“Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the…” Wait a minute, that’s the wrong classic story. I’m here to talk to you about the modern-day classic, The Polar Express. The Polar Express is a book that came out in 1985 and, at least from my perspective, lived in obscurity until Tom Hanks brought it to life in the 2004 movie by the same name.
In 2004, however, I was barely out of college and kind of a bah hum bug. Fast forward to 2013 when I had my first child. From that moment on, Christmas was all about the kids and I got to rediscover all of my childhood favorites while helping my kids find theirs.
For them, one of their lasting Christmas favorites has been the Polar Express. I’ll put aside my own thoughts on how rude I feel the Tom Hanks conductor character is portrayed and instead focus on the bigger storyline.
For those unfamiliar with the story, a child on the verge of losing his Christmas spirit is awoken on Christmas Eve by an imaginary train on his street. The conductor invites him to the North Pole and he embarks on his journey with his golden ticket (ala Willy Wonka). Hijinks ensue but basically the bell given to the boy by Santa is an indication of those who still believe; those who believe can still hear the bell ring. My kids LOVE this story and the wonderful illustrations that go with it.
So imagine my surprise when I found out the V&T Railway dresses their train up this time of year to look like the Polar Express! That alone would be cool enough, but they have been able to give parents and children alike the full Polar Express experience.
From the moment you arrive at the depot, you are transported to the street the boy lives on. Your family is given their own golden tickets and while you wait to board your train, you can take photos with Santa or shop for some great Polar Express branded merchandise. Then the doors open and everyone pours into the room where the storyline begins. We get to meet the Conductor and the boy who act out the first act of the book. When the scene is set, the Conductor yells his famous line “All Aboard the Polar Express!”
Once situated on your train car, the wonderful local actors greet your family and make you feel welcome. The train is decked out in Christmas stockings, lights, elves…you name it!
The train whistle blows and we lurched towards the North Pole. We are asked who would like some refreshments as the cast preforms the Hot Chocolate song from the movie. Then, like magic, everyone on the train has a delicious cookie and hot chocolate to eat while the Polar Express story is read aloud.
As if they had it timed out, the story ends as we arrive in the North Pole where Santa and his elves are waiting for us. The train stops long enough for the elves and for Santa to board and then we’re off again. Santa makes his way through the train greeting all the little boys and girls and giving everyone a reindeer bell. If your kids are up for it, you can have a photo or three taken with Santa. It takes a little time for Santa to make his way through all the cars but the time flies as you sing classic Christmas carols.
If you’re up for making some amazing holiday memories for you and your kids, book yourself some tickets to the Polar Express today before they sell out! The Polar Express train runs right up until Christmas Eve. If you’d like a more intimate experience, book your tickets for the VIP Parlor Car, which accommodates 32 passengers and includes a keepsake hot chocolate mug and dedicated time with Santa and his elves. These tickets sell out fast!
Note: featured image by Reno Tahoe Graphics