This past Saturday, my father-in-law’s company provided all of us with tickets to ride on the Polar Express train in Williams, AZ. When we first heard about the opportunity earlier in the week, I must say I was overly excited. Though I’ve lived in Flagstaff for going on seventeen years, I’ve never been on the Polar Express, and I’d heard many wonderful stories about it. Not only are the book and the movie both classics, the story is timeless. With Christmas cheer, we carpooled with my husband’s family down to Williams and boarded the Polar Express at dusk. A friend offered to take a photo of all of us together:
I loved how this train was modern, yet retained some old-time charm. For example, the wooden frames around the windows, the pull shades, and the luggage racks strewn with Christmas lights. The slightly rustic feel to the train helped bring me into the story with little difficulty!
After everyone boarded and a few instructions from the “Chef” in our train car, we were off! The train ride is only about an hour round trip, so the fun started immediately with delicious cookies and hot chocolate. My sister-in-law took a photo of Joshua and me when we were back in our own seats:
Before long, the ticket inspector came through, just like in the movie, and stopped by each seat to punch enough holes to form the letter “P” in each ticket. He was hilarious and played the part quite well.
From the start of the journey, Christmas music was played through the speakers. We passed through the “magic tunnel” (honestly, that was a little disappointing…it was more like a bridge with flashing lights), and just after that, they began to read the book, “The Polar Express,” out loud. To help us all keep up with the story, the “Chef” passed up and down the aisle to show the illustrations in the book to all the passengers. Not long after the story was finished, we learned that we were coming up on the North Pole.
I think that they created a cute setup with the lit buildings on either side of the train, Mrs. Claus reading, Santa and an elf waiting out by the reindeer, as well as a beautifully illuminated Christmas tree. However, I did expect at least some fake snow and more elves, so it was missing the “wow” factor of the magical North Pole.
When we came to the end of the North Pole, the train slowed, began to reverse (apparently there was “caribou” on the tracks), and when we passed by the reindeer again, Santa had disappeared. Of course this had all the kids whirring with excitement. The Chef soon informed us that Santa was on the train and we had to sing, “Here Comes Santa Claus” as he visited everyone on each car. When he did reach our car, there was a cacophony of shouts, giggles, and laughter. He gave each person a bell with a ribbon (which we may or may not have given as a toy to our kitten *cough, cough*), and the train ride was finished off with more Christmas carols and dancing in the aisle.
All in all, I loved it! It was such a fun way to finish off the holidays, especially since after January 1st it feels rather like going cold-turkey, and it’s always a little sad to me. This was a wonderful way to bid adieu to the holidays until later this year! I’m sure the fun was in part to experiencing the train ride with my in-laws. It was simply a wonderful time with all of us laughing, joking with each other, singing along, making fun of Santa (shh, don’t tell), making fun of each other, and more. I am so blessed to have the amazing in-laws that I do!
If you ever have the chance to take a ride on the Polar Express at Christmastime, I’d say go for it! It was a fun experience, and honestly, everyone got into it–adults and children alike! There was just something about it that brought everyone together.