It’s all aboard for Thomas the Tank Engine.
The blue steam engine’s shiny, smiling face has become an international children’s favourite through books and video. Originally created as a tale for his young son in 1946, Rev. Wilbert Awdry used Thomas as a main character in many of the 26 books he wrote in The Railway Series, which was later made into a TV series produced in the United Kingdom and the U.S.
Because of Thomas’ popularity, Prairie Dog Central Railway’s marketing manager, Catherine Duffin, is confident that the response will be great when a replica of the famous steam engine comes to the Prairie Dog Central Railway in August for a "Day Out with Thomas."
"We’re anticipating 13,000 riders," she said, adding that two-thirds of tickets for the 11 rides on Aug. 16, 17, 23 and 24 had been sold as of July 23.
The Prairie Dog Central Railway depot is located just off Sturgeon Road in the RM of Rosser. There are signs located on CentrePort Canada Way directing drivers to the depot.
When the Thomas engine was first brought to the Prairie Dog Central Railway in 2008, the response was overwhelming, Duffin said.
"It’s very much family entertainment," she said. "It’s a family favourite. It’s timeless."
The Thomas ride just takes 25 minutes, but admission includes a meeting with fictional North Western Railway head Sir Topham Hatt, a hay bale maze, live entertainment including magicians, bouncers, a mini-train ride, crafts and more children’s activities.
Duffin said parking will be available at nearby Little Mountain Park Sportsplex and a shuttle will transport people from the lot to and from the depot. She recommends that train riders arrive at least an hour before their departure time.
The Prairie Dog Central will continue with its regular season in September and run a few Halloween rides in October.
Information on the Thomas rides and the Prairie Dog Central Railway can be found at http://www.pdcrailway.com