My family and I had the pleasure of being invited to spend some time at The Choo Choo Barn in Strasburg, PA during their wonderful sensory friendly hours. The second Tuesday night of every month from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm, March-December 2016. , The Choo Choo Barn hosts a sensory friendly night. During these hours, the Choo Choo Barn has made it friendly to kids with sensory issues, like my son, by doing thing like covering mirrors, posting stop signs over all exit signs, turning off the sirens for the fire truck and much more. What I was amazed to hear was in order to make sure they were making it sensory friendly, Choo Choo Barn consulted with local autism experts from Schreiber Pediatric Rehab Center.. How amazing is that! You can read more about their sensory friendly hours and how to RSVP to attend on their website, here.
When we arrived at The Choo Choo Barn we were excited to explore the 1700 sq. foot model train layout. We picked up a scavenger hunt paper and headed in to explore! Both my kids were excited the moment they walked inside the train area. It was HUGE! There were trains running, different exhibits moving and buttons to push for some interactive fun. My son went into complete sensory overload the moment we stepped inside. There were so many things for him to see. He ran around and around the display over and over. One wonderful thing about sensory friendly night, that we didn’t have to worry about anyone getting upset over my son being so active and screeching or stimming during or visit. He was just able to have fun.
My daughter and I decided to start looking for the items on our scavenger list first, as my son ran around following the trains. We went item by item, finding each one throughout the display. I turned it into a little lesson time for my daughter, which I loved. We discussed different things we saw, looked for fun PA landmarks they had displayed, like Dutch Wonderland and found all the items on our list. She had such a blast learning and searching and I enjoyed that she got to do both during our visit.
After we were done with the hunt, we stayed by my husband and son, looking over all the things we may have missed. There were so many small details, that we spent hours there and still did not discover everything. We saw things like a troll under a bridge, watched a house fire be put out by the fire department and even found Thomas the Train! We even got to see some models of how the displays are put together and made to move.
Throughout the time we were visiting, there were set times where the lights would go down and it would turn to “night” throughout the train layout. Lights would come on for the houses, vehicles lights would also turn on and night began. It was so neat to watch and my kids both thought it was one of the best parts of the visit.
After spending time watching my son just chase trains through the tunnel, we headed out to the gift shop. The kids found so many neat things there, like train books and toys. My daughter even found little dragons she could get. They had so many neat items for sale. We spent half an hour in the store just looking at everything and letting the kids play. The owners were so beyond friendly, they talked to my husband and I about some of the history of The Choo Choo Barn and never once complained about my kids touching all of the toys or about my son running in and out of the model train area. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to visit a place and be treated so kindly by the owners.
After staying well past closing time with my kids, we headed home. But, we will be going back very soon for sure. The Choo Choo Barn was such a fun experience for my kids and the sensory friendly hours made it a place where my son could run and have fun without any meltdowns the whole time.
Thanks so much to The Choo Choo Barn for having my family and I. We loved every minute we got to spend at your wonderful place and can’t wait to be back this summer! For their hours, rates, directions and much more, please visit their website at: choochoobarn.com.
**I was invited to The Choo Choo Barn’s Sensory Friendly Night in exchange for my review. The opinions in this post are all of my own and in no way influenced by the owners of The Choo Choo Barn.**