Day out with Thomas at Tweetsie Railroad

For years, our kids, who are now all adults, were Thomas the Tank Engine obsessed.  We had taken them to a number of Thomas events around the east coast over the years.  

Visiting a Day out with Thomas at Tweetsie  was a ton of fun for us, if not a bit nostalgic.  Out of all the Thomas events we've attended over the years, this one was our favorite and our first Day Out With Thomas event at Tweetsie Railroad, located in Blowing Rock NC.

In this guide, we'll tell you all about our visit, share some photos and even a video of our adventures.   Day Out With Thomas is an annual event at Tweetsie each year, and is wonderful family fun for everyone.

Disclosure: We are part of the Tweetsie Railroad Enthusiasts Program, and tickets were provided to us for our visit by Tweetsie Railroad; however, all opinions and information are our own and we were not asked in anyway to influence our review/article.

A Day out with Thomas at Tweetsie Railroad

Day Out With Thomas Tweetsie Railroad

Day Out with Thomas is an annual event by Tweetsie Railroad in Blowing Rock NC, where children, their families, and friends can ride behind Thomas the Tank Engine around the Tweetsie Railroad Amusement park, participate in various Thomas activities, and just enjoy the park as well.

While there, you can also visit with Sir Topham Hatt, and get your photo taken!   Tweetsie also has a number of other Thomas & Friends themed activities and merchandise for sale as well.

We visited Day Out with Thomas recently, and had a great time, even without bringing any kids!

When is a Day Out with Thomas

Day Out with Thomas occurs annually at Tweetsie Railroad in June.  

The event is now passed for 2022, but occurred on:

  • June 10-13
  • June 16-19

Tickets for this event sell-out pretty quickly, so you'll want to book them as soon as the new dates are announced on their website at the beginning of the year.

Tickets to Day Out with Thomas

Tickets for Day out with Thomas can be purchased online on the Tweetsie website a few weeks prior to the event.

We highly recommend pre-purchasing your tickets and reserving your train ride time in advance.  This will allow you to get tickets to this very popular event AND get the ride time that works best for you.

If you are a season pass holder, you'll be allowed to get tickets prior to non-season pass holders and the tickets are included with your season passes.

2022 Ticket prices were:

  • $58 for adults (age 13 and older)
  • $39 for children (age 3-12)
  • free for ages two and under.

Tickets include full admission to the park, access to exclusive Day out with Thomas activities, one ride behind Thomas around the park, and includes a special event during the train ride.

Special Events for a Day out with Thomas at Tweetsie Railroad

Day Out With Thomas Tweetsie Railroad

For Day Out With Thomas, Tweetsie has a number of special themed activities.  These include:

  • A ride behind Thomas around the park, with a special stop to where you help Thomas and "the law" catch the red shirt bandits!  Only one ride per ticket.
  • Various Thomas themed attractions, including Percy and other engines from the TV Show.
  • Pictures and a visit with Sir Topham Hat, and a fun themed play area for kids
  • Access to lots of Thomas & Friends merchandise and clothing items.

Our video from a Day out with Thomas at Tweetsie Railroad

Our visit to a Day Out with Thomas at Tweetsie

Day Out With Thomas Tweetsie Railroad

We drove about 2.5 hours from Maggie Valley NC and stayed for the night at Mountainaire Inn & Log Cabins in downtown blowing rock for the night.    We enjoyed dinner at the Speckled Trout, explored downtown Blowing Rock NC a little, then called it a night to get up early for a Day Out With Thomas.

Attending were just Jenn and I (Larry).  All of our kids are grown adults now, and we're still waiting on grandchildren, but even without younger kids, we were still excited about going.

We arrived around 9am on a Friday in June (to avoid the weekend crowds) at Tweetsie Railroad to get a good parking place, and have time to get our camera gear ready.  Tweetsie doesn't open until 10:00am, which many families were not aware of.

We were on the first train ride of the day (10:30am), and wanted to get into the park early to see Thomas pull into the station for the first ride.  We were literally the first ones in line that day, and over the course of the next hour, lots of families arrived, and everyone was excited to see Thomas!

Season Pass Holder Tip: If you book your Train ride times by calling Tweetsie, your tickets will be available at "will-call" - Fortunately I talked to some of the staff a bit that morning and learned this.   

The gates opened at exactly 10:00am, we entered, and got in line at Car #4 for our train-ride.  The buzz and excitement was all around us, as kids and families anxiously awaited for Thomas to show up.

All Aboard Thomas

Thomas the Tank Engine at Tweetsie Railroad

Of course the highlight of the visit is seeing Thomas and getting to ride on the train behind him.  

At around 10:15am, we heard the train bell, and soon enough, Thomas the Tank Engine appeared down the tracks from around the engine shop, whistle blowing away.   The excitement in the air for the kids was explosive.  We heard tons of kids calling "Thomas" and "Hi Thomas!".  

Thomas the Tank Engine

Thomas looked amazing, and even talked!    My wife and I, in our minds, went back 20+ years ago when we saw Thomas for the first time with out kids when they were young in Spencer North Carolina.

What is really neat about Thomas is that his eyes and mouth move, showing various facial expressions.  The kids and families loved this, and frankly so did we.  The animated facial expressions and eye movement really make him seem alive.

Tweetsie Steam Engine #12 was just behind Thomas, and looks very much like Emily from Thomas and Friends.

The Train Ride Behind Thomas

Thomas the Tank Engine at Tweetsie Railroad

Once Thomas pulled the train up to the station and to the loading areas, we had to wait just a few minutes for our guides to open the doors, check tickets, and let us onto our cars.  We choose car #4.  

Tweetsie Pro-Tip: Cars #3 and #4 provide the best views of the show you see during the train ride, and you'll want to sit on the right side of the train for the best views as well.

While you're waiting, the crew, dressed up in old-west themed clothes, takes photos with visitors, and provides entertainment, that is pretty funny and makes your pass by pretty quickly.

We were the first to board for our car, and found two seats just a little back from the front, on the right hand side so we could get some good video of the ride for you (see our video above).

Ringo, our car cowboy and guide, went through the car after everyone was seated, and explained that the train would be leaving shortly and reviewed the safety rules.  He was dressed as a cowboy, but mysteriously in a red shirt ... hmmm.  

The engine bell began to ring, the whistle blew, and we were off! 

We headed out through Tweetsie Junction, waving at all the guests and staff, then headed across  Deadhorse Gultch and Trestle and into "untamed wild".

As we rode along the historic tracks, we passed through some beautiful forest, and saw lots of "frontier" scenes, including a mine, some moonshining, Buffalo, and a small western town (see our video above).

As we approached Fort Boone, the engineer and Thomas sensed something was up, so of course we stopped to check it out ...

Fort Boone at Tweetsie Railroad

For those of you familiar with Tweetsie, Fort Boone is where the traditional wild west show takes place.  For Day Out with Thomas, Tweetsie changes the show up a bit.    

Seems the "red shirt bandits" had taken over the fort and were causing some trouble.   With the help of Thomas and the kids on the train, "the law" were able to "round up them their bandits", and make Fort Boone safe again!  

There is no gun fire in this Thomas specific show, and Thomas plays a big part in helping to round up the bandits.   So the show is far more tailored to younger kids.

We continued our ride around the park, pausing for a few minutes due to a tree that had fallen across the tracks.   We wondered if this was just part of the show, but found out there really was a tree across the tracks.   

The views from the train during the ride are beautiful.   Since all of the cars at Tweetsie are open air, you do need to expect some coal cinders to get on you, and possibly in your eyes.   Wearing glasses and/or a hat really helps.

Before we knew it, our 20 minute train ride wrapped up.  We appeared out the forest and back towards the front the park.  Our guides began preparing us for stopping at the station.  Once the train stops, and rolls backwards a little (the tension on the couplers releases), you'll depart the train by heading to the back of your car.

Photos of Thomas

Day Out With Thomas at Tweetsie Railroad

After your train ride, you can walk up to the front of the train, and it's a great time to get photos of your kids and family with Thomas and the Tweetsie steam engines.   The Tweetsie steam engines are very historic, and you can read more about their history in our Tweetsie Travel Guide.

There are two great photo spots, one is right in front of Thomas near the tracks, and the other is a small observation platform just past the tracks.  Both offer exceptional photo locations for Thomas and the train in general.

Prior to the departure of the train, the engineers really put on a good show, blowing the whistle and steaming the train up.   You can get some excellent photos during this time.

Visit Sir Topham Hatt

Sir Topham Hatt at Tweetsie Railroad

As part of your visit to Day Out With Thomas, your family can visit with Sir Topham Hatt, and get photos taken.    Sir Topham Hatt is located over in the picnic and special events area, on the west side of the park.  

A special tent is set-up for him, and there are lots of children's activities available in the tent as well.  They even give out water-based tattoos and prizes for kids that visit all of the various stations.  There area a couple of additional photo-ops set-up as well.

Sir Topham Hatt is available for about 30 minutes, each hour.   The line is longer in the morning than in the afternoon, so you might want to save this visit for later in the day.

We spent about 1-2 hours doing the train ride and visiting all of the Thomas related activities.  We did skip the gift shops, and the Thomas related merchandise.  I'm sure we could have spent a good amount of time doing this as well, had we had children with us.

On a positive note, one would expect the prices of Thomas merchandise to be much higher at Tweetsie, but that was not the case at all.  What little we did look at was very reasonably priced, and inline with what you would expect to find on Amazon or at a local retailer.   Just another reason to love the folks at Tweetsie.

Visiting the Rest of Tweetsie Railroad

After riding Thomas and visiting with Sir Topham Hatt, we grabbed some food at the Feed and Seed Restaurant, which provides great views of the park, the train station, and good food as well.  The staff were awesome, and very friendly - Just another great thing about Tweetsie, we love the staff.

Tweetsie Pro-Tip: Get food while the train is out of the station, this cuts back on the number of people in line for food.  Avoid getting food just after the train arrives.

Park restaurants serve standard amusement park fair.   We found it reasonably priced and good, not great, but not bad either.  Again, what you would expect, and they do offer a good variety of options as well.  As you can see below, we got some pizza, hot dogs, and nachos with some ice cold cokes.

Feed & Seed at Tweetsie Railroad
Food at Tweetsie Railroad

From the Feed and Seed, with full bellies, we headed out to explore the remainder of the park.   Our first visit to Tweetsie was in 2021 during their Tweetsie Christmas event.    During Christmas, the whole park isn't open, so we didn't get to explore it.   

During Day Out with Thomas, the whole park is open, so it was our chance to do a little exploring and see what Tweetsie has to offer!   I know know, shame on us for waiting so many years to visit.  

We caught the chair lifts up to Miner's Mountain.   If you are unable or unwilling to ride the chair lift, there is a bus you can take up to Miner's Mountain from Tweetsie Palace.  You can also walk up as well using the trail behind County Fair.

Miner's Mountain

At Miner's Mountain, we headed up on top of the chair lift station for some incredible views of the park, then proceeded into Miner's Mountain.  The first ride we saw was Mouse Mine Train, which was VERY popular based on the long time.   

We skipped the rides here, as they were more intended for families with small children, but we did explore the Gem Mine and Deer Park Zoo, which we really enjoyed.

Deer Park Zoo Tweetsie Railroad

Deer Park Zoo is a large petting zoo, where you can interact with and feed the various animals.  We saw: Deer, Lamas, Goats, Emus, miniature Horses, and Donkeys.  All very friendly and very used to people.  This was one of our favorite attractions and the animals are so much fun.

You purchase feed for 50 cents, and it comes in a small ice-cream cone.  Definitely worth it, get one for everyone.  We got a few for each of us.  If you want to buy more, there is an "honor-cone" section in the middle of the zoo where you can get more food.

After visiting with the animals, we grabbed some drinks from the vending machines, and headed back down the chair lift to visit the County Fair area of the park.

County Fair

The County Fair section of the park is exactly what you would expect, a county fair.   There is an arcade with a number of fair related rides, including a ferris wheel, Carousel, Tilt-a-whirl, free-fall, and more.   

We rode the Ferris Wheel which was fun, but a bit of a stretch for me, being a bit afraid of heights.  What didn't help was the clear view of the real graveyard that sits on the Tweetsie property, and pre-dates the park.   

Graveyard at Tweetsie Railroad

A bit creepy right?   The graveyard is owned by the church next door and the park was built around it.

Wrapping Up

We really enjoyed our visit to Tweetsie Railroad for Day Out with Thomas.  We had a great time, just us two adults with no kids, but probably wouldn't visit again without smaller children with us.  The event, as you would expect, is really focused on kids under 10 or so.   Teenagers and adults without kids will most likely not be as thrilled or have as much fun.   Being a huge train fan, I'm probably the exception.

We will definitely be back to Tweetsie Railroad soon, as they have a number of great events throughout the year, and is frankly just a fun place to visit!

About the author

Larry Deane is co-owner of Blue Ridge Mountain Life. He has spent more than 20 years exploring the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and has a deep passion for nature, history, storytelling, and adventure. Along with his wife Jenn, they combined these passions to create Blue Ridge Mountain Life, a travel guide to these stunning mountains they are fortunate to call home.

Larry has more than 20 years of experience as a writer and journalist, and has established himself as a leading voice and expert for Blue Ridge Mountains. He is also an avid hiker, photographer, and videographer. He loves sharing his mountain adventures and knowledge with more than 500,000 people per month on Blue Ridge Mountain Life.

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