This past weekend, we surprised our 2-year-old with a “Day out With Thomas,” put on by the Virginia & Truckee Railroad in Virginia City. It’s a 25-minute train ride, and many of the activities can fill a whole day. Here’s what I learned:
- Ideally, you want to show up about 45 minutes before the train ride. Bring cash. There is no ATM available at the train depot.
- The parking lot on F street at the train depot is full. Don’t even bother, just head to the 2nd lot near the church on E street (see pic). It’s a short walk, and there’s even a free shuttle pick-up.
- Chances are, it’ll be warm enough to leave your coat in the car. You will end up carrying everyone’s coats. Leave the stroller in the car, too. They are not allowed in any of the shops or on the train. Carriers are better in this respect.
- Start at the ticket and will call building. You’ll get a hand stamp, tickets, a map guide and a PASSPORT to collect 4 stamps for a prize at the end.
- Alright, you’re in! Next up if you can, take turns going to the bathroom with your partner or adult company while the kids hit the (free) bounce house next door to the restrooms. There are nice non-porta potties. Also next to the bathrooms is a nursing/diaper changing tent which is also nice (see pic).
- The first (1 of 4) activity to do for a passport stamp is (free) ride the engines on the play lawn. Afterward, head over to the imagination station for a stamp on your passport. The imagination station is filled with Legos and train sets to play with, too.
- At this point, it’s time to line up for the train. There are multiple lines to enter the multiple train cars. While standing in line and waiting, I pulled out the candy and drinks and that really helped with the wait.
- All aboard! The car is decorated with teddy bears in the overhead luggage compartments — so cute. Thomas & Friends music is playing, someone comes around and offers to take your picture & gives you a ticket with instructions to access online later. No train ride would be complete without a tunnel. There is a really cool tunnel lit up with neon lights.
- After the 25-minute train ride, get your passport stamped (2 of 4) and take a picture with a live Sir Topham Hat, with another ticket with instructions to access online later. Try to get in line fast with this one or be prepared to wait.
- Walking around, you’ll find storyboards, a play sandbox, bean bag toss, putt-putt golf, a magic show, bubble station, handcar rides (all free). There are non-moving caboose cars to go inside with a snack bar (no alcohol), tattoos and coloring.
- You’ll want to get your passport stamped (3 of 4) at the storytelling caboose/video viewing area, which is a quiet place playing the Thomas and Friends on a screen.
- Lastly, its time to shop! THERE IS SO MUCH TO BUY. The last (4 of 4) passport stamp is in the gift shop tent. There’s also the depot gift shop (which I preferred) which sells even more Thomas gear along with general train memorabilia.
- Check in with the ticket booth to get your surprise gift for getting all your stamps. We left happy. I encouraged my toddler to walk back to the car quickly by holding freshly made blue cotton candy 6 inches in front of her like a horse follows a carrot. It worked — haha!
Buy your tickets now! October 26-28 is the last weekend for this event!