you can swing back and forth and whirl in circles on the Rockin’ Bulstrode or bump and spin high above the park on Toby’s Tilting Tracks, to name a few.
More hesitant riders or first timers can take a ride on the Diesel Derby or fly a helicopter on Herold’s Liftoff. Their park even features a few rides just to keep the “older” kids excited too, such as the Runaway Coaster and Cranky’s Crane Drop. (The height requirement is taller on these rides, so the littlest riders won’t be able to hop on with or without an adult.)
photo: Caitlin Dowling
Full Steam Ahead
As if an entire park filled with Thomas and his friends wasn’t enough, your little conductors can then hop on board a narrow-gauge train helmed by a life-sized Thomas the Tank Engine and take a 20 minute scenic ride around the park. Trains typically leave on the hour, but check for the daily schedule at the boarding area. If you happen to visit Thomas Land between Nov. 20th and Dec. 20th, consider going for an evening ride; every Saturday during the holiday season, Edaville decorates Thomas’ path with thousands of lights for an even more magical ride. (FYI, the train is the only place in the park where strollers are not permitted; they can be parked in the boarding area.)
photo: Thomas Land
A Very Thomas Holiday
And as we mentioned earlier, Edaville is known for its holiday celebrations, so if you want to make this a twofer, you can cross Santa and Thomas off your to do list all in one visit. Edaville is transformed into a winter wonderland during the holiday season, complete with Santa’s Village, Polar Express train rides and the newly constructed Dickens Village.
If you get there before the winter season, Santa may not have set up shop yet, but Dinoland is still up and running until the colder months when the giants go into hibernation. (Yep, you heard us right: this park has it all, including 23 life-size animatronics dinosaurs.)
There are plenty of places to grab a quick tasty bite inside the park, from pizza to sandwiches to BBQ. There’s also a sweet shop if you want to give your little ones an extra treat that day. Feel like more of a sit down meal outside of the park but want to stay in town? Swing by Mama Mia’s, a family friendly italian restaurant or Little Red Smokehouse, for some southern BBQ. If the weather is nice, head over to Cabby Shack in Plymouth for waterfront views, live music and delicious seafood. Or, top off the weekend by enjoying a hearty breakfast before hitting the road at Roo Bar in Plymouth. (We suggest the peanut butter and jelly waffles.)
At a Station Near You
If you feel like extending your stay and checking out the area, there’s plenty more to see and do. Thomas Land is less than a half hour drive to the bridge that takes you over the bay to one of Massachusetts’ best vacation spots, Cape Cod. In the warmer months, hop on a whale watch or soak up the sun at the beach. When the weather is cooler, the seafood is still delicious, so grab a bite, hit one of the cute town centers for some shopping and take a walk on the beach.
Plimoth Plantation, a living history museum and home to Plymouth Rock is about 30 minutes away. Go back in time take visiting with pilgrims and climbing aboard a replica of the Mayflower II.
photo: John Carver Inn & Spa
Where to Stay
There are plenty of options for lodging in the area, and many offer package deals for Edaville. If you’re looking for biggest convenience, The Marriott Townhouse Suites is the closest hotel, about 7 miles away, and has an indoor pool and complimentary continental breakfast. If you’re a family of history buffs, consider the John Carver Inn & Spa, located on the site of the original Pilgrim settlement. The hotel boasts an indoor pilgrim theme pool with a 80-foot water slide and waterfalls, and is within walking distance to shops and restaurants. And while this isn’t an option in the colder seasons, if you’re planning your trip for a warmer month, consider adding a little adventure and setting up camp at Pinewood Lodge or Myles Standish State Forest. You can check out the full list of hotels offering Edaville packages here.
Have you visited Thomas Land? Tell us about your visit in the comments below!