For a truly enchanting holiday experience, you really cannot go wrong with a trip on The Polar Express Train Ride near Asheville, North Carolina. This unforgettable adventure takes you through wintry landscapes on a whimsical vintage steam train. The train’s gorgeous holiday lights and decorations dazzle mile after mile, making you feel like you’re right in the middle of a storybook.
As you can likely guess, The Polar Express Train Ride is endlessly popular, so you cannot just show up and hop on board. Instead, you must plan well ahead for this trip of a lifetime. Ready to learn all you need to know about joining the fun? Read all about what to expect and how to prepare in this guide.
The Journey Mirrors the Storybook
The Polar Express Train Ride brings the beloved “The Polar Express” storybook by Chris Van Allsburg to life. On this memorable holiday adventure, you take a journey that mirrors the story, complete with breathtaking winter wonderlands and the warmest holiday spirits.
Just like the main character, Hero Boy, you’ll zoom through the dense forests and along tall mountainsides to what’ll feel like the top of the world. All along the way, the crew will sing along with the motion picture soundtrack while dancing their hearts out. You’re welcome to join in if you wish or just clap along to the music while enjoying the show.
It’s Pajama Party Fun for All Ages
Also, much like the story where Hero Boy embarks on his adventure in his pajamas, you’re encouraged to don your coziest PJs as well. And for that reason, this pajama party for all ages captures the wonder of the holiday season for adults and kids alike. It’s a truly heartwarming reminder that the magic of Christmas knows no age limits.
Just keep in mind that the winter chill is very real. So, while the cozy atmosphere in the train warms your heart, it’s important to prepare for the cold outside. Bundle up beneath your PJs with extra layers of thermals and double up your socks inside your slippers. Also, wear slippers with excellent grip, so you can safely hop on and off the train at each stop.
Arrive Ready for Hot Chocolate and Sweet Treats
Scrumptious hot chocolate and sweet treats galore await your arrival on The Polar Express Train Ride. The moment you step onboard, the delicious aroma of hot cocoa will delight your senses. Made only from the finest Dutch cocoa, this drink promises to warm your belly while leaving you craving more all season long.
As for the sweet treats, they’re simply delightful as well. Most guests go straight for the cookies, but there are also Rice Krispie treats and Veggie Straws. The Rice Krispies are perfect for those with gluten allergies, while Veggie Straws work well for the dairy-free crowd. Just let your server know what you’d like, and they’ll bring it out lickety-split.
Bring Your Best Behavior Because Santa’s Onboard
At the end of the journey, there’s a very special surprise in store for all guests: Santa Claus himself will make a grand appearance. Jolly old Saint Nick arrives just in time to spread holiday cheer and make your journey even more magical.
To make the most of Santa’s visit, remember to be on your best behavior. Just like in the story, he’ll come by to say hello, take photos, and hear your holiday wishes. Whether you’re hoping for a certain gift or just want to soak in the joy of the season, this is a great chance to make wonderful memories.
And here’s the best part: Santa has gifts for all the good kids aboard the holiday train. Each kid will undoubtedly cherish this stunning keepsake for years to come, making it a delightful way to wrap up the adventure.
You Must Grab Tickets Early to Ride in Style
If you’re thinking about hopping aboard The Polar Express Train Ride for 2023, there’s some unfortunate news. Tickets have already completely sold out for the season. But never fear, it’s the perfect time to secure your spot for the 2024 holiday season. This gives you plenty of time to plan ahead for the most incredible Asheville vacation imaginable.
By booking early, you get to select the date and time that works best for you and your family. The train travels along the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad located at 45 Mitchell St, Bryson City, NC 28713, nearly seven days a week from November 1st through December 31st, including on Christmas Eve. Travel start times range from 1 pm to 8 pm, and the trip takes about two hours in total.
When booking in advance, you also get first pick of all the best seats on the train, like First Class, which fills up fast. The other seating options range from Premium Crown Class to Coach, making it a viable trip for all travel budgets.
The Magical Ride Takes Off From Bryson City
Asheville might get all the glory, but The Polar Express Train Ride actually embarks from Bryson City, North Carolina. This charming town is a little over an hour (65 miles) west of Asheville, allowing you to enjoy a road trip before taking the train ride.
So, plan to leave town a little early if you’re not already staying in Bryson City for the night. You’ll want to be at the train depot well before your departure time, so you can get onboard and find your seats. Arriving early also allows you to browse the gift shop area and buy souvenirs, like book and blanket sets or stuffed animals.
Thinking Ahead to the 2024 Holiday Season? Let’s Prepare
If you’re thinking ahead to the 2024 holiday season, it’s definitely time to book your spot on The Polar Express Train Ride. Just go on the website to select your preferred date and time, then complete the checkout process to save your spot. After that, it’s just a matter of planning the rest of your trip to the Asheville area. You’ll be glad you started planning early once you start exploring all there is to see and do in the Great Smoky Mountains.