Thomas & Friends: A Grand Adventure is a dark ride at the Island of Sodor area at Universal's Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando Resort and Universal's Lands of Legends at Universal Studios Texas. It is based on the Railway Series books and the Thomas & Friends series, and is the Island of Sodor's flagship attraction.
The queue begins outside of a station-like structure, then winds its way into a British cottage courtyard. After a couple of switchbacks, we find ourselves in a gardening shack filled with tools, toys, model trains, and a red hot-air balloon. Suddenly, we embark into a British countryside town, and begin to do some more switchbacks. At the end of the road is the station, and we head toward it and onto our ride vehicles.
The vehicle (a red or blue open-topped coach) comes across one of many video screens as the camera pans toward the Island of Sodor. As the camera comes across the North Western Railway, the narrator as usual says "One day on the Island of Sodor........" and the coach heads toward the next room.
We come across Thomas and Percy at Tidmouth Sheds as the Fat Controller tells the former that he has a job to do: to give the riders a trip around Sodor and go to a celebration at Ulfstead Castle. Thomas agrees, and the coach steadily rolls out of Tidmouth Sheds and out into the countryside.
As Thomas and the coach roll along the countryside, a familiar-looking bus honks his horn at both him and the riders. That bus turns out to be no other than Bertie, willing to race against the riders. Thomas says to Bertie that he will win for sure, which Bertie replies to by saying that he can't catch him. The coach (and Thomas) begin to race Bertie, and as they round a bend, the coach gains speed. Before leaving the room, Thomas and Bertie catch up to the riders and congratulate them for winning; Bertie adds that he couldn't go as fast as them!
As the riders continue on, Thomas, Annie, Clarabel, and the coach end up at Elsbridge Station, where they find Gordon and James waiting for Thomas' passengers. James asks Thomas where he's going, in which Thomas replies by telling him he's taking the riders to Ulfstead Castle. Gordon responds by saying he'd like to go there too, but he has to pull the Express first. Thomas then drops off his passengers and continues.
Further along the line, the coach enters a room with video screens on all four walls. Suddenly, Harold lowers down toward the railway and lifts the coach up, causing Thomas to chase it. As the coach flies over forests, bridges, and the railway, the wind picks up and Harold lands, setting the coach free again.
Further down the line at Wellsworth, Henry accidentally couples up to the coach while pulling a goods train. The coach begins to reverse up to Gordon's Hill.............until it breaks off and runs away!
The coach sails through Wellsworth, nearly collides with Percy, and turns into Henry's Tunnel, where it derails. The contents of Henry's train fly everywhere, and the coach spins and turns over while caught in a downpour of spilling objects. As it crashes, the fireworks explode, a barrel of water soaks the riders, and tunnel bore walls scatter everywhere. As the coach exits the tunnel, it slows down, and the narrator, apparently relieved that the riders are not injured, says that "luckily, no one was hurt".
The coach continues on, only to find itself at none other than the party at Ulfstead Castle. The Fat Controller thanks the riders for making it to the party on time, and the coach returns to the station, letting the riders disembark.
- Although this ride can be considered to be a dark ride, it is actually a MACK Rides powered roller coaster. This technology comes in handy in three scenes; Thomas racing Bertie near the beginning, the backwards incline up Gordon's Hill, and the consequent runaway and crash in Henry's Tunnel.
- The latter scene has no lighting (the lights in that room are turned off), making it pitch-black. The only sources of light in this room are projections of the rolling stock from Henry's train overturning and the contents inside them either pouring, spilling, breaking or flying out of them. To simulate the coach derailing, the coach speeds up and goes through many helices, going the opposite direction of the toppling train and sometimes passing over them. Additionally, the fireworks exploding are achieved with strobe lighting, making that the only other source of light in the same room.
- The animatronics seen in this attraction were built by Garner-Holt.