Riding Thomas the Tank Engine in Eustis, Florida

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My 4 year old son is crazy about trains. He builds tracks around the house- under the furniture and up over blocks for double levels. He wants to be a train conductor (I was thinking architect), but I just read in a magazine that a train conductor makes more than most other careers- so you go boy! Well, Thomas the Tank Engine was due in Eustis, FL this week, and last year I shrugged off my duties, thinking it was going to be Thomas in your face commercialism.This year,my husband and I packed the kids into the car and drove to see Thomas at Wooten Park in Eustis . I was pleasantly surprised.

It was $17 each (OUCH!) to ride the big blue engine for a whooping 25 minutes- yes, we shelled out the cash- got to ride in the bubble car, which the kids loved, especially when the branches hit the domed roof, but even if we had not rode the train, there was plenty of other things to do- free stuff. The Thomas paraphernalia was tucked away in a big white unmarked tent, and surprisingly, my son didn’t fall into the “I want” phrase. There were tracks to set up and trains to push in one area, stamps and Thomas coloring pages in another, a tent with a bubble blower for the kids to play in, a bouncy castle and slide (ALL FREE- you didn’t even have to show a train ride ticket or anything!) Sir Topham Hat was supposably roaming around for the kids to meet, but we didn’t see him. I suspected he was off fishing on the lake with Lady Hat. There were hay bales for the kids to roll in, a live music band, which belted out the Hokey Pokey, among others, which my daughter bee-bopped to- and did I mention the wooden kids playground? That came with the park and I have never seen so many parents playing with their kids on a playground. My husband and I have been so many places that we have been nickled and dimed, that this was a refreshing change.

We left tired and happy, and both kids fell asleep on the drive home. Of course, when Logan awoke, his first words were: “When we go back and see Thomas…..” Uh, maybe next year.

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