Today we took Aiden out to Squamish to board the Polar Express 2011 run by the West Coast Railway Association. Just like the book and movie, the Polar Express invites children young and old to board a train to the North Pole. The 60 minute train ride includes some of the story over the speakers (sadly, a little too quiet), a cookie and hot chocolate (huge hit) and the singing of Christmas carols.
The train doesn’t go very far during the ride (my geek of a husband tracked it) and made stops during food delivery, but all the kids seemed quite happy with the ride they did get. If you go in the afternoon as we did, it will be getting dark just as you return.
After the train ride, you stop at the North Pole, set up inside the Roundhouse, which is a great open space featuring a few trains to look at as well. There were lots of crafts set up, a gift shop, and a little coffee shop. The line to visit Santa takes some time, but it’s worth it. A visit to Santa brings the “first gift of Christmas” – the reindeer bell. Totally awesome.
Included in the coach ticket is a lanyard with the Gold ticket, the train ride with goodies, access to the North Pole to visit Mr. & Mrs. Claus, one ride on the mini train and access to all the crafts set up on site. Though seating is first come first served, it didn’t appear to be an issue for anyone. The first class tickets, sold out for the year, also include a free collectors mug with the assigned seats.
Next year we will read the story (which we bought there) and watch the movie before the ride too, to really get into it. Even without that, Aiden had a downright fantastic afternoon. He was thrilled with every aspect, even if he didn’t want to sit on Santa’s knee. When asked what he wanted for Christmas, to tell Santa, Aiden said “apple,” then “treat,” both of which we can easily manage. He rode the mini train (huge for him), and was heard to say “Bye Bye Santa” as we left. See all our photos here.
Tips for families: Lots of people got into the spirit by wearing PJs, but do bring warm clothes to put on top. Also bring your camera, as you’re encouraged to snap your own shots with Santa (save on mall Santas?!). I was kicking myself all afternoon for forgetting our SLR. Next year!
Disclosure: We received one adult and child pass complimentary, but paid for the additional two passes.