Making the Most Out of a Day Out With Thomas the Tank Engine

Posted on: June 27th, 2012 by


Do your kids love Thomas the Train?


Wouldn’t they be thrilled to ride aboard a train pulled by a full-size Thomas the Tank Engine?


Thomas the Tank Engine visits Strasburg Railroad several times a year to offer kids just that.


Last weekend, to kick off our Weekends in Lancaster series my family and I had the pleasure of being Thomas’ guests. We had a great time and seeing the response we got on Facebook to our photos and details, we know many of you are looking forward to your own Days Out With Thomas so we want to help you make the most out of it when you do go.


First there are two types of Day Out With Thomas tickets

  • Regular Tickets

    Regular tickets are $19.00 each for ages 2 and up. They include all the Day Out With Thomas activities listed below plus a 20 minute ride aboard a train pulled by a full-size Thomas the Tank Engine. On this nonstop train ride the train will go down the track to a designated point, then stop and come back. When you buy a ticket for this train you are assigned a specific time.

  • Combo Tickets

    Combo tickets are $27.00 each for ages 3 and up. They include all the Day Out With Thomas activities listed above. You will also receive a ticket to ride aboard a regular Strasburg Rail Road train. These rides

    • are about 45 minutes in length.
    • run throughout the day, so you are welcome to catch any train.
    • make stops along the way. For example, you can get off at the picnic grove, have lunch, and then take the train back to the station.
    • about halfway through the ride, the train does stop for a few minutes to be attached to another engine that will bring it back into the station.

Day Out With Thomas train conductors are young and old, and all with smiles. |Photo Credit Jersey Family Fun


Which Day Out With Thomas ticket should you buy?

That depends on your needs and interests.  If you just want the experience of riding Thomas and want to visit other train-related attractions in the area a regular ticket will be fine.  As we will show you throughout this week the Choo Choo Barn and the National Toy Train Museum will make great places to visit to continue your kid’s excitement about trains. Many offer discounts for Thomas the Train ticket holders. If you have older children or want to give the kids a great way to burn off energy, you’ll want to visit Cherry Crest Adventure Farm.

If the love of trains runs from the youngest to the older members of the family, enjoy the combo tickets. Then, take a walk across the street to visit the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.


What’s included in your Day Out With Thomas tickets (both ticket types)

  • Underneath tents as you approach the Strasburg Railroad
    • Listen to stories
    • Watch a movie
    • Choose from several temporary tattoos

    • Play at tables with different types of trains and tracks
    • Build with Mega Bloks
    • Color Thomas the Train coloring packets (4 page activity booklets are given to the kids for FREE. Although we suggest bringing a small pack of crayons because we didn’t see any available.)
  • Photos with Sir Topham Hatt around the station. Listen for announcements of where he will be.
  • Photo backdrops are located throughout the station so you can get some cute pictures of your kids.

Yep, my kids don’t always cooperate for pictures either. ;-) |Photo Credit Jersey Family Fun

  • On the Station side you can ride or pump any of these cars
      • Cranky Car Rides – hand-propelled cars, which date back to the 1930s, allow kids to crank their way around a track.

      • Cagney Rides – Built around 1920, ride a miniature steam train that was originally used at an amusement park.

    Riding Cagney the Miniature Train |Photo Credit Jersey Family Fun

      • Track Car Rides
      • LO&S (motor car) Rides
      • Pump Car Rides – Moms, dads, & some kids can pump a vintage Pump Car – with an attendant – along a short track. Younger kids, who don’t meet the height requirement to pump can stand on the cart. (Due to safety regulations, passengers must measure 48″ to the chin)




What’s not included in your Day Out With Thomas tickets (both ticket types)

  • Professional prints of your Day Out With Thomas –  Aboard the trains photographers will take your picture. There will also be an opportunity to have your picture taken with Thomas the Tank Engine when he is in the station. You can use your own camera or have their photographers take your family’s picture. Prints are available for purchase about 30 minutes later. There is no obligation to purchase any of the pictures that Thomas photographers take. Prices start at $16 for a 5×7 photo. You can add the ability to digitally download your pictures for an additional fee.

This is the professional picture taken by Thomas the Train staff.

  • Meals – You can purchase meals and snacks from the Trackside Cafe or area tents. Read our review of the Trackside Cafe in our What’s Cooking Wednesday series.
  • Toys & Merchandise – There are tents and stores where you can purchase Thomas the Train and other train merchandise at a variety of prices.


Our Tips For Your Day Out With Thomas

  • Purchase your tickets in advance. Seating aboard the train is limited so it’s best to buy your tickets ahead of time.
  • Arrive early for the best parking- Parking is FREE and is available at a field at the Strasburg Railroad. As the day goes on, the lot may fill. Additional parking is available at off-site lots and visitors will be shuttled in by school buses.
  • Schedule your visit towards the end of Thomas’ visit. – When Thomas the Train visits Strasburg Rail Road he usually stays 3 – 8 days. While you can expect to see crowds any day of this stay, the crowds are usually lighter towards the final days.
  • Pack sunscreen as most activities are outside and not blocked from the sun. Boarding for Thomas the Train begins 30-45 minutes before the train departure so that is a considerable amount of time to be outside. Sunburned kids and husbands don’t make for happy companions.
  • Consider your stroller- Strollers are not permitted aboard the train. If you bring a stroller make sure you are comfortable leaving it behind while you ride the train.
  • Pictures with Thomas – Thomas the Tank Engine is available for pictures for about 20 minutes at a time between his departures and arrivals. You can get in line for your family picture with him at the far end of the station. 2 -3 families will pose in front of Thomas at the same time. The photographers are nice but they will move you through quickly. Be prepared and respectful of those waiting in line after you. After all, imagine how you might feel if you waited in line for 20 minutes and then missed your chance because Thomas has to leave.
  • To save on food costs, consider packing snacks and beverages. They will not be allowed on the train, but you can have them as you participate in the other activities.


Day Out With Thomas 2012 Schedule

  • September 15-23, 2012.
  • November 16-18, 2012


Day Out With Thomas Remaining Schedule for 2015

  • Sept. 12, 2015-Sept. 20, 2015
  • Nov. 20, 2015-Nov. 22, 2015
  • Call 866-468-7630 for more information about 2016 dates


View more of our Day Out With Thomas pictures in our Facebook Gallery.


Click over to see the rest of our Family Travel to Lancaster series.

Visit Lancaster

In full disclosure, this post was sponsored in part by Strasburg Rail Road and Day Out With Thomas who provided us with some regular tickets  to enjoy Day Out With Thomas activities and a meal at the Trackside Cafe to make our articles possible. We were responsible for our own travel and lodging costs. As always our opinions are honest and our own and based on our experiences at Strasburg Railroad.

Posted in: All, Family Vacation Ideas

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Jennifer Auer is the hyperlocal mom blogger who runs Jersey Family Fun. From New Jersey, this mom of 3 boys just can’t sit still! Her husband likes to say she’s a work-at-home mom who never stays home. Jennifer started traveling as a child and hasn’t stopped since. Instead of letting her husband and boys slow her down, she brings them along! As her boys transition from tweens to teens there’s still so many places she wants to discover with them both across the U.S. and internationally. She has been a Jersey Girl for 35+ years, and a Jersey Mom for 15+ years and a New Jersey mom blogger for 10 years, although she'd much rather be referred to as an influencer or just by name. She has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a focus on Entrepreneurship from Bryant University in Rhode Island.

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