All Aboard!: NC families celebrate the season with Polar Express train ride


Have your children read or watched The Polar Express? For North Carolina families, now’s the time to make that magical train ride come to life.

In the classic story by Chris Van Allsburg, a young boy—who has been told Santa Claus doesn’t exist yet remains hopeful—lies awake on Christmas Eve. Waiting for Santa to show, he is taken aback when the mysterious Polar Express shows up outside his door instead. Climbing aboard, he is whisked away on a magical ride to the North Pole with a group of likeminded children clad in pajamas. Their trip turns out to be an enchanting, memorable one that reinforces the power of belief.

polarexpress10Families living in or near Bryson City, NC, can recreate the magic of the Polar Express for themselves. The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad is bringing back its memorable holiday journey and it’ll last through New Year’s. Last year, 53,000 passengers rode the Polar Express, a 1 1/4 hour round-trip excursion that brings the famous story to life as soon as you pull out of the station.

Riding through the wilderness of the Great Smoky Mountains, set to the sounds of the movie soundtrack, passengers will enjoy delicious treats and hot cocoa while reading and listening along to the story. Passing by a beautiful, light-strewn backdrop, you and your children will arrive at the “North Pole” to find Santa waiting with gifts in tow (a silver sleigh bell, as in the story).

The Polar Express began November 7 and officially ends January 4, 2015. Ranging from $15 to $69, you can choose from three classes: Coach, Crown, and First. Coach passengers will enjoy heat, seats arranged in sets of four with two facing one another, and a cookie and warm cocoa served by the trains chef. Crown includes climate control for comfort, easily accessible restrooms, and a cookie and warm cocoa served in a souvenir Polar Express tumbler. And first class passengers will enjoy plush furniture, GSMRlarge windows, climate control, tables of four or two, and a specialty treat bag plus warm cocoa served in a Polar Express souvenir mug.

Plan ahead and reserve your seats now. These rides sell out! For those who already have tickets, follow the weather. You’re allowed to reschedule your trip no sooner than 48 hours before your scheduled departure (with a small fee).

For more information, visit the Great Smoky Mountain Railroads site today!