The Polar Express at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer

August 9, 2023

A magical train ride has become a tradition for thousands of families. The Polar Express — inspired by the Chris Van Allsburg book and movie — is now offered 23 nights throughout November and December at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer. Tickets for this popular family experience have sold out every single time so far, and it's easy to see why. The train is operated by a company that has provided similar rides to many other locations.

The museum grounds are well-maintained and large enough that children can run around or play at the sandbox while they wait for their turn on the train. They also have several campfires with smore kits for purchase, as well as hula hoops, bubbles and sidewalk chalk. The staff is good about helping parents and kids find seats together on the train if they need help with that. The train itself is a diesel train, but some dates may feature the museum's steam train (for a slightly higher price).

On board, passengers are greeted by the conductor and elves and can enjoy hot chocolate and cookies. The ride is set to the movie soundtrack, and there are readings from the companion story. When the train arrives at the "North Pole," passengers are welcomed by Santa and given their own silver sleigh bell.

The train ride is a bit on the pricey side, but it's a unique holiday experience that the whole family will remember. It can be a great way to get kids into the Christmas spirit and believe in Santa. Other train-related events are available at the museum, including Easter Bunny Train, Legends by Lantern Tours and a Halloween Train.


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