We enjoyed a wonderful visit to the Miniature World of Trains earlier today with the whole family! We visited MWOT on a Saturday in the early afternoon with a large family of boys and girls ranging from 12 years old to 4 years old.
As we walked up to the door, train sounds played over some outdoor speakers, beckoning you inside. At $5 per person, it's really reasonably priced for such a fun and unique experience in downtown Greenville. An absurd earlier review commented that it should be free. Give me a break! As I said, we got a lot of fun for a small admission fee.
Once inside, we took in the huge train display. It was amazing. The mountain range of the display climbs to 12 and a half feet high. The trains run around the base of the display, as well as at several different heights on the mountain. The display is divided into several different areas, including a cityscape, a trainyard, and a wilderness / farmland area. Many tunnels cut through the mountain here and there to allow passage for the trains from one area to the next. There is so much to see here - you just have to look!
There are several notable things about the display that you should be sure to see. I loved the cityscape. There were buildings, vehicles, people, trees - the whole works. It even had working traffic lights that were tiny! They were smaller than a dime but still had the green-yellow-red sequence that lit up correctly in each direction. As you walk around the display, speakers play sounds of train radio chatter - pretty cool! And it's really amazing what the computers they have can do with the display. Trains pull into a station and stop while a different train gets underway for a lap. Then that train pulls in and yet another train pulls out for a lap. You can see trains stop to let other train traffic go by before they continue on their way.
I have to say, my favorite part of the display is when they turn the lights off to simulate night. Lights shine in the windows of the city buildings, train traffic signal lights are more easily seen, and they even have animated billboards! Tiny little billboards that go through a light sequence as they spell out the name of their company! They turn off the lights about once an hour for maybe 10-15 minutes.
To help you take in the whole train display, there is a scavenger hunt that my kids absolutely loved. You can grab a scavenger hunt sheet on your way in if you like. There are about 15 questions on the sheet as I recall, and they are all meant to engage you in the display. How many cows are on the farms? How many restaurants are in the city? How many zombies (yes, zombies!) are in the city? One hint: some of the questions are meant to get you to interact with the wonderful staff of volunteers here at MWOT. (Such as the height of the mountain.) The staff loves to answer questions about the display, the trains, the future plans for MWOT - anything. And they really enjoyed interacting with my kids, no matter how repetitive or absurd the question was that they got.
I should take a moment to mention that the MWOT also has a museum area with some items of interest from the history of trains, as well as some items available to purchase in the front lobby/ticket area including beginner trains sets. Also, they are testing the concept and hope to have a good enough response to move to a larger location and have larger displays. And finally, they have a delightful holiday train display around November and December that you simply have to come see.
So, if you wanted to come in and only spend 10 minutes walking around, you certainly could. Quite frankly, you could do the same thing in the Sistine Chapel or at the Louvre if you were so inclined - you would probably enjoy it, but you would also miss an awful lot. Instead, I recommend that you come in and give it a good hour, or at least enough time to cycle through a nighttime sequence. Do the scavenger hunt with your kids (or by yourself!) to get them to notice some of the minute details they put into the display. Take a look at the museum items. And one of my favorite things - hold your camera steady on the rail that circles the display and get a video roll of a train rolling by. Then look at it later and see how real it looks. However you decide to spend your time, the Miniature World of Trains is worth a look!
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