9 JUN, 2014

St. Paul, MN and New York, NY (June 9, 2014) - The world’s most beloved #1 blue engine rolls into Minnesota Children’s Museum this summer. Thomas & Friends®: Explore the Rails, an interactive exhibit created by Minnesota Children’s Museum and inspired by the popular children’s series on PBS KIDS in the US, and Treehouse and Télé-Québec in Canada, will steam into St. Paul on June 14th for a 3 month stay through September 21, 2014.  After leaving St. Paul, the exhibit will embark on a 10-year North American tour including stops in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Québec. 

The Thomas & Friends exhibit was designed and developed by Minnesota Children’s Museum in partnership with HIT Entertainment, a subsidiary of Mattel, Inc.  Fisher-Price, the #1 Infant/Preschool Toys manufacturer[1], is the presenting sponsor for the exhibit.  3M is the national tour sponsor. 

Featuring the favorite engines and destinations from Thomas & Friends, the STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Math) -focused exhibit seeks to engage children, ages 2 through 7 years, and families in foundational skills that foster STEM literacy through playful learning experiences.  The exhibit incorporates foundational STEM practices that encourage thinking mathematically, making comparisons, experimenting to solve problems using a variety of methods and tools, thinking creatively and reflecting on actions and results.

“The skills and proficiencies children learn and refine through play in the early years set the stage for future learning and success from the kindergarten classroom to the workplace,” said Dianne Krizan, President of Minnesota Children’s Museum.  “Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails will deliver high-quality playful learning experiences rooted in science, technology, engineering and math for millions of children across the continent.”

Visitors to the 1500 square foot exhibit will be delighted as they find themselves surrounded by the Island of Sodor’s iconic locations: Knapford Station, Sodor Steamworks and much more. In the exhibit, children help Thomas and his friends solve a variety of challenges, from a simple sorting and shape identification activity to more complex engineering obstacles, such as completing a train track using track pieces with different levels of elevation. As children confront new challenges and test their abilities, the smiling faces of Thomas, Percy, Victor and others are there to offer encouragement and remind children how “really useful” they all are.

Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails brings to life kids’ favorite characters and destinations from the Island of Sodor in a fun and educational way,” said Sid Mathur, Vice President, The Americas, HIT Entertainment.  “With their expertise and creativity in designing and producing top-rate interactive experiences for kids, the Minnesota Children’s Museum has been an enthusiastic partner developing this exhibit and delivering to fans a new way to experience the brand.”

Inside the Exhibit:

  • Climb into Thomas’ cab and explore the engine’s inner workings. Flip levers and investigate other moveable parts that trigger train noises such as braking, whistles and steam.

  • Fix Percy’s wobbly wheel by removing and replacing parts and experimenting to find a combination of wheels, rods and bolts that work.

  • Explore the favorite Island of Sodor destinations including: Tidmouth Sheds, Brendam Docks and the Sodor Search & Rescue Station on an over-sized Thomas Wooden Railway train table.

  • Work with old and new friends loading luggage, livestock and other freight into the coaches of two train cars.

  • Collaborate with others to get Percy moving by loading coal into his coal box and filling his tank with water from a water tower.

  • Suit up as the conductor to exchange money and sell tickets to other visitors taking a ride on the train.

  • Wander through a Thomas & Friends retrospective featuring model engines from the original live action series produced in London, copies of the original drawings and manuscripts from the Rev. W. Awdry, the creator of Thomas & Friends, and a collection of memorabilia documenting the history and evolution of Thomas & Friends through books, television, and toys.

 3M National Sponsorship

The Museum’s long-time supporter 3M has signed on for a 5-year national sponsorship of the Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails exhibit, providing a strong connection to their history of innovation in science and engineering.

“Minnesota Children’s Museum delivers high-quality STEM learning opportunities for children across Minnesota and beyond. We’re thrilled to take our collaboration to the next level and impact children and families across the country as the national sponsor of Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails,” said Kim Price, Vice President, 3Mgives. 

Admission to Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails is $9.95 for adults and children; free for Museum members. For more information about the exhibit at the Minnesota Children’s Museum, please visit www.mcm.org.  For information about the overall Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails tour, visit: http://events.hitentertainment.com.


Thomas the Tank Engine™ was created by a father for his son nearly 70 years ago and today is enjoyed by families in more than 185 territories and in 30 languages.  The #1 blue engine and his friends invite children to enter a world of imagination through the tracks of a train and the words of a story. Children embark on adventures with their engine friends while experiencing timeless life lessons of discovery, friendship and teamwork.  Thomas & Friends is the #1 preschool toy license in the US, according to The NPD Group, Inc., and makes tracks to great destinations on PBS KIDS® and Sprout® in the US and on Treehouse and Télé-Québec in Canada and with downloadable episodes available through iTunes. For more information, please visit www.thomasandfriends.com. Follow Thomas on Facebook at facebook.com/thomasandfriends and Twitter @ThomasParent.


For more than 30 years, Minnesota Children’s Museum has combined early childhood research and best practices to provide children and families with hands-on experiences that develop healthy minds and bodies, build critical and creative thinking skills and prepare children for success in school and in life. A non-profit community organization and leading cultural institution, the Museum serves more than 450,000 children and adults each year through immersive experiences and environments that encourage children’s active exploration and adult engagement.

As the nation’s leading developer of traveling children’s museum exhibits, the Museum is a trailblazer in creating immersive learning environments, reaching more than 10 million children and adults in the United States, Canada and Mexico through the nation’s largest collection of children’s traveling exhibits. The Museum is consistently rated as one of the top children’s museums in the country by national media outlets like Forbes and Parents and was recently named as a finalist for an Institute of Museum and Library Services Medal of Service, the nation’s highest honor conferred on museums and libraries.


HIT Entertainment is one of the world's leading preschool entertainment companies, specializing in building powerful brands based on engaging stories.  HIT Entertainment’s world-class portfolio includes  Thomas & Friends®, Mike the Knight™, Fireman Sam®, Bob the Builder, Barney®, Angelina Ballerina®, Pingu® and Rainbow Magic®.

HIT Entertainment excels at creating and building globally successful brands which capture the hearts and imaginations of preschoolers and their families.  This is achieved through exceptional storytelling in multiple formats, enhanced by creating high quality character-based products and experiences with best-in-class partners. HIT Entertainment’s lines of business span television and home entertainment production, content distribution, digital media and live events and attractions. HIT Entertainment, a subsidiary of Mattel, Inc., has operations in the UK, US, Canada, Hong Kong and Japan. For more information visit www.hitentertainment.com


Fisher-Price, Inc., a subsidiary of Mattel, Inc. (NASDAQ:MAT) located in East Aurora, N.Y., is the leading brand of infant and preschool toys in the world.  The company’s legacy of high quality toys has enhanced early childhood development for more than 82 years.  Some of the Company’s best-known “classic” brands include Little People®, Power Wheels® and Imaginext®.   Fisher-Price is also a leading developer of baby gear products (infant swings, bouncers, high chairs), as well as a wide array of character-based toys inspired by high quality children’s programming such as Dora the Explorer™, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Thomas & Friends®.  The Company’s website, www.fisher-price.com, as well as its Facebook page, www.facebook.com/fisherprice provide valuable information and resources to parents and grandparents around the world.

ABOUT 3Mgives

3Mgives is a recognized leader in corporate giving, philanthropy, volunteerism and community engagement. Since 1953, 3M has invested $1.3 billion in cash and products around the world and was most recently honored with the United Way Spirit of America Award, the Silver U.S. President’s Volunteer Service Award and the Excellence in Mentoring Award for Corporate Leadership. For more information, visit www.3Mgives.com or follow @3Mgives on Twitter.


Noelle Dong
HIT Entertainment

[1] Source:  The NPD Group/Retail Tracking Service/Annual 2013/Infant-Preschool Toys Supercategory/Dollar Volume