Edaville Railroad is a Massachusetts experience. Based in Carver, MA, it is a fun oasis for many families. For those that have not been to Edaville Railroad Festival of Lights, or haven’t been in years, I encourage your families’ to consider going. Here is why.
It is magical.
The music, the sights, and the lights. The displays, the trains, a visit with Santa if you are so inclined and, new for this year, a special train ride on the Polar Express. Not to forget the hot chocolate, warm fried dough and many, many memories!
If you want to experience the new Polar Express, there will be trains on December 12, 13, 24 & 31st. Trains depart at 4:30pm, 5:30pm, 6:30pm and 7:30pm (takes about 40 minutes) and you will have full access to the park (with kiddie rides) from 4-9pm. The Edaville Polar Express will transport everyone to the North Pole. There Santa will board the train and greet the children, each receiving their own jingle bell just as in the story. Enjoy a reading of the book, carols by costumed Chefs and over 7 million Christmas lights!!! Hot chocolate and cookies will be served in the white tent after the ride. The cost is $30 per person, but kids under 2 are free. And yes, the trains are heated!
In addition to the Polar Express festivities, there is also the Festival of Lights. It will be open weekdays from 4-9pm and weekends from 2pm-9pm from now until January 1st (they are closed December 12 and 13th and on Christmas Day). The cost is $18 for people ages 2-64, $16 ages 65+ and kids under age 2 are free. It includes unlimited basic train rides (takes about 20 minutes and the trains are heated), park activities and kiddie rides.
If you have younger children, the best time to go is around 4pm. Fresh from naps, they can be ready for some fun. It is also semi-dark around that time so you can get the wow factor when you pull into the parking lot. For those kiddos that need their beauty sleep, it will probably give you two to three hours of fun so you can head home in time for bed.
Make sure to bundle up! You will be outside 99% of the time. So think in terms of long-johns, hand-warmers and scarfs. You can always take off layers, but if you go un-prepared, the kids will be freezing before you get to the back of the park.
When you get to Edaville, there is a tendency to get caught up in the lights and sights, but I suggest heading to the train first. Everyone else will be oohing and ahhing over the lights, so the train line, earlier in the night, is shorter and quicker. The later it gets, the longer the line and the more likely the tantrums. Plus, if you need to leave the park early, you don’t want to have missed the train ride, which comprises most of the ticket cost. Then, if you have time and the line is not too long, you can go again since the tickets allow for unlimited train rides.
Then you can leisurely wander around and take in the ambiance of the season. If you are Santa fans, they have a Santa’s Village in the large brick building near the back left of the park. There is an extra cost for Santa photos and, at times, there can be long lines. So it might be something to check out, but be ready to pass it up too if it is too busy. There is also an indoor play space for younger kids. This may be a great place to warm up, but be prepared for a lot of other people doing the same thing. Personally, I think if you are going to do the Edaville Festival of Lights, by-pass this section if you can. Otherwise, it may be hard to get the kids to go back out in the cold and see the lights.
There are plenty of kid rides to enjoy (total of 11 or so), but there are height limits on many of them. So for kids under 2, don’t expect them to be able to go on much. For other rides, the younger kids might make the height requirement, but they often have to go on alone. So depending on how trustworthy your 22 month old is to stay sitting on the ride, you may want to pass those too. However, there are many little wooden trains for them to climb in and explore, and some of the rides a parent can accompany their child, so you do get a decent smattering of rides to experience.
The older ones have more to choose from, like a Ferris Wheel. Edaville Railroad’s website has a section that lists the rides and the height requirements so it is a great resource to check out before you go.
They have concession stands, which is a great option for fried dough or hot chocolate. They also have a cafeteria where you can get drinks and hot dogs, but it can get busy. So it might be best to bring some snack bars while you wait. However, you can bring a picnic. They have picnic tables at the front of the park if you want that option.
Parking is free. It is about an hour’s drive from the Boston area and if you follow Edaville on Facebook and/or Twitter, they may be offering more details and discounts. Also, check out their 4 minute video. If you fast-forward to the 2 minute mark, you can get a sneak peek of what the Festival of Lights is like before you decide if the trip is right for you family.
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