McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

Buddy Lee is spotted doing some prep work for the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park’s upcoming — and completely sold-out — Tents by the Tracks event on April 10.

Drive by McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park the weekend of April 10 and you’ll spot a unique sight.

You’re likely to see rows upon rows of pitched tents occupied by various families and small groups from Scottsdale and beyond, all spending the night as part of the first event of its kind at the Railroad Park – Tents by the Tracks.

Announced in February, Tents by the Tracks invites families to pitch tents by the tracks and experience a night of fun while camping at the 30-acre theme park in Scottsdale.

In addition to being the largest slumber party Scottsdale may have ever hosted, Tents by the Tracks offers families a host of activities, including a movie, unlimited train and carousel rides and even ice cream.

And the event was so well-received by the public, it’s now sold out. 

Tents by the Tracks had eighty 12-foot-by-12-foot spaces for groups of no more than four people available to reserve for $150 each, and thirty 18-foot-by-18-foot spaces for groups up to six for $250 each.

“I’m not necessarily surprised,” Nick Molinari, operations supervisor, said of the event selling out. 

“At the Railroad Park, we’ve observed this desire from the public to get out and do things as a family,” he said. “And at the Railroad Park ... we’re, for the most part, an outdoor park where visitors can distance, have a picnic away from others, and stay within their family unit. So, the Tents by the Tracks event checked all those boxes.”

Families and groups can arrive at 4 p.m. to check in and set up their own tents and sleeping bags.

Kids can then take train shed tours from 5 to 7 p.m. and unlimited rides from 7 to 9 p.m.

Dinner is served just before the movie, which will show from 8 to 10 p.m. as families munch on complimentary popcorn.

And, finally, lights out at 11 p.m.

Attendees are even treated to breakfast the next morning as they tear down their respective campsites. 

“We’ve been excited to hold this event for a while,” Molinari said.

The city initially wanted to host Tents by the Tracks last year, but due to COVID-19, it was put it off another year.

And because the event is held outdoors and can easily be set up to ensure all families and groups are socially distanced, the event made perfect sense to host this spring.

“This year, it makes even more sense considering the physical makeup and structure of the event and COVID and having maintaining some degree of separation,” Molinari said. “It’s this perfect little fit for the environment that we have now relative to public health.”

In addition to socially distanced tents, implemented COVID-19 health and safety protocols at the event include hand sanitizing stations available throughout the area, masks required by guests when not at their respective campsites, and rides loaded at half capacity to ensure social distancing between groups.

“The biggest thing that we wanted is just to provide an opportunity for families to get out and have some level of activity at the park,” Molinari said. 

While Tents by the Tracks isn’t a “huge revenue opportunity” for McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park, Molinari said they plan on hosting the event once, possibly twice a year moving forward.

“We have a lot of families who come here all the time. They ride the train. They go on the carousel. They play in Western Town. They’ve been to Holiday Lights. They love the park. But this is something totally new for them,” Molinari said. 

“For the kids to be able to have an all-night sleepover, providing a unique experience and something that’s new to the people that already use the park is our goal,” he added.

This summer, McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park is bringing back its popular Summer Concert Series. 

Tickets go on sale April 26, and the event kicks off May 30.