Orange Empire Railway Museum | Train to Santa’s Workshop
Clearly all that the toddlers really care for is to have fun, eat sweets and play games. The Orange empire Railway museum attempted to accomplish all three with good intentions in mind however were a bit poor on execution. The concept of the Orange Empire Railway Museum is amazing. You can see that the project was well intended, there’s plenty of space allocated for the trains and there are several hangars with classical open for the public. However, the Train to Santa’s Workshop at the museum was a big time flop, didn’t worth the drive, the time and certainly the money. Scroll all the way down if you’d like to see the conclusive note.
1. The Ride
When the train that some people waited an hour for took off the level of excitement was at the tip of the hiatus with kids lurking around, peaking out of the windows and enjoying the unexpected atmosphere of the unknown. Soon the joyful anticipation changed on children’s faces to a quizzical appearance. You could easily see questionable frowns on parents’ faces as well as the train progressed through some of the poorest and visually depressing neighborhood in all of California. Seriously the place reminded me of the third world countries. Broken shacks, that were beyond building code violation. Pieces of garbage thrown to the left and right of the railway track. A couple of raggedy druggies shooting up in a sewer pipe completed the picture. The whole place reminded me of Detroit or the rural East Coast towns.
But even in that gloomy place our dude was able to bring the cheer back to us simply by pointing at the skies. He said something like “Angeles” – while pointing at the descending parachutist.
Oder kids on the train didn’t hide their disappointed to parents. Even a well-dressed semi-retired Elf who was giving out penny-candy and sporadically yelling in between coughs was not enough to pacify children’s unsatisfied anticipation.
We have a toddler, who didn’t even know what was going on, so it was much easier. I think he was already ecstatic just to be on a train. BTW, just to point out the present packages that we received as children consisted a little more than just a broken peppermint stick in a see-through clear bag.
The train went off from the train station a few hundred yards and then slowly rolled back into the train depot…. that was like the built up to visiting Santa’s work shop.
2. Hunger games
As the train arrived into one of the barn depots – Santa’s workshop, we were greeted by a few decorations, lights and typical Christmas stuff… Alright, we were getting exciting again. The wave of parents and tiny humans disembarked into the festive space. There were 3 tables with train sets, 1 table with LEGO-like toys and 2 tables dedicated to paining and creating Christmas decorations. Clearly all the kids went straight for the miniature train sets and thus the hunger games commenced. Screaming, pulling occasional punches were thrown by the toddlers as they were competing for a minute space at the table. They were pushing the small train toys a few inches on the tracks just as another kid (typically bigger one) would snatch the toy away and continue the chaotic ritual. Parents were nesting around the kids an tables (of course wearing the backpacks with all the useful stuff that toddlers need), also bumping into each other without the violent outbreaks though.
3. Survival of the fittest
Kids continued their miniature table warfare, occasionally falling down into tantrums, after another steal or an unprovoked smack on the head or the face with a train by a bigger kid. Parents continued shouting “share” or “no, we don’t do that” – sounds like your idea of fun? Well, then you might be in for a treat. Not to brag, but I think we have more train sets and trains at our house than this play space provided (mind you we’re not well off). Anyhow, the massacre carried on for almost an hour.
4. Picture with Claus
Savvier parents went to send into an infinite line to take a picture with Santa… yes… the parents… Clearly toddlers cared very little about taking a photo with a bearded stranger. Many adults spend like forever actually taking a picture with the Santa with no kid in the vicinity… that’s when my wife just exited the line after standing there for half an hour without much of advancement.
5. The aftermath
Survivals of the Santa’s workshop carried on to explore the grounds. Now that the stressful part was over we could actually go an check out the old steamers, which was the whole purpose of this trip.
Our kid absolutely loves trains. In fact, I’m sure that he would want to become a train engineer if the profession was still around in our days. We play with trains for at least an hour or two every day. Seeing huge trains live was very impressive and clearly brought immeasurable enjoyment for our son. He made the “toot toot” sounds, peaked into the windows and actually walked through the historical boxcars.
We also had a VIP experience of riding one of the San Diego tramways right in the operator booth…. That was totally awesome.
Then we went to check out some of the old LA’s trains and the San Francisco’s cable cars. The whole second part of our trip was less violent and a whole lot pleasant. We also saw the miniature toy trains set up in the main tent, that was pretty mesmerizing.
Don’t go to Orange Empire Railway Museum on Christmas or events when you have to pay. Just check it out for FREE on a regular day with your kids.