A little over an hour from my house in Essex, CT, there’s an historic railroad company where you can ride on old school steam trains.
And at Christmas time, they transform their trains into the “Polar Express”, and you can ride a vintage car to the North Pole.
For the last four years, I have very enviously looked at pictures my friends have posted on Facebook riding the Polar Express each Christmas.
And along with my new tattoo, I promised myself when our financial situation changed, I was gonna take the kids on the Polar Express.
Even if they were 47 years old by the time we could do it.
And last night, we were finally able to go.
It was awesome, and totally worth the wait.
For those of you who aren’t local, and for those of you in CT who have been living under a rock and have no idea what I’m talking about, tickets for the Polar Express go on sale in the beginning of November, and about an hour after they are available online, most of the decent tickets are already taken.
I managed to get eight tickets for a ride at 7 pm last night which was a minor miracle.
I didn’t tell the kids where we were going until we pulled into the parking lot.
Everyone was excited.
Except for Number 3. He was a little bit pissed initially by the “surprise.”
It was “the dumbest surprise ever.”
Anyway, when you reserve your seats online, you get actual tickets in the mail.
And when you get to your assigned car, the conductor is there and he punches the crap out of them just like Tom Hanks does in the movie.
When you get into your car, your seats are already assigned for you, and your “guide” or whatever you would call him or her shows you to your seat.
Our car’s hostess/guide was Princess Snowflake.
She had more glitter on her than a stripper and the girls loved her. They boys weren’t sure what to make of her.
The car is decorated with Christmas lights and it’s warm and cozy (you can see Princess Snowflake standing in the aisle with her microphone).
Pretty much all the kids who ride the train wear their pajamas. I had gotten new Christmas pajamas for everyone a while ago, and I surprised them with them last night. So it was a double surprise night for us.
Of course, we also wore… our robes.
(I had to turn my flash on to get a decent picture, so all the kids look like zombies in the remainder of my pictures because my phone has no red eye fix on it).
Once we got going, Princess Snowflake walked through the car and spoke to every kid on it. She asked them their names, and she remembered all of them!
Throughout the ride she sang songs (it was kind of like an interactive dinner theater in a train. Minus the dinner.) and she included the kids’ names when she was singing and talking.
Number 5 especially loved that.
There were lights and things to see outside along the way, and then about a half hour into the ride, we made it to “the North Pole.” Santa and Mrs. Claus and all the elves were outside by Santa’s sleight waving to the kids through the windows.
A little while later the elves came onto the train and gave everyone hot chocolate and cookies (that were decorated by Rudolph himself).
After that, Mrs. Claus came onto the train and talked to every kid and paused for a photo op.
This picture is blurry, but it captures the excitement of Number 7 perfectly.
This one’s a little more clear.
Shortly after that, Santa came aboard the train.
If you look closely, you can see that he gave all the kids little Polar Express bells that actually ring.
Of course, every kid on the train was now ringing his or her damn bell for the rest of the ride, but it was still very cute.
It took Number 4 approximately 12 seconds to fling the bell dinger thing right out of her bell so it wouldn’t make any noise.
Santa took time to talk to each of the kids on the train and ask them what they wanted.
When he asked Number 7 what she wanted, she told him she wanted a bottle of water because she was dying of thirst.
Santa did not have any bottles of water on him.
After Santa left, Princess Snowflake had the kids line up so they could each tell her something they had on their wish list. Then she waved her magic wand and tapped them on the head. I hope Grammy and Papa, I mean… Santa comes through for Number 3 with that ping pong table he asked for.
We finished up the ride singing Christmas carols together.
It was a great night.
The only meltdown we had was when Number 7 (of course) spilled hot chocolate all over the floor and her new pajamas.
Fortunately Number 3 spotted rolls of paper towels overhead, and then it became apparent that Number 7 was not the first person to spill hot chocolate on the Polar Express.
Some pointers if you are going and have never been, or if you want to go in the future:
- You’re on the train about an hour and a half. I’d say the ideal age range for the trip is 4-8 years old — the kids who understand what’s going on and still believe and can sit for 90 minutes without losing it.
- Number 3 and 4 were pretty much the oldest kids on the train (there was one other 11-year-old). They had fun and it was definitely worth it to bring them, but the majority of the kids on the train were in that 4-8 year old range.
- Bring water because your kids will get thirsty about 45 minutes into the trip, and Santa does not have water in his pack 😉
- To be on the safe side, bring a change of clothes if your kids freak out over spills.
- Get tickets on the 5:00 train if you can, because by 8:30, my little guys were pretty pooped.
- Make sure your camera is charged before you go!
If you have thought about taking your kids on the Polar Express, it may be too late this year, but next year, for sure, DO IT!
Even Number 3, who was not initially a believer, had a really good time.
I am so grateful we were able to experience this together as a family.
It was a night we will remember forever.
Merry Christmas, Everyone!!!