This post is sponsored by the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum in Calera, Alabama. All opinions are 100% my own. Please see my disclosure policy.
This past weekend, my family and I took a little day trip to the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum in Calera, Alabama.
I love the southern charm of this place and the welcoming spirit of all the employees and volunteers. Both make for a fabulous family experience!
Like most museums, the HODRRM has artifacts and memorabilia, but it also has two restored depots and an outdoor collection of vintage railroad cars, locomotives, and cabooses that are super fun to view and a great place to take pictures! The best part of all is that you can take a ride on a real locomotive and experience the excitement of times past in the historic train cars.
I have two train-loving children, so naturally, a train ride and specifically a train ride with Thomas the Tank Engine™ was a perfect weekend outing for our family at the museum. Upon arrival at the event, the live music sets the tone, and you can feel anticipation in the air as all the little people and even moms, dads, and grandparents buzz around and participate in the carefully planned events.
This was my family’s second year to attend the Day Out With Thomas™ at the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum, and I think it was even more fun this year than last! We definitely spent more time viewing many of the static trains on site, but we did take our turn at the Thomas & Friends™ Imagination Station playing with the wooden trains.
Big Adventures Tour 2018 also gave us opportunities to enjoy a bubble station, mini golf, food vendors, and play in the sand; however, we spent most of our time enjoying the actual railroad fun!
We did stop by the video station which was located in a stationary train car. It was a great place to sit down for a few minutes and take a rest from all the activity while we enjoyed a Thomas™ DVD.
Of course, we took our turn meeting Sir Topham Hatt™, the Controller of the Railway, and had our photo op with him! Last year we waited in a long line, so this year, we stopped by this event first. He greets visitors at certain times, so I began the line for the 11:30 meeting time while the rest of the crew visited the gift shop to look around. We were the first in line to meet him, and most of us enjoyed it. My youngest didn’t like him too much as she doesn’t like dressed up characters!
The gift shop tent hosts all sorts of Thomas the Tank Engine™ collectables and souvenirs for the littlest to oldest of fans. We purchased a set of magnets for the refrigerator and two new wooden trains. Much of the merchandise is exclusive to the event, so it’s enjoyable for the children to shop and take home a new train or some other special treasure from the day!
As we visited the different events, the children received stamps in their train passports and were able to redeem for a prize. Sometimes free prizes at events can be cheap and just something to throw in the garbage, but the children received nice little balls featuring… you guessed it… Thomas™, everyone’s #1 engine! They are the perfect size for a diaper bag!
Hands down, the best part of the event was the train ride! During the days of the Day Out With Thomas™ event, there are multiple times offered for riding the train from morning to afternoon. HODRRM recommends that passengers arrive one hour before their departure time to pick up tickets at the Calera Depot, use the restrooms at the gift shop, and to get in line at the correct boarding location; however, we also had extra time to participate in a couple of events before our train ride.
At last year’s event, my family rode the HODRRM’s oldest car on the train, the Frisco Coach 1062, built in 1910! This year we rode the Chicago & North Western (C&NW) Gallery Coach 59. It was built in 1960 and used as a commuter train. It is fully enclosed and climate controlled with seating in an upper and lower deck. We chose the lower deck of this spacious and cush railcar, and enjoyed the large windows and facing seats.
The Day Out With Thomas™ train ride lasted approximately 25 minutes, and all the train cars are pulled by Thomas the Tank Engine™.
Overall, we spent about two-and-a-half hours at the Day Out With Thomas™ event as we made family memories to last a lifetime!
I can’t wait for our next visit as the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum features all sorts of family-fun events throughout the calendar year including the Pumpkin Patch Express, Wild West Day, Rail Safety Day, the North Pole Express, and much more!
Ticket and other detailed information can be found on the HODRRM website. I encourage you to visit the official railroad museum of the state of Alabama!
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