Tips for Enjoying Your Day Out With Thomas

Outdoor Places to Go

Are you going to Day Out With Thomas next weekend or still want to buy tickets? We went last weekend and have some tips for what to wear and bring with you, when to get there, how to navigate the grounds, along with what you can expect on the train rides and other activities that we loved while we were there.

There are a limited number of tickets left online and tickets are also available as you enter the gated area, but they do sell out throughout the day. If you want to make a game day decision, I suggest that you go in the morning to buy tickets at the gate.

day out with thomas illinois


Tips for Enjoying Your Day Out With Thomas


When to Get There

Be on time for your Thomas ride! The trains leave very promptly and we were allowed to board 10 minutes before our ride started.  The lines began to form about 30 minutes before departure. Several staff members suggested sitting in the back of the trains so you could see Thomas and Percy when turning the corners. So if you would like to be able to choose where you want to sit, it’s best to arrive early.

Keep in mind that you can enjoy all of the many activities and other aspects of the Illinois Railway Museum before or after your train ride(s). The time on your tickets is for the Thomas ride, not the time you are admitted onto the grounds.


How to Navigate the Grounds

The Illinois Railway Museum had a ton of really cool trains (in addition to Thomas and Percy) to see! It is a large, outdoor area, with some of the older trains in large barns that you can explore. I would definitely recommend bringing a stroller for younger children that may tire easily. However, please remember that you are not allowed to bring your stroller on the trains. There is definitely enough to see and do to spend the whole day there!


illinois railway museum


What to Wear

The waiting area for Thomas is a large outdoor area, so bring sunscreen, hats and sunglasses! Walking shoes (sneakers or otherwise) are also a must. Also, keep in mind that the trains run rain or shine, so if rain is in the forecast don’t forget an umbrella. The train horns and Thomas music may be too loud for sensitive ears. Bring headphones if you feel your children would benefit from them.


What to Eat and Drink

The food we bought while there was not overly expensive ($20 for a meal for two adults and two children) but due to the walking and heat, we were glad we had brought lots of water. An indoor space is available for families who purchased food and there are plenty of covered outdoor areas to sit and eat a picnic lunch from home or food you bought on the grounds.


Thomas and Percy Rides

Both trains move their eyes and mouths as they travel on the track, which is really exciting for the kids. So make sure to watch the trains before or after your ride: it had my four year old’s jaw on the ground!

While on Thomas two songs from Thomas & Friends play while you ride. Your child also receives a certificate on the train. There isn’t music on the Percy ride, but for Thomas & Friends fans it’s a fun experience.


day out with thomas tattoo



I was very impressed with the activity tents! There is one that had several train tables with trains and another with a Bob the Builder section and toys, coloring areas with crayons and pages, and several inflatable bouncy houses. They also had uncovered areas with small ride-on Thomas on a track and a large pile of sand with some sand toys to dig with. The Illinois Railway Museum has a nice outdoor park that many children were enjoying.

When we arrived at the entrance gates, we were given a map of the grounds and each child got a Scavenger Stamp Hunt Sheet. If you go to four different locations and get stamps from workers at the locations, you receive a prize (a plastic clapper with A Day Out With Thomas sticker on it, which my kids were happy about). The locations were by the free tattoos, the story time tent (they had several chairs and a running DVD of Thomas & Friends), the entrance to Sir Topham Hatt, and past the checkout at the toy tent.


The remaining dates for Day Out With Thomas are Saturday, August 20 and Sunday, August 21, 2016.


The train rides are definitely the main event, but there are many other things to enjoy on the grounds of the Illinois Railway Museum, including:

  • Meet Sir Topham Hatt™
  • Clowns
  • Magic Shows
  • Garden model railroad display
  • Live Music
  • Thomas & Friends™ Storytelling and Video Viewing
  • Thomas & Friends Playtable
  • Thomas & Friends Coloring
  • Temporary Tattoos of Island of Sodor Friends

The Thomas the Tank Engine™ ride is 20 minutes and it’s recommended that you arrive in that area 15 minutes early to board the train. An additional ticket is required for the 20-minute Percy ride.



Tickets are $21 each and tickets are required for children 2 years old and up. Day Out With Thomas tickets include one train ride with Thomas the Tank Engine™ for the trip specified on the Day Out With Thomas ticket, unlimited rides on streetcars; all entertainment (live music, magic shows, etc.); and access to all Museum exhibits on the date specified on the ticket. Food, snacks and beverages will be available at several locations around the Museum grounds for purchase.

You can ride on the Percy train for an additional $10. When you buy Thomas tickets you will choose a time to ride Thomas and your Percy ticket time will automatically generate so you have time in between the rides for a bathroom or snack break and then you board the Percy ride.

Click here to purchase your Thomas tickets online or there are a limited number of tickets available at the gate.



The Illinois Railway Museum is located at 7000 Olson Road, Union, Illinois, 60180. Union is located northwest of the Kidlist area. Take the Illinois Northwest Tollway (Interstate 90) to U.S. Route 20, Marengo exit. Drive Northwesterly on Route 20, about 4-1/2 miles to Union Road. Take Union Road north and follow the signs.



Parking at the Illinois Railway Museum is free. The parking lot opens at 7:30am and the gate opens at 9am. You are welcome to come to the event when the gate opens, even if your ticket time is in the afternoon so you can enjoy all of the activities.



This post brought to you by the Illinois Railway Museum, but all opinions are my own.

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