Edaville Railroad wants to nix Thomas Land, focus on Christmas season and housing units


Operators of the railroad-themed amusement park, located in Carver, want to build 336 housing units on unused portions of the property and only open during the Christmas season.

Some future changes are in store for Edaville Family Theme Park, southeastern Massachusetts’ popular train-themed attraction.

Operators of the Carver park, which opened 76 years ago, plan to do away with the Thomas Land section of the park and want to only open during the months of November and December, with some offseason events. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Edaville was open for nine months of the year.

Another proposed update to the park is the addition of hundreds of rental units, including affordable housing, to be built on park property. The plans include an open space area that would include two-mile walking trails, as well as cycling and kayaking for residents of the housing development and town.

The theme park features family-friendly children’s rides, gift shops, and two historic steam locomotives that take visitors on a tour of its scenic cranberry country grounds. Thomas Land opened in the summer of 2015, but along with the park’s Dino Land, remained closed when the park reopened following the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The proposed changes came to light during a Jan. 3 Carver board of selectmen meeting, when owner Jon Delli Priscoli told town officials, “Christmas would be our entire focus.” 

“It’s going to be turned into something like you see in Europe, which is a Bavarian Christmas market…with all these crafters and people selling wares and things that would make it a very unique Christmas experience for families,” said Delli Priscolli, who has owned the park for 25 years. 

The majority of Edaville’s business — between 60 and 70 percent — comes from Edaville’s Christmas Wonderland and Festival of Lights. Delli Priscoli told selectmen the Christmas-only focus would be good for the park’s longevity.

“I want to see Edaville survive. I want to see Edaville go forward,” Delli Priscolli said during his remarks. 

Delli Priscolli spoke on the proposed plans for seven residential buildings that would create 336 rental units. The buildings would be built on a portion of Edaville’s parking lot and other unused areas of the sprawling property. Delli Priscolli said the housing development wouldn’t impact parkgoer parking. 

As for the park permanently cutting ties with Thomas the Tank Engine, Delli Priscoli told selectmen, “We’ve come to the conclusion that Thomas and that whole concept really has not worked. Our partner, unfortunately, did not follow through, our branding partner. And COVID really hurt us.”

Delli Priscolli said he brought the proposed changes to the board so there’d be a “collaborative effort with the town, so there’s a lot of input from the town leaders and stakeholders in the project.” No votes or approvals have been made yet. 

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