Explore the rails at Discovery Center Museum’s Thomas & Friends exhibit

All aboard! Everyone’s favorite tank engine, Thomas, has rolled into the Discovery Center Museum in Rockford. The timing of the exhibit could not be better, too, since cabin fever has got us all needing a little road trip.

Thomas, Percy, Gordon and other friends await you, along with hands-on STEM activities and plenty of fun. Kids ages 2-7 will love the chance to see all their favorite characters from the Isle of Sodor up close! Here’s what you can expect:

Check out Thomas’ cab.

Choo choo! Hop inside Thomas’ cab and explore his inner workings, twisting knobs and lifting levers to see which noises you can trigger. Once kids have checked out big Thomas, see how many smaller Thomas trains they can find around the exhibit!

Travel through the Isle of Sodor.

A giant Thomas wooden train table displays everyone’s favorite locations in the Isle of Sodor, including Brendam Stocks, Tidmouth Sheds and the Search & Rescue Station. Locomotive lovers can plan a route, choose which train cars to magnetically connect, then take their engines through the tunnels and bridges of town.

Load up the train.

Sort and load food, livestock and luggage onto the train. Visitors must make sure the freight is stacked neatly so that the train can leave the station on time.

Help Percy out.

Oh no, Percy has a wobbly wheel! Not to worry though, your little museum-goers can fix it in a jiffy! Kids have the chance to investigate and repair the wheel problem by figuring which rods, wheels and bolts will do the trick. Next, work with friends to help Percy make his deliveries by filling his water tank and coal box. Teamwork always makes solving problems easier!

Play dress up.

Who doesn’t love playing pretend? Imagination will abound when your kids get into character. Little ones can dress up as the conductor and sell train tickets to their friends. Older kids can help count out the pretend money and make sure they have enough for tickets.

Take some pics.

From posing with their favorite engines to looking sharp in the train conductor’s costume, parents will find plenty of photo ops for their kids around the exhibit. What a great way to preserve memories of your special day with Thomas and his friends.

Attend special events.

The Thomas & Friends exhibit is also hosting a couple of events this winter:

Thomas Pajama Party

When: Feb. 7, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Come dressed in your PJs. Milk and cookies will be served, special songs and stories shared and kids will have a chance to explore the exhibit.

Workin’ on the Railroad

When: Feb. 17, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Kids can design and create their own wooden train car, then play with model trains on loan from the National Model Train Association. Included with admission to the Thomas & Friends exhibit.


If you go

Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails!

Discovery Center Museum, 711 N. Main St., Rockford

Open now through May 12

$11 for adults and children, $1 for museum members. Price also includes general admission to the museum.

The exhibit is translated into both English and Spanish so everyone can enjoy.

Find more information at discoverycentermuseum.org.


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