When Halloween rolls around, your kids can’t get enough of the PEANUTS’ classic, It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. If you’re not reading the story nightly all Halloween season long, your kids are asking you to queue up the cartoon. So why not make your kids’ day by bringing this classic to life with a ride on the Mt. Rainier Railroad & Logging Museum’s Great Pumpkin Patch Express. It’s Charlie, Snoopy and the most sincere pumpkin patch this side of the Cascades, with a train ride to boot. Read on then save your seat!
From special gift shop items at the station to engaging activities on the train ride out to Elbe, families will be immersed in the world of PEANUTS from the get go…and that’s what we love about this experience. Once the train pulls out of the station, kids are treated to the fabled PEANUTS tale, read aloud, complete with pictures (as if they didn’t have it mostly memorized) during the trip. It’s a chance for everyone to sit back and be entertained as you watch the trees, decked out in their fall best, pass by outside your window. Once the tale of Linus’s quest to lure the Great Pumpkin to his patch is over, it’s time for the kids to write a letter to the Great Pumpkin, before the train pulls into the Logging Museum station in Mineral, where families will find Snoopy and Charlie Brown waiting for them. We suggest stopping by the tent that’s set up just past the train when you arrive, so your kids can pick up a treat bag full of PEANUTS-themed goodies (and have a place to put their candy collection from Trick or Treat Street).
Take a Seat
Whether you choose Standard or First class seats for your excursion, you and the kids will be taking the 45-minute train ride between Elbe and Mineral in style. 1950’s era Amtrak coaches with forward facing, paired seats are what your Standard class ticket will buy ($25-$45). And depending on the train’s capacity, you and your crew might be able to turn the seats to face each other, so you can chat and gab during the ride. First class tickets ($35-$55) give you passage on 1950’s Tacoma Rail and 1940’s Olympian Hiawatha coaches. The seats here are booth style (think restaurant) and also include the attention of a car attendant, complimentary snacks and activities to keep youngsters busy for the ride.
Go for Tricks or Treats
Charlie Brown may get rocks in his trick-or-treat bag, but your Littles will score plenty of the good stuff when they hit the shops (the museum buildings just beyond the train tracks) on Trick or Treat Street. If they’re decked out in full Halloween regalia it adds to the fun, but if they’re saving that special costume for Halloween night, that works too. All they need to participate is something to gather their goodies in as they duck in and out of the buildings lining the street (psst…kids will get a PEANUTS-themed goodie bag when they arrive; it works well to hold candy). But they won’t just find candy in these buildings. There’s face painting and crafting stations too, so make sure to check out each one!
Meet & Greet with Your Favorite Characters
Charlie Brown and Snoopy are there to greet visitors when the train pulls into the station. And although your kid’s instinct might be to make a mad dash to see them, it’s okay to hold back. Both Charlie and Snoopy take up stations around the property where families can snap pics in front of cute backgrounds with your favorite PEANUTS characters. These larger than life pals usually set up outside the train warehouses, so families can snap a quick pic and then peruse the historic engines housed there. After you get the perfect picture, it’s time to head back to Linus’s pumpkin patch.
Spend Time in the Most Sincere Pumpkin Patch
Beyond the train warehouses is Linus’ pumpkin patch, where he sits and waits for the Great Pumpkin to make a moonlit appearance. But your kids can visit during the daytime and pick out the cutest little pumpkin they ever did see from the hundreds scattered around the haystacks. These pint-sized take home treasures are sure to be a hit with your kiddos. As you plan your day, we recommend leaving enough time for your kids to find just the right pumpkin, and play a few over-sized games before you have to head back to the train for the return trip. And don’t worry about wearing boots; this pumpkin patch is covered so it’s never too wet and isn’t at all muddy.
Good to Know:
1. Although costumes are optional, they are encouraged for this train ride (you too, parents). Any chance to wear it more than once, amiright?
2. Splurge for the $4 parking when you buy your tickets. It’s so worth knowing you’ve got a quick and easy spot waiting for you when you’re flying down the highway from the city.
3. Standard class tickets don’t include a reserved seat, but getting seats together is pretty easy if you arrive early enough.
54124 Mountain Highway E.
Elbe, Wa 98330
Dates: Oct. 13, 14, 20 & 21, 2018
Times: 10 a.m., 1 p.m. & 4 p.m.
Cost: $55/First class adults; $35/First class kids; $45/Standard class adults, $25/Standard class kids (2-11); lap infants (2 & under) Free
—Allison Sutcliffe, all photos courtesy of the writer