Last Christmas season, while we were living in South Carolina, I got an email about a Polar Express train ride through the Smokey Mountains. I discussed it with Andy, and although it was something we'd have liked to do, we thought Brady was a little too young and he probably wouldn't be able to sit still for very long. This fall, I did a google search to see if there were any in this area (although there aren't any cool mountains). I found one about an hour north that actually had the train that the movie train was based upon. We knew Brady could definitely handle the train ride and would even welcome it as he missed the trains in Europe. He was a great age for it, and it was perfect timing before we had another baby around who would be too little to do these things.
The tickets I purchased included a one hour train ride to the "North Pole" with hot chocolate on the way, two hours at the North Pole, and then another hour back to the station where we started. The website said it wouldn't be cancelled for any inclement weather and that if it snowed, the better the experience would be. It was raining at our house, but the further north we drove, the more snow we saw on the ground. It was coming down (not in a dangerous way) pretty nicely by the time we made it to Owosso, Michigan where the train would depart.
We had to pick our tickets up an hour before the train was due to arrive, so they had small displays and activities for kids who would have a hard time waiting. The place was packed with people.
Brady was so excited to see a train and you can see his lips pursed, making the choo choo noise.
Looking out the window, anxiously waiting for the train to move. They boarded about half an hour before we were due to depart so he had a little wait.
The conductor came by to punch the kids' tickets and was more than willing to take pictures with kids at parents' requests.
Brady enjoyed the hot chocolate on the ride up and when we reached the North Pole, Santa was outside waving in greeting to the train. This is what we saw when we walked inside the North Pole.
Brady posing with some gingerbread men decorations.
We made sure to visit with Santa first, then it was off to the rides. They were all included in our ticket price, so Brady bounced from ride to ride.
This was probably Brady's favorite. He saw it first and begged Andy to take him on the big slide. Andy was reluctant as he had taken Brady on one at a fair when he was 18 months old and he didn't like it very much. Brady was insistent and even was patient in the long line for his turn. He rode it twice and probably would have ridden it more had it not been for the long lines.
His second ride on the train, he was lucky enough to be first in line and got to ride in the engine and ring the bell.
For those who have seen the movie, you'll remember the hobo who rides on the top of the train (and who very well may be a ghost). We had seen him playing his harmonica against a building on the way out and when we arrived back at the station, he was sitting on top of another car, with a fire, and drinking his cup of coffee. The little touches were so cute.
When we got back on the train after visiting the North Pole, these were on every seat. So now, Brady has a bell from Santa so he can always believe.
On the ride home, the conductor came around again and punched out the word BELIEVE in all the kids' tickets. It was such a cute touch from the movie and something that will be in Brady's memory box for years to come.