All Aboard for Carver's Edaville USA
by John Galluzzo
"Edaville," as it's always been known, was around when I was a kid, and I have a vague recollection of my mother saying that sometime we might, possibly, could go there. I don't know if we ever did. I feel like if we did, I might remember it.
But here we are, a generation later, and the whole allure of trains has changed for kids. Four year-olds today are brought up on Thomas and His Friends, the stories created by a British reverend decades ago, now made into CGI cartoons for kids around the world. A couple of times a year, Edaville hides its own trains and hops aboard the Thomas one. And I mean that literally.
But if you play your cards right, the ride with Thomas is the cherry on top of an already great day at Edaville. Purchasing tickets well ahead of time gives families the option to take, say, a 2 p.m. train ride. Arrive early, grab lunch, see the grounds, and end the day with the "Number 1 Blue Engine." Through the eyes of a four year-old, Edaville is a little slice of locomotive heaven.
First, there is the meet and greet with Sir Topham Hatt, the man who keeps the engines running on time on Thomas' Island of Sodor. And then there's the indoor play area, Ellis' Playhouse. Run some remote control trains, or play with the wooden versions on the train track tables. And believe me when I say it, the opportunities to purchase mementos from the day are never that far away. Thomas is a well-branded and marketed little steam engine.
Back outside, there's an old carousel that just keeps on spinning, year after year, and an old painted sign of a teddy bear wearing a local sports team logo with a sign that says "Maybe next year," offering a chuckle for the dads. There are more play traditional outdoor play areas, some smaller kid-friendly amusements, a storyteller's tent and a cafe, but when the call goes out, you'd better be ready. Seating is first-come, first-served once you get through the gate, and it can get crowded in the cars. But just watch the expression on your little one's face once the ride begins. You know it's the same train pulling the same cars around the same track as any other day, but to him or her, it's Thomas. No ifs, ands or buts about it: it's him.
It can be a lot for a little one to take in, and the walk back to the car can soon become a piggyback ride. Depending on how far you have to travel, you might get some quiet time, as chances are, especially on a hot day, it all becomes too much, and exhaustion sets in. But know that your children are sleeping the sleep of the triumphant. When they awaken, they get to tell friends, "I rode Thomas!"
Using GPS, enter 5 Pine Street, Carver, Massachusetts
"Day Out with Thomas" scheduled for August 31-September 2, and September 6-8, 2013
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