PLEASE NOTE: This post was written in 2016, and while it should still give you a good overview of the experience, it is also possible that it may contain some outdated information. Please check their website for the most current information, especially about things like hours and pricing.
Thank you to Edaville USA for providing my family with complimentary admission to the park in order to write this post. All opinions are 100% my own.
It’s no secret that we are big Thomas fans here at Out and About Mom. After all, for four years we’ve been covering the Essex Steam Train’s annual Day Out with Thomas event. The trouble is, that only happens once a year. So what’s a Thomas fan to do???
Go to Thomas Land, of course!
Yes, my friends, Thomas has made a permanent home at the Edaville USA amusement park in Carver, MA. And today, I’m giving you a private tour of his new digs 🙂
The Park was an easy drive for us from our home in the Hartford, CT area. It took us about 2 hours, but since the Park doesn’t open until 10:00 am (and we all know that if you’ve got small kids you’re probably up at 6:00 anyway!), we just hopped in the car after breakfast and off we went.
Everything went smoothly until we reached the last bit. Despite following my iPhone GPS to the letter, we soon realized that something was amiss when the darn thing told us to pull in here:
Turns out we aren’t the first folks to fall for this trap.
Fortunately, there are clear directions on their website (find those here). And there are plenty of signs in the vicinity, so you will surely end up in the right place, no matter what navigational method you choose 🙂
When you arrive, you’ll see a great big parking area, conveniently located right in front of the park entrance. Parking is FREE.
Edaville USA has a rich and fascinating history dating back to the 1800’s. And since I came here as a child in the 1980’s (when we just called it Edaville Railroad), I like to think of myself as being a little part of that history 🙂
Of course, there have been BIG changes since the last time I visited here. I didn’t even recognize the place!
But before I begin my tour of the park, I want to point out just a few of Edaville USA’s fantastic features.
1. This amusement park is perfect for smaller kids.
Unlike some of the other parks in our area (where there is maybe just a small-ish kiddie ride section), pretty much ALL the rides at Edaville USA are suitable for the preschool set (yes, they may need a parent to accompany them though) as well as being fun for older kids. Both my 3-year-old and my 6-year-old were equally enamored 🙂
As you enter the park, a picture of each ride noting the height requirements to ride is posted on this fence. So you can even take a quick peek ahead of time and know what rides to try and what to avoid.
If you’re really a planner, all this information is available on their website as well.
2. The Park has made a tremendous effort to incorporate sensory-friendly features.
A brand new map helps parents not only navigate the different sections of the park, but also provides them with sensory-friendly information.
This “Quiet Room” is located in the middle of Edaville Proper and offers a calm respite for children who need a break, nursing mothers, or anyone who needs a little time out from the surrounding hustle and bustle. The lights are low, there is plenty of seating and even a few toys like puzzles and legos to help children focus on an activity. Another sensory-friendly feature: a “Quiet Car” on the train ride. But more on that later.
3. Family-friendly features make a day at the Park even more enjoyable for everyone.
Stroller rentals, among other things, are available in the Guest Services building on your right as you enter from the parking lot.
Another example, this exceptional area for nursing mothers (or even for giving baby a bottle in a quiet, distraction-free zone) has rocking chairs, a diaper changing area and even toys for older kids to keep busy with while mom attends to baby.
So now that we’ve pointed out a few of the nifty extra features, are you ready for the grand tour?! I thought so 🙂
Admission to the park includes all the different rides and attractions including Edaville Proper, Thomas Land, Dino Land, Cran Central Junction and unlimited rides on the Thomas train.
When you enter Edaville USA, you find yourself in “Edaville Proper.”
This section of the park includes rides, places to eat and will soon be home to the brand new Dickens Village.
There are a variety of amusement park rides here.
This Kid’s Caboose with lots of toys and games for little ones inside.
You’ll also find a real train engine to explore.
And of course there are lots of options for food, snacks and treats.
At the far edge of the park is the nearly brand new (just opened last year!) Thomas Land, featuring all those familiar Island of Sodor landmarks (Tidmouth Sheds, Knapford Station) plus so many members of that beloved really useful crew.
Thomas Land is exactly as I imagined a Thomas Land would be. You enter through Knapford Station (which is also the gift shop), into a world of make believe that appears so real, you’ll swear you were transported right into an episode of Thomas & Friends complete with (real) stores, (pretend) people, and all your favorite characters! Even a sprightly medley of Thomas & Friends songs wafts down from well-placed speakers (what does it say about me that I know the words to just about every one???).
I would recommend starting your Thomas Land adventure with perhaps my favorite ride in the whole park, Winston’s Skyline Express. By the way, as you can see in the photo below, my son is measuring himself against the clearly posted height requirement for this ride (this one doesn’t have a minimum height so long as an adult accompanies). At each ride you will find one of these measuring posts, so it’s easy to discover (you know, before you wait in line) if your kiddos will be able to participate.
These adorable little “cars” take you on a birds eye view tour of all the rides and attractions in Thomas Land. It was so much fun for the little guys to spot the different characters as we sailed by above them.
Friends at Tidmouth Sheds:
The Diesel Works:
The Troublesome Trucks:
It was the perfect way to start our adventure–with a look down at all the fun things we would get to experience!
There were so many fun rides and activities. These were a few of the highlights for my crew.
A high ride on Bertie Bus.
A spin with Toby.
A whirl with Harold.
Bumping along at the Diesel Works.
I braved the Troublesome Trucks roller coaster with my 6-year-old, and let me tell you, that was a real coaster! With twists and turns and highs and lows. Not for the itty bitty ones, of course 🙂
This was a treat (for us parents too!). The kids were able to ride this mini windmill ferris wheel solo. They loved that.
We also checked out the real Sodor Sweet Shoppe. It sold everything from gourmet chocolates to fruity lollipops. Bins and jars and displays everywhere you looked, much of which was sold by the piece so you could create your own treat mix. My kiddos were like, well, kids in a candy store 🙂
One place we did not get to check out because it happened to be closed for cleaning at the time, was the Sodor Play Zone. This indoor playground is designed for kids ages 4-12 (but there is a toddler area as well). Socks are required for the play zone, but can be purchased there for $2 if needed.
Of course, no visit to Thomas Land would have been complete without a stop at Tidmouth Sheds to see Gordon, James, Emily & Percy (Thomas is not there because he has a special special; more on that later!)
There are a couple different events that take place over here during the day. One is a meet and greet with Sir Topham Hatt. And another is actually a little live-action show that involves the engines. The schedule for Show Times and Meet & Greets is posted just in front of the sheds. As you can see, there are several per day so if you miss one, don’t worry. Chances are you can come back later.
We were able to catch one of the shows. It was about 20-minutes long, featured the engines talking and interacting with some human characters, and involved lots of audience participation. As luck would have it, my older son was given (totally random) a special red ball to hold prior to the start of the performance, and it turned out to be a prop that guaranteed him a role in the show! He was completely into it 🙂
By this time, we were all a little hungry. So we headed over to the Dockside Diner to check out the food selection.
This cafeteria-style restaurant carries on the Sodor theme with a nautical feel– as if you were dining near those famous Sodor docks!
(And YES, Cranky the Crane and Captain are just nearby!)
The Diner serves a variety of family-friendly foods like hot dogs, grilled cheese and pizza, plus yogurts and kid-approved snacks like hot pretzels, chips and fruit cups.
The kids chose yogurt and grilled cheese. I couldn’t resist a hot dog 🙂
The restrooms are located over here as well, behind the Dockside Diner building. There are regular restrooms and a family-style restroom. All of them have changing stations in them.
Now, remember I told you that Thomas himself isn’t hanging out in Thomas Land? Well, would you like to know where you can find everyone’s favorite #1 engine? Of course you do!
Train Ride with Thomas
I actually have some vague memories of visiting Edaville when I was a kid, but as park staff informed me, probably nothing would look familiar because in the late 1990’s (waaaaaay past my elementary school years) the property was purchased by a new owner who pretty much gave it a complete facelift. Actually, gave it a new face entirely is more like it!
But I do have a few flashbacks of riding along on the Edaville Railroad, so it was extra special to be taking my kiddos on this part of the adventure.
Trains depart every hour on the hour. There is an announcement over the loudspeaker when each train ride begins boarding.
You don’t need a ticket (unlimited train rides are included with the price of general admission), you don’t need a reservation, you don’t have an assigned seat. You just show up for the train you’d like to ride and hop aboard.
Oh wait! I almost forgot the most important part! Can you guess who is pulling this train? 🙂
That’s right! Thomas!
You can stop by before or after your ride (or really anytime the train is at the station) and pose for a photo with the little blue engine (your camera or theirs). I couldn’t get my kiddos to stand still long enough to take a photo here, but luckily some readers have shared their photos with me and I thought it would be fun to include them. Check out these OAAM readers having a great time with Thomas!
So back to the train ride. As I mentioned at the start, Edaville USA has made a tremendous effort to create a sensory-friendly experience throughout the park. And the train ride is no different. You’ll notice there is a “Quiet Car” where the speakers aren’t quite as loud as they are in the regular cars. My kids actually chose that car. My older son has never been a fan of anything loud.
Strollers are not permitted on the train, but there is plenty of room to park them just outside the entrance.
Some of the windows are open and some of them are glass.
The ride is about 20 minutes long and it passes by some cute storybook cottages and characters, as well as the scenic cranberry bogs. (If you, like me, are wondering what is up with all the cranberries in this amusement park, you need to read this page. Although, if you consider that we are in the land of Ocean Spray over here near Cape Cod, perhaps the association is not so surprising.)
You also loop around behind Thomas Land, cross over in front of the entrance gate and come back out across the pond with panoramic views of Edaville Proper. It’s a lovely tour. (Forgive those hazy splotches on the below photo; I took it through a window 🙂 )
The train ride complete, we headed for our next great adventure: Dino Land!
If you have been following this blog, then you may remember our visit last year to The Dinosaur Place in Montville, CT. Dino Land at Edaville USA is somewhat similar to The Dinosaur Place. You walk along the trail and encounter various types of life-size dinosaurs in their “habitat”– but one big difference is that the dinos here are animated! Plus there is some well-placed simulated fog to really create that prehistoric atmosphere 🙂
Now, my two kids are almost as crazy for dinosaurs as they are for Thomas, so this section of the park was a real winner! In fact, we took three separate journeys through Dino Land on that day 🙂
The trail is a very manageable loop that exits you right where you started. There are also a few activities over here, like this dino-themed ride.
Grownups will thoroughly appreciate Edaville’s sense of humor here (after three passes through, these are some of my favorites).
Cran Central Junction
Our last stop of the day was this building: Cran Central Junction.
After dozens of rides, delicious treats and a dinosaur experience of jurassic proportions, I was not expecting to be overwhelmed with what we found in this red brick building that looked like a cross between a museum and a factory. This couldn’t possibly be as entertaining as the acres of Edaville we’d already explored, right?
Wrong! Just wait until you see what’s in here!
First floor with train tables, bumper cars and a small arcade.
Not to mention the Park’s main gift shop.
And this really wonderful room for nursing mothers that I mentioned at the start of this post.
Upstairs (yes! there’s more!) you’ll find a model train layout, in addition to a museum-like collection of historical items and equipment commemorating the area’s past.
And an indoor kiddie land of sorts. This area is perfect for your littlest ones. My 3-year-old was actually too tall for some of the rides!
We pretty much stayed at the park until the last possible minute.
I had no idea that such an incredible theme park (the kind people often fly south to find) was located just a short drive from our home. What a lovely surprise! (My kids now ask me daily when we are going back to Edaville.)
And with so many new attractions in the works (Dickens Village at year’s end, a pirate adventure debuting in 2017), we can’t wait to see what other surprises Edaville USA has in store.
So whether you’re a Thomas fan, or just a fan of fun, we hope you get a chance to check out Edaville USA.
Thank you to Edaville USA for providing my family with complimentary admission to the park in order to write this post. All opinions are 100% my own.
5 Pine Street, Carver, MA (GPS is a little wonky at the end, so follow these directions instead.)
All contact info can be found here.
General information: (508) 866-8190; firstname.lastname@example.org
Edaville USA’s 2016 season begins May 28th, 2016 and ends January 1st, 2017. Please note hours and dates are subject to change without notice. Edaville USA is a rain or shine amusement park. Visit this page for more details and daily hours.
4 years old and up: $37
2 & 3 years old and seniors: $32
Under 2 years old is FREE
See here for additional ticketing options and to buy tickets online. Annual passes are also available. If you decide to purchase an annual pass on the day of your visit, your daily admission will be applied to the cost of the annual pass.
Stroller Friendly: YES. Definitely bring your stroller even if you think your child will want to walk. There is a lot of ground to cover! Umbrella strollers are also available for rental.
Restroom: YES. Several located around the park.
Baby Changing Station: YES. Baby changing stations in all restrooms–men’s and women’s.
Parking: YES. Tons of FREE parking.
Food for Sale: YES.
Outside Food Allowed: YES. Just please only bring it in a soft cooler and nothing in class containers/bottles.
Cash Required: As far as I could tell, only for tokens to play games in the arcade.
Dress Code: Comfortable shoes!
Age Recommendations: Both my 3-year-old and my 6-year-old had a blast. I would say toddlers, preschoolers and elementary school age children would all find things to enjoy here.
Evening/Weekend Hours: YES. Evade USA is open on weekends.
Discounts: Certain kinds of tickets are discounted. See this page for details.
Birthday Party Venue: YES. See here for more info.
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