If you've ever read the book or seen the movie The Polar Express, then you can imagine how magical an experience this is for kids. Our family dresses in our jammies to ride the train. Most families do this as well, some are even cute enough to be in matching jammies-- something we haven't done, and I don't know that we will, I like that our individual jammies express our individual personalities :).
The train cars are so adorable. Inside, they're decorated with lights, garland, wreaths and presents adorn the luggage racks. The seats are convertible, so your whole party can turn to face each other, an option that I found particularly quaint.
The train offers three departure times: 3:30 p, 5:30p and 7:30p. We always try to get the latest departure so that we have time to fuel up at the dinner buffet prior to our North Pole adventure. The train takes off from the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel, and it's all-in-all about an hour long ride.
The trip starts off with the car attendants serving cookies and hot cocoa to each guest. They even dance around (as cautiously as possible with the steamy hot cocoa) like the attendants in the movie. Following their snack distribution, the conductor comes around and stamps each person's ticket.
After all of the snacks and ticket stamping, the car attendants begin the story of The Polar Express. Once the story's complete, we arrive at the North Pole, where the kids get to see Santa's Workshop and wave to Santa and one of his elves from the train. We even pass by an Elvish village, where the train comes to a stop. Santa boards the train there, and goes through each train car giving every kid their own bell. If the kid can hear their bell ring then that means they still believe in Santa!
On the way back, the whole train car participates in singing Christmas carols (my favorite part), with the car attendants leading the singing and dancing around. We had a particularly enthusiastic attendant this year, and it just made the trip so much more special. Diella and I sang so loud together that my voice was horse all night.
We just love going to the Polar Express train ride each year. It's such a fun and special way to ring in the Holiday season. We went a little earlier than usual this year, November 13th, because we were going to be up north for a friend's wedding, so we sort of rang in the season super early. We just love this tradition and this year, there was even snow on the ground when we went there, which made the train ride even more special for our family.
Reservations for The Polar Express (their peak times, that is) go really fast, like reserve-a-year-in-advance fast. It's an experience that you and your kids will really enjoy. Our family highly recommends it!