Polar Express Train Experience

The Polar Express is a trademark of Warner Bros.

Take your family on a magical train ride to the North Pole!

One of the classic Christmas movies of all time is “The Polar Express”. It’s such a nice story about the magic of Christmas.

The movie is based upon the 1985 children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg, a story about a little boy who doesn’t believe that Santa really exists. So he takes a train to the “North Pole” to see for himself if Santa is “real”.

When at the North Pole he experiences the toy factory, elves and gets to meet Santa! Santa gives him a silver bell as a gift and the boy leaves the North Pole really knowing what believing is all about.

I’ve always wanted to take “the Polar Express” and it’s on my bucket list. Many areas around the country offer a Polar Express Experience to families during the Holiday Season.

Each location differs to some degree but the idea is the same. It’s a magical family experience where kids get to“live” the book and the movie.

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The Polar Express Experience

Polar Express Tickets
Polar Express Tickets

Your child will get their own “magic ticket” to see Santa. Come dressed in your PJs just like the little boy in the book/movie and take the train to the “North Pole” to meet Santa for yourself.

Once aboard the Conductor will read the story (book) and hot chocolate and cookies are usually served on most trains by the dancing chefs. Once at the North Pole, you will get to see Santa and he will give your kids a “gift”, a silver bell.

You can also bring the Polar Express home with these items:

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Today you and your family can experience your own “North Pole” at one of the many locations throughout the United States offering the “Polar Express” themed train ride.

Here is a list so hopefully there is one where you live. If not maybe a weekend getaway can be part of your holiday plans.

The information below has been updated for the 2021 season.

Northeast

New York

Adirondack Scenic Railroad, Utica, NY

  • Dates: November 19 to December 20
  • Location: 321 Main Street, Utica, NY
  • First-class seating, adults $67.50, ages 2 to 12 $57.50
  • Coach seating adults $46, ages 2 to 12 $38
  • Two-hour roundtrip ride
  • Trains depart at 4:00 pm and 6:45 pm
  • Call for more information or to purchase tickets at 800-819-2291

North Fork Trolley, Riverhead, NY

This adventure is not on a train but on a trolley. Your family will take the trolley to the “North Pole” and see Santa. Since it’s on public roads and not a train ride no infant under 2 is allowed. 2021 dates are November 26, 27, and 28, December 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 16, 17, 18, 19 21, 22 and 23. They run 4 to 5 trolleys a day depending on the date.

You meet the trolley at 96 Main Road in Riverhead NY. For more information please call 631-369-3031.

Catskills Mountain Railroad, Kingston, NY

  • Dates: November 15 to December 28
  • Located at 55 Plaza Road, Kingston, NY
  • The train ride itself is 1 hour long, total experience a little over 1 1/2 hours
  • For information call 845-332-4854

New Jersey

The Polar Express, Whippany, NJ

This Polar Express train is operated by the Morristown & Erie Railway from November 3 through December 31. Coach and first-class cars are available starting at $42 and going up to $85.

You board the train at 1 Railroad Plaza in Whippany, NJ. For ticket information call 877-987-6487.

Delaware River Railroad Excursions, Phillipsburg, NJ

  • Dates: November 26 to December 19 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
  • Friday trains times are 6 pm and 8 pm
  • Saturday trains run at 2 pm, 4pm, 6 pm and 8 pm
  • Train times are 2 pm, 4 pm and 6 pm on Sunday
  • Cost: $42 for adults, $32 for Children
  • Tickets sell out fast and go on sale early on July 1st
  • For more information call 877-872-4674

Maine

Maine Narrow Guage Railroad, Portland, ME

All aboard the train at 49 Thames Street, Portland ME.

Tickets are $51 for first class and $31 for coach. Available dates are November 26. 27. 28 and December 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, and 23. Train times vary by date but are 2:45, 4:00, 5:15, 6:30 and 7:45 pm.

For information call 207-828-0814.

Massachusetts

Cape Cod Centrail Railroad

  • Located at 70 Main Street, Buzzards Bay MA
  • Ticket prices vary with pricing starting at $39 to $99 depending if you are in a coach car, first class car or premium class car. Also tickets are a few dollard cheaper for a matinee than an evening
  • Train departure dates are November 26, 27 and 28 and December 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23
  • Each child gets a silver bell and golden ticket
  • Cookies and hot chocolate is served to each passenger
  • First class tickets receive a Polar Express tumbler
  • Premium class gets a Polar Express ceramic mug

Vermont

Vermont Children’s Trust Foundation, 95 St. Paul Street, Burlington VT

The foundation has this event as their fundraiser which takes place for 2 days in December this year on December 11th and 12th. Eight trains run daily leaving every hour beginning at noon. There is a 20-minute train ride to the North Pole where you get off a see the elves and Santa, Total event is about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Tickets are $30.

For more information call 802-951-8604

White River Rotary Club, 39 S, Main Street, White River Junction, VT

The White River Rotary Club offers the Polar Express Experience Train ride as a fundraiser however the 2021 train schedule is not available yet. For more information please call 802-281-5050.

Rhode Island

Blackstone Valley Tourism Council, 1 Depot square, Woonsocket RI

This is the longest-running Polar Express train ride in the United States. The train begins its Polar Express ride sometime in November. The exact dates are not available yet.

This attraction draws over 20,000 visitors each year. Prices vary depending on the car you choose which includes general admission for Comet, Cupid, and Rudolph cars and premium seating in Prancer (has tables), Dancer, and Dasher. A souvenir mug is given to everyone with your hot chocolate and cookies.

2021 dates are as follows, November 19 to December 19 on weekends only. Trains times are 4 pm and 7 pm.

For information call 401-495-1213.

Photo credit to Adam Chang on Upslash

South

Maryland

Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, 13 Canal Street, Cumberland, MD

  • November 26, 27, 28 and December 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19 20, 21, 22, and 23
  • Departure times vary depending on the day but are 1:30, 3:30, 5:50 and 7:30 pm
  • Prices starting at $35
  • 65-minute train ride
  • Set to music from the movie
  • Book is read to the children on the train
  • For more information call 301-876-2887

Florida

Brightline, and Miami, FL

Information for the 2021 season will be available soon.

Kentucky

Big South Fork Scenic Railway, Stearns, KY

  • Trains departs 100 Henerson Street
  • Dates: November 19, 20, 21, 26, 27 and 28 December 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16 , 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, and 23 and a special midnight performance on December 31
  • One hour-long train ride
  • Ticket prices range from $20 to $70.
  • The only Polar Express in Kentucky
  • Tickets go on sale July 31st
  • All children get a sleigh bell, all passengers get hot cholocate and cookies

For information call 877-944-7849

North Carolina

Great Smokey Mountains Railroad, Bryson City, NC

  • Near the Smokey Mountains located at 226 Everett Street
  • Dates: Beginning November 12 thru January 1 (weekends only the first 2 weeks in November and closed Thanksgiving and Christmas)
  • Train ride 1 1/4 hours roundtrip
  • The price depends on day and car but start at $11 for infants to $93 for adults (infants are free in coach only)
  • Call 800-872-4681 for information

North Carolina Transporation Museum, Spencer, NC

  • Train station located at 411 Salisbury Avenue
  • Dates: November 12, 13, 19, 20, 21, 26, 27 and 28 and December 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23
  • Ticket prices range from $32 to $48 in coach
  • First Class 2 Top Table $120, 4 Top Table $240 and 6 Top Table $360
  • Parlor Class 4 Top Table $325
  • 6 trains depart, times vary
  • Tickets now on sale, for more information call 704-636-2889

Oklahoma

Oklahoma Railway Museum, Oklahoma City, OK

  • Train located on 3400 NE Grand Blvd.
  • Dates: November 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 24, 26, 27 and 28 and December 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27 and 28
  • Prices range from $35 to $60 depending on the car
  • 3 to 5 trains each day varying times
  • Tickets on sale now for more information call 715-721-2093

Texas

Galveston Railroad Museum, 2602 Santa Fe Place, Galveston, TX

  • Dates: November 18, 19, 20, 21, 26, 27 and 28 and December 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22
  • Prices vary from $27 to $75
  • For information call 320-244-0213
  • The 2021 experience will go on sale in August 9

Texas State Railroad, 789 park Rd 70, Palestine, TX

  • Dates: November 19 to December 26
  • Train departure times: Vary depending on dates
  • The round trip ride is 60 minutes
  • Coach pricing $ 30 to $60 40 diesel and $40 to $70 for steam
  • OPen-air coach $25 to $55
  • First-class $50 to $80 diesel, $60 to $90 stem
  • Upper Dome & presidential cars $70 to $100 diesel and $80 to $110 steam
  • Call 855-632-7729 for ticket sales

Midwest

Illinois

Chicago Union Station, 500 W Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL

  • Dates: December 3 to December 31 except they are closed on Christmas Decemner 25.
  • For information call 312-471-2501

Monticello Railway Museum, 992 Iron Horse Plaza, Monticello, IL

  • Dates: November 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 26, 27 and 28 and December 3, 4 and 5
  • Train Times: 5 pm, 6:30 pm and 8:00 pm
  • Prices vary depending on class which include coach, special coach and deluxw as well as a private car for up to 12 people
  • Tickets go on sale September 11th and 8 am
  • call 877-762-9011 for more information

Fox River Trolley Museum, 35W00 Route 31, South Elgin, IL

  • Dates: November 27 and 28 and December 4, 5, 11, 12, 18 and 19
  • Trains depart 3:15, 4:25, 5: 35 and 6:45 pm
  • All tickets are $40
  • For more information call 847-697-4676

Indiana

Whitewater Valley Scenic Railroad, 455 Market Street, Connersville, IN

  • Dates: November 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 26, 27 and 28 and December 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 17 and 18
  • Price: One of the cheapest at $37.50 for all tickets
  • Train time is between 1 1/2 to 2 hours depending on the capacity of the train (for Santa’s visit)

French Lick Scenic Railway, French Lick, IN

  • Dates: Friday, Saturday & Sunday 11/2 to 12/15 and every day 12/17 to 12/23
  • Time: Two trains at 5:30 and 7:30 pm
  • Prices: Coach $35, First-class $60 and Dome class $70

Missouri

Branson Scenic Railway,206 E. Main Street Branson MO

This is a very popular event in Branson with ticket sales beginning in April. The event runs on November 5th with various days and times depending on the month. During December the trains run every day except Sunday the 5th through December 23. Ticket prices start at $36 and go up to $72.

For more information call 800-287-2462.

St. Louis Union Station, 1820 Market Street, St. Louis, MO

  • Dates: November 17 to December 30
  • Trains depart at 4:30, 6:00, 7:15 and 8:30
  • Round trip ride 1 1/4 hours
  • Prices range from $35 to $80 depending on the car
  • Tickets go on sale from September 8th at 9 am
  • Call 314-942-6942 for more information

Ohio

Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, 7600 Canal Road, Peninsula, OH

  • 2021 season information should be out soon. For information call 800-468-4070

Dennison Railroad Depot Museum, 400 Center Street, Dennison, OH

  • Dates: December 3, 4, 5, 10, 11 and 12
  • Price range $45 to $75
  • Private compartment for 5 people available for $490
  • Friday night trains leave at 6:00 and 8:00 pm
  • Saturday & Sunday trains leave at 2:00, 4:00 6:00 and 8:00 pm
  • Member tickets go on sale May 11 and open up to the general public on June 8
  • For more information call 740-922-6776

Wisconsin

National Railroad Museum, 2285 S. Broadway, Green Bay, WI

  • Dates: November 19 to December 12
  • Train times on Thursday December 2nd are 6:00 and 8:00 pm
  • Friday train times are 4:00, 6:00 and 8:00 pm
  • Train times for Saturday are 2:00, 4:00, 6:00 and 8:00 pm
  • Sunday train times are 4:00, 6:00 and 8:00 pm
  • Tickets start at $21.75 for coach and go up to $47 for a luxury lounge car
  • 2021 season will go on sale the end of July 25, 2021
  • Call 920-437-7623 for more details

West Coast

Arizona

Grand Canyon Railway, 235 N. Grand Canyon BlvD, William, AR

This is the same train that goes to the Grand Canyon but during the holiday season a special 90-minute Polar Express train takes you to the “North Pole”. This magical train begins on November 12th and has 2 trains (5:30 and (7:30) on most days. Prices Sunday to Thursday are $47 for adults and $33 for children 2-15. On the weekends they are $59 and $47. They also have a limited Christmas Eve rain that is $85 for adults and $59 for children.

You can also get a vacation package that includes a night at the Railway Hotel with breakfast and dinner at Fred Harvey Restaurant. For more information call 800-843-8724.

California

California State Railroad Museum, 111 I Street, Sacramento, CA

  • Dates: November 26 to December 19, on Wenesday to Sunday
  • 4 Trains daily at 3:30, 5:00, 6:30 and 8:00 pm with a 2:00 train on Saturday and Sunday
  • They have an Open-air car with tables of 4 people for $180 to $200
  • Other car prices range from $45 per person to $70 except for the Audubon Dining Car where tables of 4 tickets are between $260 and $280
  • Member advance ticket sales open September 7th with general open to the public ticket sales beginning September 28th.
  • For more information call 916-445-8270

Southern California Railway Museum, 2201 S. A Street PERRIS, CA

  • Dates: November 24, 26, 27, and 28 and December 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15 to the 24th and the 26th to the 31st.
  • Trains depart 1:00, 2:45, 4:30, 6:40 and 8:10 pm
  • For information call 702-357-3526

Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, 18115 5th Avenue Jamestown, CA

  • Dates: November 26 to December 19 on Fridays to Sundays
  • Coach price $50, first-class price $70
  • Trains depart at 4:30, 6:00 and 7:30 pm
  • Members tickets go on sale September 7 to October 8
  • Tickets open at the general public October 11 at 9 am
  • For more details call 20-984-3953

Colorado

Colorado Railroad Museum, 17155 W 44th Avenue, Golden, CO

  • Dates should be released soon but they will have some dates in November and December
  • For more information call 800-365-6263

Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, 479 Main Street Durango, CO

Information has not been released yet but the train will be running in 2021. For more information call 877-872-4607.

V & T Railway Commission, 4650 Eastgate Siding Road, Carson City, NV

V & T Railway is uncertain about the 2021 season of the Polar Express Experience due to Covid 19. A decision will be made soon. For more information please call 877-724-5007.

Washington

Chehalis-Centralia Railroad Association,1101 SW Sylvenus Street, Chehalis, WA

  • Dates: November 13 to December 19 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
  • One-hour roundtrip ride
  • All tickets are $39 except for group premium seating which is up to 4 people $200, 6 people $300 and 8 people $400
  • Train times at 3:00, 5:00 and 7:00 pm
  • Tickets go on sale July 1, 2021
  • For more information call 360-748-9593

Mt. Rainier Railroad & logging Museum, Elbe, WA

They will not be offering the Polar express experience this year due to Covid 19 but plan on having it again in the future.

Conclusion

The Christmas holiday season is a busy time of year for everyone. But it’s important to remember that it’s also a magical time of year especially for the children in our lives. The Polar Express Train Experience is magical that your kids will always remember and after all, that’s what the season is really about, making memories with the ones we love!

Wishing you and your family a Happy & Magical Holiday Season!

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16 thoughts on “Polar Express Train Experience”

  1. I’ve always wanted to do this! There’s one not far from where I grew up, but it wasn’t until high school when it began… so I’m basically waiting until I have a child I can take on this ride!

    1. The one that’s close to me is the trolley but I plan to go to the one in the Adirondacks because I would rather go on a train!

  2. this is quite a fun idea! The fact that the train actually travel is so much better than a simple museum! 😀 I especially love the fact that you’re supposed to show up in your pj!! 😀

  3. I’ve always wanted to take my best friend’s kids to do this. I love how authentic the tickets look. I didn’t realize they did this in other states. Thanks for the info!

  4. We are talking about doing this with my kids once they get a bit older! My father in law works for Norfolk Southern, so they love trains, but have yet to get into the movie! We will be doing the NC ones!

  5. The Polar Express is also one of my most favorite movies! And I didn’t know that you can really take a ride with it! Have you heard about Europe? Is there also something…. I would love to go with The Polar Express.

  6. We have done the Woonsocket RI one. It was good. You left out the Essex Steam Train in ESSEX CT. This one sells out fast! We’ve never been. Good for a one time experience but not reoccurring tradition due to cost.

  7. Oh wow! I had no idea these train expeditions/trips actually existed! Now I wonder, since I am reading murder in the Orient Express, would there be a thematic trip too? In any case, if I grow the bravery to visit the US during winter I will for sure give these a go! Thank you for sharing.

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