Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails! at the Long Island Children’s Museum: Review by Alyson Treglia


© 2020 Gullane (Thomas) Limited Thomas & Friends™: Explore the Rails! was created by Minnesota  Children’s Museum, presented by Fisher-Price. Sponsored locally by People’s United Bank.

The Long Island Children’s Museum (LICM) has been a favorite place to visit over the years, located on museum row in Garden City nestled next to the Cradle of Aviation Museum, the Nassau County Fire House Museum and Nunley’s Carousel. We as a family have been frequent visitors during many of its rotating exhibitions, always discovering new things that interest my son as he grows. It was ideal timing that the Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails! came to LICM, since my son, Thomas, has been a huge fan and is the perfect age to appreciate such a wonderful exhibition!

We attended the exhibit opening weekend to explore, along with LICM members, before being open to the public that day. When entering the museum, there is a very cute photo op with a large wooden LICM  train…..a convenient way to keep little ones occupied while buying tickets.  The LICM also offered breakfast to its early morning members, which consisted of bagels and refreshments; welcome fuel for the adventures that awaited us.

The Thomas exhibit is located on the first floor. Before entering, there is a large multi- sided, interactive clock that displays a different trains arrival time, which you can change by swinging the clock hands around and pressing buttons to find out if the train will be early or late.

The entrance way is a display arch of Sodor, with a whimsical windmill and landscape. Under the arch, you are greeted by a large model of Thomas the train himself. Thomas served as a great photo op, and it was fun to climb his stairs to pretend to be an engineer, turning levers and twisting knobs to help him drive through Sodor. Next to it was another photo opportunity… could take a pictures as a family in front of a mural of Thomas and Sir Topham Hatt and have it emailed to yourself.

There are many interactive areas that inspire constant pretend play, inspiring children to engage in a variety of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) challenges. There are areas to dress up as conductors, giving out tickets and money to passengers, an area to fix Percy’s wheels, a seating area with luggage to take a break to pretend you are a passenger on a train and luggage/sorting area.

My son particularly loved the section where he helped “Get Percy Going” by placing pieces of coal on a conveyer belt and turning a large wheel.  Another child is needed to turn a wheel to provide water to help Percy chug and make its whistle blow. It provided an opportunity to work as a team, which resulted in my son making a new friend. It was a great teachable moment.

The showstopper of the exhibit is the massive wood train display table, fully equipped tracks and with Thomas trains and his friends. Children flocked to this area the most, taking trains and traveling them over hills on their tracks, parking them at rest stops and interacting with various structures on the way.  The secret to avoiding bumping into other children while playing was soon discovered by my son. Crawl under the massive table where you can find a opening in the middle of the entire train structure where two to three kids can fit and play in an enclosed area. The best part was that it encouraged children to share their trains (to the best of their ability based on their age)!  I had a few proud moments watching other kids break up their chain of trains to share. We spent the majority of our time in this area, left and then came back to it because my son couldn’t get enough.

There was also various Thomas inspired crafts on both the first and second floors, all free with admission. We participated in a few…one was making a Thomas the train wearable hat that you could color.  Another was creating a train out of a toilet paper roll, construction paper and markers. My son’s favorite craft was constructing a train box car that carried coal and had real working wheels that you could then race on a large yellow track. He enjoyed competing with others to see whose craft train could go farther. He loved climbing the small step stool, setting up his train (with assistance from the LICM wonderful workers) and letting go to run to the end of the track to see where his train wound up. His favorite moment, after several tries, was having his train go all the way off the track onto the carpet.

Overall it was a memorable, engaging day on the Island of Sodor, with lots of pretend play, learning, sharing and of course fun!

The Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails! is running through May 10th, 2020.  To purchase tickets, visit

For more information about the exhibit, visit

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