Calera, Alabama (nearby) is home to the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum and that has been the location of many a photography class outing. Lots of old engines and cars to photograph, and lots of rust. Last weekend it was the site of a Day Out with Thomas the Tank Engine. I've never seen the TV show, or read any of the books (neither has Mason), but it included a short train ride, so we all decided to take Mason out for the adventure.
When you really look at Thomas, he/it is really not the engine of the train, but a caboose dressed up to look like a cartoon engine, complete with a little steam out the stack on occasion. The real engine is a modern diesel/electric version on the other end of the train. Passenger cars ranged from open air on wooden benches to full sized air conditioned cars at the other end from Thomas.
Unsure of the weather when I made the reservations, I opted for the air conditioned comfort, although it turned out to be a beautiful day. Six people in four leather chairs facing each other. It was quite comfortable, since two were quite small.
Even though I don't think Mason understood a lot of what was going on, he did give me a good pose by one of the real trains at the museum.
One of the additional attractions that day was Sir Topham Hat. Kids were lining up to get their picture made with this thing which had an actual living being inside it, and it walked around.
When I look at him/it closely, though, it sort of creeps me out, like the Burger King, and it just seems wrong on several levels to send your kid in with this thing to hold it's stiff fat hand.