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Friday, April 15, 2016

a summer adventure - Thomas Land by Mo Boston!

Thank you to Mo Boston for sharing her fun trip to Edaville Thomas Land in Massachusetts last summer. A great place for some train-obsessed littles to see their favorites up close and personal! I totally want to go here now!

Thanks for your good tips, Mo!

Images shared from Mo Boston

1. When did you go to Edaville Thomas Land? Who went with you?
I went to Edaville Thomas Land on August 14th last summer with my husband and two sons, Jimmy (4) and Charlie (21 months). It is a great small amusement park in Carver, MA with three sections: Edaville, Dino Land, and Thomas Land. Edaville is the original section. It has 10 or so rides with eating areas and the big station to catch a ride on Thomas. Dino Land is basically a path through the woods with robot dinosaurs that move and make noises. And Thomas Land, the new main attraction, has an additional 10 or so Thomas-themed rides, Tidmouth Sheds, a gift shop, and a cafe. The Thomas section is designed to look like the show with a British theme.
2. What did you do beforehand to prepare for the trip? How far in advance did you save money?
I found out about the plans for Thomas Land awhile ago and knew I would want to bring my boys before their Thomas-obsession waned. Then last March, my aunt told me they were planning a 90th birthday for my dear, great-aunt Kay in Rockland, MA, about a half an hour from Edaville. I pretty quickly came up with the idea of going to Thomas Land the day before the party.
In June, I started looking into hotels and had the hardest time deciding what to do. It is kind of in the middle of nowhere. There aren't a lot of close hotel options. Plymouth is nearby but expensive in the summer. Other hotels had bad online reviews. I ultimately decided to use Priceline and let them pick a hotel for me. We ended up at the Holiday Inn in Taunton. It was a nice hotel. Clean, friendly staff, indoor pool, mini fridge in the room. It was just what we needed. It took just under 30 minutes to get to Edaville from there which was fine for us.
The same day I booked the hotel, I booked tickets for Edaville online. My husband thought I was over-planning. But, it turned out, early planning saved our trip! At that time, the park was scheduled to open 8/7. But, a few weeks later they pushed the open day to 8/15, the day after we were supposed to go!!! I panicked, non-refundable hotel! It turned out 8/14 was a sneak peek VIP day and they would honor our tickets. If I hadn't bought the tickets early, we wouldn't have been able to go that day. Three cheers for over-planning!
We didn't necessarily save for the trip. We are lucky that my parents have a year-round camp and we have other family with vacation homes so we get to go away a lot without having to pay for a place to stay. It's been three years since we stayed in a hotel so we just decided to do it. I did split the cost up by paying for the tickets and the hotel in June and the gas, food, and extras in August.
3. How much did your trip cost, including hotel, park visits, food, etc. (try breaking it down as much as you remember for us... $$ on hotel, for example, etc.)?
The park tickets were $29 x 3 = $87 (2 & under are free.)
Our hotel was $142/ night.
We drove and managed the whole weekend on one tank of gas.
We ate four meals out. We left after dinner Thursday, brought our lunch to the park Friday, and ate at the birthday party Saturday. So, we paid for breakfast at the hotel both days for $25 with tip and tax. (Am I the only one who feels like they are committing some sort of scam when their kids eat free at a breakfast buffet??? I think they eat more than my husband.) We had dinner at a moderately priced Italian restaurant where the food was decent. But, it was overall great because it was loud and we were TIRED. They were totally unphased when Charlie spilled an entire glass of milk and Jimmy climbed under the table all while we were trying to order. (plus they were GREAT about food allergies. The manager brought Charlie's meal out personally from the kitchen.) Our last meal out was our go-to and cheap: Chipotle. It is always a big hit with my kids and was an easy stop on the way home.

4. Where did you start researching for this trip? Any helpful Web sites, you used, etc.?
I kept checking the Edaville Facebook for updates. Their website is which also has lots of information. At the time, it hadn't even opened so there wasn't a lot out there. 5. Did you receive any special discounts, coupons, or have some secret tips to share about saving money?
Unfortunately, no. We did really luck out by getting to go to the VIP day. The parking lot was less than 1/4 full and there were no lines! But obviously that can't be replicated. I do like Priceline for hotels. Our price was $40 less per night than if we had booked through Holiday Inn's website.
6. Best places to eat, stay, visit, etc.? Things you encourage families with kids MUST do while in that area?
I would recommend our hotel if you are looking to save money off the Plymouth summer rates. We had a few hours the next morning before the birthday party and went to the Capron Park Zoo in Attleboro. It was great! It's a small zoo but they have cool exhibits, including lions and a leopard. They also have a great splash pad and there is a big public playground right outside the zoo. I don't remember the price break down but it was $19 for the four of us.
7. Did you eat there, pack lunches, leave at a certain time and go back, etc.?
We brought our lunch. My youngest is allergic to peanuts and all of their concessions have peanut products. The only thing we bought was water and we bought a lot of water because it was sunny and almost 90 degrees. $3 per bottle. So, I suspect the rest of the food might be priced in a typical way for a small amusement park. It seemed like they had a lot of options. I saw a bunch of people eating fruit salad and yogurt. There were a few snack stands, a main Edaville counter service place, a separate BBQ place and a place to eat in Thomas Land.
There is no readmission once you leave so we showed up at 10:30 and stayed for the day. I think it was 4:00 by the time we left. My youngest still naps. So around 1:00 we left my husband and oldest to ride rides and I took him for a walk in the stroller through Dino Land. Here's the thing about Dino Land: if you paid money to get into Dino Land, you'd want it back. It's robot Dinosaurs that move, a little, and periodically shriek. Seriously. And it's not like they're to scale or anything. But, it is a shaded path through the woods and 10 minutes in Charlie was asleep. I then walked across the park to a quiet spot (just beyond a rope that I'm guessing was supposed to stop me from going there) and sat on a curb while he slept for an hour in the shade. Totally successful. (They should actually have designated napping areas at places like that. A bench in the shade and a "shhhh" sign would be sufficient!)
8. What is your best advice for visiting Edaville Thomas Land... pack ___ in a backpack? wear swim clothes? go in afternoon and go back the next day? etc.?
There is very little shade so in nice weather prepare for sun, hats, sunscreen, etc.
There were no water rides or activities so swim suits were unnecessary. But check up on that, because it looked like they were building some new rides!
It is really in the middle of no where so don't plan on stopping for anything when you get there.
There is a decent sized (air conditioned!) Thomas store with lots of fun merchandised and some train tables set up if you just want to take a break and play.
9. Top 3 tips for spending the day at an amusement park with your children?
1. Don't have an agenda. You are there to have fun as a family so if you ride the roller coaster 10 times and never make it on the helicopters but everyone is happy at the end of the day, it was a successful day.
2. Bring a lunch if you can. It is quick to not have to wait in lines and you know your kids will eat it. But bring ice packs. I tried plastic bags and hotel ice. Not that successful. Luckily, the kids didn't notice me throwing away the soggy parts of their sandwiches...
3. Ride as many rides with them as you can! I loved hearing my four year old's giggles on the fast rides. At one point he said, "Mummy, are you laughing or crying???"
10. What would you do differently if you went again on this trip?
If we go back, I'll definitely wait until it is 100% open. There is an elevated train ride that was not open and they are building a huge climbing space and some sort of log flume type ride. I also wouldn't rush to the Thomas Land section. I think because it's the main attraction everyone went straight there. When they opened, it was a little chaotic. We ended up going back to Edaville and then making our way to the Thomas section and by then things had really calmed down.
11. How old were your kids when they went on this trip, and do you think they got a lot out of it, remember it, etc.? Was it a good age span to go to this amusement park?
They were four and one (almost two). They loved it. I'm sure Charlie won't remember but they had a great time. There was only one ride Jimmy could not go on and most of the rides Charlie could ride with an adult.
12. Misconceptions: Something you think people don't know or are confused by when making plans to visit Edaville Thomas Land that you learned from?
It's not the same as "Day Out with Thomas," although that is fun in its own right. This is a permanent park with a 20 minute Thomas ride plus so much more! At the same time, it is not Disney World. I noticed on the Facebook page people posting about flying to see Thomas Land. I don't know if I'd say it was worth it. It doesn't take more than a day to see everything. But, if you are traveling to the Boston area anyway or can do it in a short trip, I highly recommend it!

13. Best part about Edaville Thomas Land? What did your kids LOVE? What was your favorite part?
My kids loved seeing the trains. At Tidmouth Sheds, you can climb in Percy and pretend to drive. And the trains talk to you! I liked the ride on Thomas. There was a lovely breeze and it was great to sit and relax for a few minutes.
14. Anything else you want to add?
I was so surprised how excited the kids were to stay in a hotel and how well it went. We actually slept! We brought a bed rail from home. So, I slept in one bed with my 1 year-old and my husband slept in the other with my four year-old. There was a pool, a gym, and even a kids playroom with toys!

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