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If you are looking for a fun and unique holiday experience for the whole family I highly suggest The Polar Express Train Ride in East Texas at the Texas State Railroad. We’ve been twice, once when B was 2 & the following year when he was 3. We enjoyed both trips!
The Texas State Railroad has always been near and dear to me since I was a child and took trips with my grandparents on the train from Palestine to Rusk. My grandparents live in Palestine where the train station is located and my Dad, both Grandfathers and Uncle all worked for the railroad.
The Polar Express Train Ride is a 1-hour round trip train ride on a real steam engine.
The train departs from the Palestine station and travels 30 minutes to the North Pole. During the trip to the North Pole dancing chefs deliver hot chocolate and a cookie to each guest (adults too!) while music from the movie plays.
The conductor comes by to punch each child’s golden ticket.
Before arriving at the North Pole the classic book narrated by Liam Neeson is played while your chef turns the pages. You can also bring along your own copy.
When the train reaches the North Pole you stay on board and watch as Santa boards the train. He visits each car and gives each child their own bell from Santa’s sleigh. (too much cuteness below)
You can also snap a picture with Santa.
The train reverses and makes the 30 minute trip back to the Palestine station while the chefs dance and sing Christmas carols. It’s a lot of fun!
- Book early, it sells out quickly. There are already some times that are sold out.
- I would suggest the 5:00pm time. This way you can see the train and out the window on your way to the north pole but by the time you get there it is dark and you can see the magical North Pole lights.
- We’ve done the Lone Star Class (table seating) both times but I hear standard is just as enjoyable. You just don’t have the table or souvenir mug. We still use our mugs for hot chocolate.
- Get there early so you can see the previous train pull into the station. It’s exciting!
- Wear your PJs if you want. Chad & I didn’t but B did and there were many adults dressed in PJs.
- They have a photographer at the station to take pictures and a gift shop.
- There are concessions available at the station. (hamburgers, nachos, etc.)
- Palestine is about 3 hours away from Houston. There is a small selection of hotels in the area. It’s not a very big town.
Details *check the website for current year dates, times & pricing*
Dates: Nov. 20-22, 27-29; Dec. 4-6, 11-13, 15-23, 26 & 27
Departure Times: 2:00 pm, 3:30 pm, 5:00 pm, 6:30 pm, 8:00 pm
The Polar Express at the Texas State Railroad offers three classes of service. All classes are in comfortable, decorated cars and include a visit from Santa, a shiny golden ticket, a sleigh bell, hot cocoa and a chocolate chip cookie.
Standard Class – traditional railroad seating with rowed seats. All Standard Class guests receive a chocolate chip cookie and hot cocoa and all Standard Class children will receive a shiny golden ticket and a sleigh bell from Santa. Child-$20/non peak, Child-$25/peak day, Adult-$40/non peak, Adult-$45/peak day, Adult w/ Lap Baby-$40/non peak, Adult w/Lap Baby $45/peak day
Lone Star Class – seating in the lower dome tables or in dining car tables. All Lone Star Class guests receive a souvenir Polar Express mug filled with hot cocoa and a chocolate chip cookie. All Lone Star Class kids will receive a shiny golden ticket and a sleigh bell from Santa. Child-$45/non peak, Child-$50/peak day, Adult-$69, Adult-$75/peak day, Adult w/ Lap Baby-$79/non peak, Adult w/Lap Baby-$85/peak day
Diamond Class– premium offering with seats in the upper dome cars that feature wide windows for viewing the stop at the North Pole. All Diamond Class guests receive a souvenir Polar Express mug filled with hot cocoa and a chocolate chip cookie. All Diamond Class kids will receive a shiny golden ticket, a sleigh bell from Santa and another special surprise gift! Note that not all upper dome seats have tables. Some seats have tray tables that fold down from the seat.Child-$75/non peak, Child-$80/peak day, Adult-$99/non peak, Adult-$105/peak day, Adult w/ Lap Baby-$109/non peak, Adult w/Lap Baby-$115/peak day
Tickets can be purchased through the Texas State Railroad Website or by calling 877-726-7245.
Have you been to the North Pole on the Polar Express? What was your favorite part?