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All aboard Blowing Rock's Tweetsie Railroad for family fun

Asheville Citzen Times

Original Article »

May 13, 2011

If high gas prices have you wondering where to take the family on vacation, consider the old-timey kitschy fun of Tweetsie Railroad.

The 200-acre Wild West theme park between Boone and Blowing Rock has been thrilling young and old since July 4, 1957. In addition to boat rides, clogging demonstrations, gem mining and various carnival foods, the train still gets ambushed by a fierce tribe of Native Americans daily after all these years.

“Our train show is pretty much the same as it has always been: a mixture of excitement, action and comedy,” Tweetsie President Chris Robbins said. “It's a spoof of all the popular characters from the Old West. Nobody gets hurt, and justice always prevails.”

He added, “Adults and kids both will find our train show funny, but kids especially will be thrilled — and, yes, maybe a little startled — by the Wild West action. I think the vast majority of our guests would tell you that the show is not offensive nor demeaning to any group.”

Train ride aside, there are other adventures to embark on while visiting the park depending on when you visit:

• From June 3-12, Thomas the Tank Engine, his friend Sir Topham Hatt and other characters from the Imagination Station will pull into Tweetsie.

• PBS cartoon characters Dora the Explorer and Diego will be around June 24-26.

• The park is open later hours July 2, 9 and 16 to offer movies, live music and a chuck wagon dinner as part of their Cool Summer Nights promotion.

There's also a sense of history that can be appreciated by those even with only a rudimentary amount of railroad knowledge.

“Tweetsie Railroad has historical significance, since the theme park was descended from a railroad that actually served the Boone-Blowing Rock area until 1940,” Robbins said.

“It's one of the few places to see real coal-fired steam locomotives in operation,” he said. “Tweetsie Railroad is a fairly compact theme park and it's uncommon to see long lines, and that makes it a relaxed day for families with younger children.”

The park is about a two-hour drive from Asheville, making it an even more popular destination for those needing a less inexpensive alternative to Disney or a weekend at the beach.

“We're not really a ‘big operation,' but the park's accessibility, popularity and enduring appeal have helped it to thrive through many recessions and ‘gas crises,'” Robbins said. “Families value the classic family fun at Tweetsie, and the amazing mountain scenery of the region.”


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