Tweetsie Railroad in Blowing Rock opens this weekend for the 2013 season.
The Wild West-themed theme park sits in the Blue Ridge Mountains about three hours from Raleigh is open through Nov. 3. It is ... and I did not realize it ... North Carolina's first theme park, now celebrating its 57th season. The park, which I hope to get to this year, includes a train pulled by Tweetsie's steam-powered locomotives, a Western town, a deer park and more.
The park also offers a variety of special events each year. Here's the schedule with descriptions courtesy of Tweetsie:
Letterland at Tweetsie — May 8, 9, 15 and 16
Tweetsie Railroad will be transformed into a magical place of Letterland before your very eyes during this special event. Based on the United Kingdom’s best-selling alphabet books, Letterland is the reading system that teaches children the alphabet and phonics by bringing letters to life.
Day Out With Thomas — May 31 to June 9
Experience everyone’s favorite train like never before as Thomas the Tank Engine chugs his way through the Blue Ridge Mountains. Children can meet and take pictures with Sir Topham Hatt, listen to Thomas and Friends storytelling, and enjoy activities in the Imagination Station.
Dora the Explorer and Diego — June 21-23
Enjoy meet and greets with Nickelodeon’s Dora the Explorer and Diego from Go, Diego, Go! throughout the weekend.
Tweetsie’s Fireworks Extravaganza — Thursday, July 4
No July Fourth celebration in the High Country would be complete without a day of family fun at Tweetsie Railroad. Children young and old will watch with wonder as the mountain night sky is illuminated with the High Country’s most dazzling fireworks display. The park will remain open until 9 p.m. and fireworks are launched at 9:30 p.m.
Cool Summer Nights — July 6, 13, 20 and 27
Stay cool this summer with a visit to Tweetsie Railroad during Saturdays in July as the park stays open late to make more time for family fun. First-time guests and regulars alike will delight in seeing Tweetsie come to life after the sun goes down. The park will remain open until 9 p.m.
SpongeBob SquarePants and Patrick — July 12-14
Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants and his best friend Patrick visit Tweetsie Railroad to entertain and take pictures with guests. Guests can spend the day with their favorite underwater friends at North Carolina’s first theme park!
K-9s in Flight Frisbee Dogs — July 20-28
Watch as this team of agile four-legged athletes defy gravity by jumping, flipping and catching flying discs…right into your heart!
Riders In The Sky — August 10-11
You don’t want to miss this multi Grammy award-winning quartet known as America’s Favorite Cowboys. Enjoy a rich blend of Western harmony and humor. Riders In The Sky has been captivating audiences of all ages since 1977 and is proud to bring its special brand of entertainment to Tweetsie Railroad once again.
Railroad Heritage Weekend at Tweetsie — September 7-8
Travel through the Blue Ridge Mountains on Tweetsie’s historic locomotives as the park hosts its annual Railroad Heritage Weekend. Celebrate the rich history of steam railroading and tour the famous Tweetsie Railroad Train Shop, where steam locomotives from across the nation are repaired and restored. The weekend will also include performances and demonstrations by Cherokee dancers.
Ghost Train Halloween Festival — Friday and Saturday nights Sept. 27 — Nov. 2
All aboard Tweetsie’s Ghost Train for a nighttime ride of thrills and chills as the park hosts its 24th Annual Halloween Ghost Festival. From The Boneyard and 3-D Maze to the Freaky Forest and Creepy Carnival, beware of the fun and creepy Halloween characters that emerge after dark at Tweetsie.