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Photo TR: Thomas Town Media Event at Kennywood!

Fri Aug 03, 2018 12:36 pm

We as a family had an amazing opportunity to represent TPR and cover the media event for the Grand Opening of Kennywood's new addition for 2018 - Thomas Town!! This new kids area welcomes Thomas the Train to the park, along with 4 new kid/family rides, an indoor soft play structure, a new show, and more! We were all in agreement that the new area looks absolutely fantastic! The park did a very nice job incorporating this new area in a space that I never would've guessed would hold as much as it does. Thomas Town is not an expansion of the park's Kiddieland per se, but more like a separate area for kids and families to enjoy together. I realize this may not speak to some of you, but if you have younger kids, this is definitely worth checking out at Kennywood! And that's true if your kids are huge Thomas fans or (like our girls) have only seen an episode or two!

We were all thrilled to be able to attend this event for TPR, and on a personal note I would like to give a HUGE THANKS to Robb for inquiring with Nick (Kennywood's awesome and incredibly friendly PR guy) about having my wife Erin and our two daughters attend as well! Seriously, that was very much appreciated, and you helped give our 3 and a half year old some extra special memories from the moment we told her....and she proceeded to jump up and down saying "Daddy, I'm SO EXCITED!!!" :b =)

Speaking of our lovely daughters, I'd like to introduce our special little riders that were the perfect audience to test out this new area. Our oldest is Morgan, an energetic toddler who loves rides and keeping us on our toes, haha! Our youngest, Molly, is almost 11 months old and seems to be developing the "riding gene" just like her big sister! ;)

Morgan was super excited for Thomas Town!
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Molly was (subtly) excited too!
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Backstory Time....
(**Feel free to skip this to get to the pictures!**)

Going to parks has taken on a whole new meaning for us, as we just love watching them light up with that special "magic look" in their eyes when we go to places like Kennywood. Truth be told, this is even more special for us considering their own backstory. Some of you may remember the story I shared years ago about our struggles to even have Morgan (Our Journey), which led to us calling her our "little miracle". Well, as it turned out, Erin got pregnant naturally with Molly (much to our surprise and delight!), but it was her birth that sent us on a whole new type of roller coaster.

Late in the pregnancy, Molly developed a condition known as HIE. Essentially, she was getting starved of blood flow and oxygen....thankfully, due to a weekly appointment, we were rushed to the hospital for an emergency C-section on Sept. 7th. Unknown to us at the time, Molly was unresponsive at birth and needed resuscitated "behind the curtain". She was then rushed to the NICU, where the gravity of the situation became all too clear for us. We were told about the HIE, and that she had suffered trauma, the biggest of which being damage to her brain. Our world was rocked to our core. After dealing with seizures that first night, she went through a body cooling process to limit the extent of her brain injuries. After an MRI revealed "moderate brain damage", we started a whirlwind journey of 5 weeks in the NICU! It was exhausting, frightening, and one of the most surreal experiences of our lives. This was where Molly earned her nickname of "Mighty Molly", as she battled and fought through every obstacle and setback! After her 5 week stay, she finally came home. Her massive team of doctors, neurologists, specialists, and therapists were absolutely incredible.....in fact, there's no question to me they saved her life!

Fast forward to now, and Molly continues to amaze us and defy all odds! =) She has a team of therapists that work with her weekly, and her doctors tell us that they are not used to seeing such progress for a baby with an MRI that looked like hers. She did suffer some substantial damage to her hearing as a side effect of the HIE, but thanks to amazing technology, she now has baby hearing aids that are working wonders! Other than that, we just have to wait and see what may lie ahead for Molly medically. In the meantime, we cherish every minute watching her grow and develop! Simple milestones take on a whole new meaning considering how far she's come!! We are incredibly blessed and fortunate! So yeah, as I said above, spending time with the girls and heading off to parks is just a magical experience for Erin and I!! :)

(**Enter here for the pictures!**)

So, without further ado, let's hop aboard for a photo journey to check out Kennywood's Thomas Town!!!

Ready for some media event FUN!
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Eagerly awaiting the ribbon cutting! ;)
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The main entrance to Thomas Town is so nicely done!
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Thomas Town blends in great and is bigger than I envisioned
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The new buildings look very nice
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They have little Thomas themed signs on them too
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After scoping out the area from the outside, it was time to head over to the stage to officially kick off the day's festivities! There were some opening remarks from Nick, the aforementioned Kennywood PR director (and a couple other dignitaries), then we went back over to the entrance to "cut the ribbon" and OPEN Thomas Town!! They had a family there from New Hampshire that won a contest and their kiddos got to cut the ribbon officially.

Nick's opening comments.....such a nice guy!
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Welcome to Thomas Town!!
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Molly wasn't so sure about Sir Topham Hatt, haha!
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While Morgan chose to go with the "awkward hug", haha!
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With Thomas Town now officially open, we headed in to take a look....which for Morgan meant time to excitedly check out the RIDES!! Along with the re-imagined Kennywood Railroad that has now become Journey with Thomas, there are 4 new rides that kids and families can ride together! They are:

  • Flynn's Fire Training - This ride is adorable, and Morgan's favorite! As the ride circles, people in the ladder bucket move up and down and can shoot water to put out the "flames" in the middle building!
  • Diesel Drivers - Hop aboard a Driver for a relaxing couple trips around an oval course. Simple, but effective!
  • Harold's Helicopter Tour - Another really cute ride, this one looks great and is plenty roomy for parents to ride with their kids! They can control their helicopter and raise it up and drop it down.
  • Cranky's Drop Tower - This is the tallest ride in Thomas Town, and is the only one with a slightly higher height requirement at 42". I gotta say, this ride was SO MUCH FUN!!! It feels taller when you're on it, and it runs a nice long program with plenty of bouncy drops!!

Let's check them out, shall we? ;)

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On Flynn's, you can ride in the fire truck down below.....
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But the more FUN ride is up top, where you can fight the fire!
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So, Morgan made it through her first "ride breakdown", haha! Our ladder/cart got stuck at the top.....here, she is sharing a lovely story with the crew about how she "can't ride the big rides just yet, but I want to ride them! So I eat my vitamins now, and sometimes vegetables....but they're not always my favorite! Then I can ride THAT ONE!! (Points to Thunderbolt)" Hahahaha!!!
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Diesel Drivers overview (thanks to being stuck on Flynn's)
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Taking it for a spin! You may notice some coaster track in the middle, along with some old Log Jammer parts....a pretty cool touch!
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I liked the landscaping around this one
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Ready to take our flight!
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My adorable pilot :)
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I like the "Cranky" details at the top of the tower!
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Going up!
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Morgan was a little bummed she couldn't ride this one, but she wanted to cheer me on! "You can do it Daddy, I know you can!!" ;)
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Two BIG thumbs up for Cranky's Drop Tower!!
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Obviously though, the big star here is Thomas himself! The Kennywood Railroad was altered slightly to account for Thomas, including a new shell over the engine, some new/replaced track, and a rerouted queue where you now enter on the other side of the station after going over a new railroad crossing. This "infield" area is also where Cranky's Drop Tower resides, along with Tidmouth Sheds, which also has a show that plays a few times each day (we sadly did not catch the show this trip, but I've heard it's really cute!) After some morning hiccups getting going, Journey with Thomas opened up in the late morning/early afternoon, so we headed back to take a ride. Incidentally, the line for Thomas that day was consistently spilling out of the new (and much bigger) queue....if that's any indication, then mission accomplished, Kennywood!! ;)

The updated Kennywood Station
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The big star - Thomas!
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The girls checking out Thomas
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I love how this one of Morgan and I turned out! <3
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Heading out on his inaugural journey
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Hello there, Mr. Conductor!!
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My lovely ladies are ready....all aboard!! :)
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The ride route is essentially the same as Kennywood Railroad.....
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....but the signs heading to the turnaround have been updated accordingly!
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I was happy to see they kept the old clock and landscaping in place at the turnaround
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Greetings from Pittsburgh!
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Molly was a big fan of Thomas, one of the few rides she can enjoy....for now! ;)
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A look at Tidmouth Sheds
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The new railroad crossing
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Thomas Town has plenty of places to sit and relax....and the benches are "Morgan approved"! Haha
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Taking a cue from Morgan, let's take a little breather and wrap up this first portion of our media event report! The second part (coming up soon!) will cover some other Thomas Town offerings, a little sprinkling of other Kennywood fun, and perhaps.......perhaps a little peek at a certain construction area in the back of the park! ;) Hope you all enjoy this first installment! Part two is coming your way soon....stay tuned!!

Re: Photo TR: Thomas Town Media Event at Kennywood!

Fri Aug 03, 2018 9:12 pm

Fantastic!!! =) =) =) Such a cute area! Love the pictures and can't wait for Part 2!

Re: Photo TR: Thomas Town Media Event at Kennywood!

Sun Aug 05, 2018 3:48 pm

The addition looks really nice. Kids should love it. Thanks for the nice report and photos.

Re: Photo TR: Thomas Town Media Event at Kennywood!

Mon Aug 06, 2018 12:24 am

Looks really great! It's really special to see how kids react to theme parks. Once I went off to college, I really didn't go to theme parks much until my oldest was about 3 1/2. We took her to Silver Dollar City and she loved it, and that's what got me back into the hobby. You really get to appreciate all the little things parks do that have nothing to do with adrenaline rush. Visiting a park with little kids can actually be quite relaxing since most of the park is not for them, and no one waits an hour for the things they can ride.

Congratulations on Molly's progress. I've got a kid with special needs too, so I totally get celebrating all those little things that you don't appreciate unless they're achieved with a lot of work.

Re: Photo TR: Thomas Town Media Event at Kennywood!

Mon Aug 06, 2018 4:26 pm

Thanks so much for not only sharing Kennywood's Thomas Town opening, but also allowing us to remember the magic of theme parks from the eyes of a child. Morgan and Molly's smiles are a beautiful beginning to all the fun adventures that life has in store for them - and for your beautiful family! =) =)


Re: Photo TR: Thomas Town Media Event at Kennywood!

Mon Aug 06, 2018 4:33 pm

:lol: Molly knows where her camera marks are, LOL! She's a natural model!

Great TR on your Thomas Town visit. I have been thru at least two of these, around
the world (Fuji-Q and Drayton Manor, I remember) and they seemed to work
really well with families having small children.

Your TR was great, glad that the girls enjoyed their TT visit, and you all enjoyed yourself, too.

Re: Photo TR: Thomas Town Media Event at Kennywood!

Tue Aug 07, 2018 8:30 pm

Great report! Thomas Town looks really good. In terms of theming, it looks somewhere in between the old ones at Six Flags and Fuji-Q's (with the latter being the gold standard).
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