EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Boston and Beyond

June 16, 2014

Thomas the Tank Engine comes to Edaville

BOSTON — Thomas the Tank Engine, the iconic talking cartoon train that has thrilled millions of children around the world, and Edaville USA Railroad, a favorite destination of generations of southeastern New England families, are teaming up on a permanent Thomas-themed park.

Groundbreaking on the first Thomas Land in the U.S. is scheduled for next month, and the park is expected to open for business in summer 2015. There are two other Thomas Lands, in the United Kingdom and Japan, but the Carver version would be the biggest.

“Thomas fits Edaville like a glove,” Edaville owner Jon Delli Priscoli said.

Thomas Land, being built on about 11 of Edaville’s 250 acres, will have 14 rides based on the television show, with the highlight being a 20-minute train ride on a life-sized Thomas the Tank Engine. A roller coaster, drop tower, Ferris wheel and other rides will feature more Thomas characters, including Toby, Cranky the Crane and Harold the Helicopter. Children will even be able to meet Sir Topham Hatt, the railroad’s administrator.

Edaville, which is still an active cranberry farm, and Carver are the perfect spot for Thomas Land, said Julie Freeland, director of live events for Hit Entertainment, a division of Fisher-Price, which owns the Thomas brand.

The company has had a relationship with Edaville for more than decade with the “Day Out with Thomas” tour. Carver is near Boston and Providence, Rhode Island, yet has a rural feel similar to the mythical island of Sodor, where Thomas and his friends do their hauling and shunting.

“The first time I went to Edaville I said, ‘This is Sodor,’” Freeland said.

Edaville began operating as a tourist railroad in 1947, after Ellis D. Atwood bought abandoned railcars from a defunct railroad to carry cranberries and workers across his 1,500 acres of cranberry bogs. The train was named using Atwood’s initials: EDA.

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