EnterTRAINment Junction

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

When the boys and I got word that we were needed to check out EnterTRAINment Junction, the world's largest indoor train display, I knew Columbus Parent had the right crew for the job. Nick, 6, and Alex, 4, actually own a DVD that is nothing but video of model trains cruising around toy tracks.

What I didn't realize was that EnterTRAINment Junction's amazingly detailed displays would appeal to moms, dads, grandparents, boys and girls. The attraction, located north of Cincinnati in West Chester, has more than two miles of G-scale train track.

Trains run through intricate sets depicting various periods of railroading history, many of them painstakingly constructed by volunteers.

Visitors can watch trains wind past a drive-in theatre, a Civil War camp and a dog park. Families can challenge their powers of observation by participating in the attraction's scavenger hunt - a list of objects to find in the displays. The hunt keeps little ones excited as they meander through the exhibits.

My little visitors also liked the stepstools the attraction provided, carrying them along through each gallery. I was grateful not to have to hold anybody up to see the displays.

The kids also loved Imagination Junction, a 5,000-square-foot play area, which includes a climbing structure with tunnels and slides, Thomas the Train toys and a train-themed merry-go-round. There's also an enclosed area for babies to safely crawl around.

The Junction Cafe eatery serves up typical kid fare - hot dogs and chicken nuggets - at reasonable prices. The combo meal ($4) includes a piece of pizza, chips or fruit and a drink. Nearby is a hobby shop with a large selection of Thomas the Train toys and other model-railroad supplies.

After lunch, the boys and I marveled over John Mackay's Mighty Small Circus, a display on long-term loan to EnterTRAINment Junction. The miniature circus, which Mackay spent more than 30 years carving, includes 1,200 detailed pieces. The kids were amazed that someone made the horses, acrobats and elephants out of wood. It's housed in a second-floor observation tower that offers a bird's eye view of the train displays.

The staff recommends allowing about two to three hours for a visit, but we spent four hours there, and the kids would have happily revisited Imagination Junction before chugging back to Columbus, alas, by minivan.

EnterTRAINment Junction

7379 Squire Court, West Chester

877-898-4656 (toll free)

entertrainmentjunction.com

Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday, Noon-6 p.m. Sunday. (Closed Easter Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day and on Wednesdays in January, February and March)

Cost: Adults, $12.95; Children, 3-12, $9.95; Children under 3 Free; Seniors (65+): $11.50; Parking Free. The attraction also features seasonal experiences a fun house with trick mirrors and a black hole opens in February - for additional costs.

Tip: EnterTRAINment Junction often offers coupons or discounts at cincysavers.com. Check the website for deals before planning your visit.