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“Fell in Love with Steam Trains Here”

Delaware River Railroad Excursions
Attraction details
Reviewed January 11, 2013

I honestly didn't care much about trains until my son bombarded me with his Thomas obsession. I then heard about the Day Out with Thomas celebration at this location. While that had its own fun, mostly for the kids, I fell in love with the big steamer they have when we went again in the fall. I went on more excursions after, some diesel, some steam, but nothing beats the steam to strike that deep, inner nerve of nostalgia.

I've watched many trains over the years, but nothing, NOTHING beats the thrill of those puffs of smoke and steam while the big 2-8-2 comes charging down the line. Since it backs into the station, we often ride it to the Mine stop, get off, picnic there, and wait for it to come back to pick us up. This is the best spot to watch it come in full force and speed. It will go back up the line and back up to pick you up from there. You don't have to buy the mine package to stop there, only if you want to take part in the mine tour (fun for younger kids.)

The views of the river are better in spring/early summer and fall, as otherwise the foliage blocks some of the view. Other reviewers complained about the views of the backs of houses, but I guess I'm one of those folks who finds that fascinating, as I always enjoyed nosing at people's and business' backyards while riding NJTransit. It's a differing view you don't really get to see otherwise.

The track and station area, while nothing fancy, have their own historical charm. There is a placard for Lehigh Valley RR under the stone bridge. Across the tracks by the river are the remnants of other stone structures. There is a nearby skate park, and towards the back of it is an exit to a trail in the woods that follows some old rails that cut through chunks of mountain. Not sure who owns this property, so be wary, but it's neat to look at. There are also old lime kilns which you can view as one of the stops for the Easter egg hunt or the Pumpkin pick (both for kids.) There are also historical remnants throughout town in a short walking distance of the station.

I recommend a ride during the cooler times of year. I don't care for heat at all, so I'm biased, but the antique passenger cars, while having fans, are not air conditioned (the onboard gift shop is though.) Windows do open though, at least in the cars we were in. The conductors and engineers dress in old-timey railroading gear, and on the regular excursions (to the mine or corn maze) they play old-fashioned piano music.

If you sign up for their mailing list, you can sometimes get coupons. I took my father to the "Dads Ride Free" weekend, and he said it was one of the best times he's had in a long time. We took the steam train for that ride. Totally worth it. Say what you want, but I prefer the smell of coal to diesel. Just an FYI the passenger cars do use diesel to generate electricity, so you may smell some exhaust at times. The workers are always willing to answer questions about steam and railroading.

The Day Out with Thomas venture is a lot of fun for the kids but very, very busy and crowded. That's to be expected though. However it's worth going just to see the real Thomas-painted steam engine in action. The first time I saw it start chuffing and puffing, *I* got chills! There are train tables and mega bloks for the kids to play with while waiting for or after rides. Of course you have to exit through the gift shop they set up (if you want the free prize,) but the merchandise, while pricey, is comparable to sourcing the items locally (unless you have an AC Moore coupon for the wooden railway.) There are bounce houses, a petting zoo, and other forms of entertainment and snacks to buy, but the kids are all cramming towards the train tables.

There is also an active Norfolk Southern freight line that passes over the bridge with trains running frequently, something the kids might enjoy viewing. I will state that while this in no way is the fault of DRR Excursions, it is very open towards the active tracks as you walk down the path to get to the station and festivities. Keep a close eye on the kids passing this area. I think NS should put a fence there, just in that spot considering this tourist attraction, but that's NS's call to make.

It is certainly pricier than a NJTransit ride, but remember that this is a non-profit organization, and your dollars go towards preserving history for generations to come. Most of the people who operate it are volunteers. The typical excursion is more reasonable, the Thomas train is pricey, but I imagine it isn't cheap to get a hold of a replica Thomas engine as well as provide the other festivities.

While I make it a point not to go in summer except for the Thomas excursion (and it is hot on that train, I will warn you, for those who don't do heat well) we all enjoy ourselves every time we go. While I'm sure there are fancier operations elsewhere, for where I live in NJ, it's a direct ride and a great time, whether we're riding or just stopping to watch as we explore the rest of the area. And there's no greater rush than seeing that steamer barreling down the line.

Thank jlanda_13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 11, 2013

This year we took our 2nd trip on the Polar Express. We loved it! The kids get so excited and sing and dance. Its such a fun time for all of us. We have made it into a tradition and all wear matching PJs and family pictures. I hope to continue the tradition this year with our extended family and get a big group to go! We are also hoping to try some of their other rides like the Easter Bunny and Pumpkin Patch rides.

1  Thank Amy M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 11, 2013

We have gone on the Thomas Train & The Polar Express. The kids loved it, and it was a great time. I would recommend it to anyone with children. We haven't done any of the other rides, but those two were fun!

Thank sepanskip
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 10, 2013

We did the Easter Bunny Egg Hunt, the Pumpkin Ride and the Polar Express ride last year/
We enjoyed all three train rides. Each one had its own charm - the easter bunny came on the Easter Bunny Egg Hunt and the kids got to pick pumpkins on the pumpkin ride. The Polar express was great with the hot chocolate and the cookies and the little bell..

We truly love this and look forward to adding the Thomas ride this year to all the others that we plan to do !!

Thank Blissfulyhappy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed December 16, 2012

I want to start out with the positives. This is a beautiful train and all of this is run by volunteers. I love having the chance for my kids to experience things like this so we try to support anything like this when we can. The people working there are for the most part, very helpful and friendly. We have been on other "Polar Express" trains (namely the one in New Hope) and I'm using this as a basis of comparison. The trains are nicely decorated with Christmas lights, the excitement of the kids is exciting for everyone to see, the people singing on the train were fun along with the juggler and Santa was quite nice to all of the kids and took pictures with each one. The cost of the tickets are less than the New Hope train. I think in general, most families will have a fun day out on this excursion and I hope people do so that they will continue to run in the future.

That being said, there were some things that will make me stick with New Hope's version of the Polar Express! Most of the differences were fairly minor, but they stood out enough to make me prefer one over the other. The train was chaotic, almost maniacal at times. The cars were PACKED and the noise level was insane. Again, I've been on other crowded Polar Express trains, doing the same activities, but something about this train just made all the adults want to run from it by the end! It was SO, SO hot on the train and none of the windows opened. That alone made some of us feel overwhelmed and overheated. Babyish though it may be, it was kind of a let-down that only the kids got hot chocolate and cookies. On the NH train, everyone gets them and somehow that just lifts everyone's moods, young and old alike. The cup of hot cocoa the kids were given was barely warm (fine, since most are little and they can't have it too hot anyway) but it's also filled only half-way up. Believe me, the kids noticed. :) They had some extra cups at the end of the car and started letting some adults have them. A woman passed them out to some grown ups randomly and she was passing my brother so he asked if he could have one and she handed one to him and barked "Pajamas next time!!!". (Many kids wear their jammies and a few adults). What made that worse than just being rude, was that she gave cups to other adults that were not wearing pajamas. Weird....but rude! I know it's a fun train ride, and you would think that length would be a positive. But overall, this train ride was just too long for the age group it had aboard. The trip outward was a bit over an hour and it was about 45 minutes back. There just came a point where all the kids were restless and the parents were quite ready to get back as well.

I had read reviews of both this train ride and New Hope's and many people said this one was so much better because it was more scenic and the ride itself was more enjoyable. I have to disagree, at least for this ride. We took the 4 pm ride so we could see some scenery but also get the magical feeling of nighttime on the train with the lights. So perhaps I missed something on the latter half of the ride. Yes, the train follows the Delaware River on one side.....but the other side was the backs of houses and people's yards, just like New Hope. And unlike NH, many spots along the way looked litter filled and we even a make-shift camping spot for who knows...but it just wasn't anything to write home about. I know the train company can't account for everything along the way, and it's not their fault, but it just wasn't any nicer the other view.

Again, overall it was a nice ride and the kids had fun. I would probably choose a different option next time....but try it yourself and see what you think. Merry Christmas!

1  Thank aimathy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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