Sunday, November 8, 2009

News flash: Thomas the Train does not have a bar car

I don’t mean to be overly dramatic but holy shit, we made it. We spent our day with Thomas the Train in Essex, Connecticut. Walking into that Lala Land of Sodor music and screaming kids was downright trippy. I’ve never seen so many Sodorites. Every kid was sporting Thomas gear. And meltdowns? Scary. Ear piercing. Frequent. On more than one occasion I held Junior to me and whispered, “Thank God you’re mine.”

Junior was pretty juiced to ride Thomas. The bouncy train seats were nice. As was the open window. The sunshine. Mellow Junior.


I know, I know, there’s always a but.

The ticket-taker talked the whole ride. On a microphone that was wired into enormous speakers—speakers that were everywhere. If your toddler wanted to ask you a million times “Is Thomas puffin?” you had to keep shouting yes. YES, YES, Thomas is puffin!

And instead of “Day with Thomas,” it should have been “Five minutes with Thomas.” Unless you walked to the front of the train after your ride (and by “walk” I mean let the crowd carry you), you didn’t see him. Junior kept asking us where Thomas was hiding.

For $90 ($18 per ticket x 3 tickets + $17.50 service fee + $15 shipping fee), my kid should not be struggling to locate the whereabouts of a bright blue locomotive with a face! It’s almost funny.


Know what else is almost funny? Overhearing other parents’ conversations as we ate our $3.50 mac and cheese (to be fair, hotdogs were $1.50). My favorites:

“I need a cigarette and a nap.”

“Godammit, Spencer! [belch] Now I have to get you another [belch] straw!”

I don’t know what was scarier: The fact that someone thought picnic tables next to Porta-potties was a good idea or the loose interpretation of the term parenting I observed.

I don’t mean to put a negative spin on the experience (I mean, when Junior reflects on his life this will probably be up there with getting laid), but I feel jipped. The ad said storytelling. In reality, a video of Thomas played on a pull-down screen. The ad promised “Build with LEGO bricks.” There were LEGOs in the shape of Thomas, but he was already assembled, and kids were playing King of the Mountain on him (I’m not kidding, Junior took a heel to the cheek trying to just stand near him). Sure, you could meet Sir Topham Hat—for another $20.

Twenty bucks! To meet a scary-looking plump white guy who’s always giving orders.

And what the frick? The allure of Thomas the Train isn’t just Thomas, it’s all of his friends. It's the "You're cross" and the "No, now he's cross" and the "Check the signals!" and the "Ok, even though we're fickle little engines let's be friends again" comradery that makes it special.

For some kids, naming Thomas’ friends is as much a rite of passage as knowing their ABCs. Yet the only sign of Gordon, Emily, Percy, James, Sir Handel, Henry, Stanley—crap, I know too much about this topic—was one incredibly lame waist-high poster with a few of the trains on it.

Oh, and in the gift shop. The gift shop’s cup runneth over.

Well, next Saturday my cup will runneth over. My aunt, cousin and mother want to experience Thomas with Junior. He’s a lucky little boy in that he gets to go twice. I'm lucky in that now I know exactly what to bring with me:

1) earplugs

2) a peanut butter and jelly sandwich

3) a flask


Mad Woman said...

And wet wipes for those tables next to the porta potties. And maybe some valium. I know Junior probably thought it was pretty hot shit, but it sounds like a nightmare to me :)

Pricilla said...

I again say, sometimes it's good to be a goat.

rachel... said...

You mean you're going BACK? Why not let aunt, cpusin, and mother take Junior while you stay home with your flask?

Holy crap, thank god none of my kids ever got into Thomas. Yet.

Sara said...

We go see Thomas every year when he comes to town. It isn't the crush like you describe. We get within a few feet of Thomas for pictures, then play in the moon bounce, do the hay bale maze, shop, play put-put, get some ice cream on the way home and call it a day. I look forward to it every year. We don't ride the train, though, for almost $100 I want more than a 15 minute train ride on a 1930's train.

Have fun on your second go-around! :D

Anonymous said...

Oh good lord. "Is Thomas puffin?" yeah, yeah, yeah! That frickin chant would have driven me over the edge, and I think my child as well.

Isn't it amazing what you hear in a cafeteria? That's why we've got the new iHear Clear on the iPhone. You can hear everybody's conversations!

Lindy said...

You wrote my comment in your blog post..."crap, I know too much about this topic."

I guess I'm missing out - my kid has never even so much as mentioned Thomas the Train. She's a girl, don't know if that has something to do with it. :)

I challenge you to name all Disney Princesses.

feefifoto said...

A piece of advice: don't EVER attempt Legoland.

blognut said...

Uh huh. I remember the Thomas days. Thank God they're past me now!

Anne said...

We have never done the Thomas thing and I am ok with that. I am glad that Junior enjoyed it. I agree with Rachel, let the relatives take him next time and you stay home with your feet up. Large crowds of children make me nervous.

ShellyInOz said...

Just to be clear, is $3.50 for mac and cheese expensive? Kids meals here in Oz are more like $7.50

When I first saw your post, I was thinking that my boys would have loved to visit Thomas land, but now?--not so much.

Sorry, you didn't enjoy it and even sorrier that you have to do it all again!

Mrsbear said...

I find that most big name kid events fall short of the mark for parents. Also, anywhere that there are people. :( We did a Walking With Dinosaurs show last year around this time and it was oh-kay, but definitely not worth the $500 it cost to get our entire family seats. And we didn't even splurge for the $25 tee shirts.

Good luck next weekend. At least your son enjoyed it mostly.

Denise @ Sunflowers, Chocolate and Little Boys said...

Sorry your day wasnt better. We have been going to the Day out with Thomas in Strasburg, PA for the last 4 years and always have a good time. Yes, the parents and kids can get on your nerves but it is worth it. We ALWAYS go during the week and the crowds are kept to a minimum. And we got to see Sir Toppem Hat for free. I wonder why it is different in CT?

Stacy (the Random Cool Chick) said...

Thank god Princess Nagger is obsessed with dinosaurs instead of Thomas. It was close, though. ;)

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

Dude, on that list of supplies you forgot mace. You totally need the mace. As in, "back away from the Legos while my son builds with them or I will MACE you."

Mace can be interchanged with Taser.

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