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The Ultimate LA Family Guide ™
Thomas the Train in Fillmore
Our recent excursion to see Thomas the Train. The Fillmore Western and Railway Company hosts special events throughout the year and the one we picked to go to with our kids was one focused on the popular character Thomas the Train and it was called Day Out with Thomas. It was way more than just a train ride but let me get the basic 411 out of the way:
The tickets were $16 per adult and our kids were free because they were under 2 years old.
Day Out with Thomas took place the last two weekends in April for a total of 6 days. The front car of the train was a replica of Thomas and the rest of the train was composed of vintage cars including several with no roof. The whole ride was 25 minutes and it was not scenic in the least. It literally left the station, we rode along for 12 minutes and then it reversed its way back to the station.
Now, about Fillmore: it's basically not convenient to any other town except maybe Valencia or Ventura. Let me explain. It is north of Thousand Oaks, but the "freeway" to get there is a very windy two lane road which is Highway 23. You have to go over a big mountain and the road just felt soooo long. The other freeway you can take is off the 5 freeway in Valencia called the 126, which begins in Valencia and ends in Ventura. This is what I would recommend. It is stll 17 miles west of Valencia but at least this freeway has more lanes and is a straight shot so you can go at a normal speed. The inconvenience of getting to Fillmore was the biggest drawback of our experience.
Parking was free in their lots or you could find street parking. It was extremely crowded when we went with lots of families and large groups and strollers everywhere. Please note here that you could not bring your stroller on the train. We had bought our tickets for the event a month before over the internet. There were many departures times to choose from and each departure looked to be full to capacity. We got there at 11 for an 11:30 departure and the line was already very long with families cying for choice seating near the Thomas head car or to sit in one of the open air cars. We got in line at 11 and did not end up in an open air car but we found plenty of seating for my sister's family and my parents so that we could all sit together. My niece Heidi just turned 2 in March and loves Thomas the Train but actually being on the train wasn't all that exciting for her or my kids. While, I think they were a little young to appreciate this unique form of transportation, they have had a great time on the smaller trains at Griffith Park and they enjoyed a much more scenic and seemingly more authentic train ridge at Knotts berry farm. I also wish we could have seen more of the beautiful agrigcultural scenery of the area but the trip was very brief. This railroad company does a whole littany of family and adult events and regular weekend excursions so you should really check out their website to see if any of them strike your fancy. We will link to their website from our Excursion Guide at lawithkids.com.
On this weekend there were many vendors set up given the thousands of people who come to visit thomas.
Once we disembarked the train we went in search of lunch of which there were several options. There was a stand selling Tri Tip barbecued sandwiches, an asian stand, a hot dof stand and more. I got a terriyaki beef and rice bowl which was expensive and just so-so but my expectation were not that high. Jody also got a yummy smoothy so be sure to check that out when you go. Unfortunately they did not provide enough tables and chairs to accomodate the crowds so this is something they will hopefully address next year.
Here is a list of the activities for children and believe me, your kids of all ages will not be bored here!
Around 10 Thomas the Train tables were set up with trians for the kids to play with and my niece had a ball there.
There were 2 different bounce houses (one for older kids and one for the toddler set). Logan and Madison love bounce houses but the one for their age group was extremely crowded. In my daughter's words it was just "too much."
In an area called Imagination Station there were lots of tables and chairs set up with various activities such as arts and crafts, temporary tattoos, puzzles and mega blocks. There were also several Little Tikes type rocking animals to go on. In addition they had a band playing live music for the little ones and a clown who performed for them. Just outide of this covered area was an area with balls to throw and ball with, but designed for kids under 5.
On the backside of the event area was a fire truck with firmen to talk to and take pictures with so we did this because my kids love fire trucks.
There was also a storytelling area that we didn't participate in.
Accross the street there is a small railroad museum and
my son and husband loved an area where they had a big electric model train set going.
The gift shop was a huge tent with an explosion of Thomas merchandise. My mom got us a Thomas ball, two Thomas dinner plates and a set of Thomas flash cards. My sister bought a battery operated wooden train car and a t-shirt. You could really spend a good half hour in there making decision with all of their inventory.
I really enjoyed going to the railway and if my kids didn't need a nap I would have explored more of Fillmore which has a fun, walkable downtown area with many antique type stores, a town hall, shops and restaurants. I just wish it was a little closer and easier to get to from where we live. But we have a lot of good memories and they just had so many activities for young children. Even though there were a lot of people there the event area is huge with lots of open space. I would highly recommend day Out with Thomas but also check out the other train excursion options where the train actually goes somewhere. There are murder mystery evening train rides, a dinner train with Santa, a train ride to a pumpkin patch and a lot more.