The Polar Express at Texas State Railroad in Palestine, TX is so much fun! We booked a few weeks ago and got to take the kids on the Polar Express last night! Palestine sits just south east of Dallas and it took us 2.5 hrs to get there. We went early enough that we got to enjoy a beautiful scenic drive, full of fall colors and tall trees! Breath taking actually.
We arrived in Palestine a little early, so we stopped off at Kroger to grab a few snacks, incase we got hungry. You are allowed to take food and drinks in a small cooler onto the train.
Once we got to the train station, we parked and walked up to the Will Call booth. We did not need to show our ticket confirmation, and just gave our last name. They had our tickets ready for us. (The booth is divided for quick pick up… A-L on one side and M-Z on the other.) The line was very short!
Once we had our tickets, we had a few minutes to burn, so we checked out the gift shop. I was surprised at how bare the giftshop was. They had adorable hats (as pictured on my girls below) and we saw ornaments, toys, shirts, and a fun photo frame as well. I am not sure if they just got slammed and hadn’t restocked, but it was pretty cleared out.
I also did NOT see the book or DVD in their shop. These might have been in a spot that we couldn’t see them, but I was also surprised by that.
Outside before you board, you can grab some eats. They had hotdogs, drinks and a few other items. We didn’t get anything there so I can’t attest to the quality or prices. We did see an Ice cream shack that was closed. Thought that was a little odd on such a cold night, but then again in Texas it can be 70 in December.
We made our way inside to use the restrooms one last time and then overheard one of the workers say that they would board 30 minutes before the scheduled time to leave. The train was not there so we stayed inside until the train came.
Once we heard the train, we made our way outside. The tickets have a car number on them and we quickly found the line we needed to be in and stood to wait to board the Polar Express.
We waited for the passengers to unload and then we started boarding. It was very organized as they let the passengers from the last cart board first, then us, then the cart in front of us. This was a pretty long train, so I figured that it must have had a ton of people helping.
Once on the train, we were greeted with a cheerful hello and told that we could sit anywhere we wanted. There were seats facing forward, backwards and facing each other. We could easily change our seats to face any direction and we thought that was really smart! Once the train got moving, we were served hot chocolate (which was JUST the right temp…so no one got burnt!) and a cookie. There was tons of singing and dancing. Then the cabin dimmed a bit and The Polar Express book was read aloud. The staff walked around with the book showing the pictures as it was read. Most passengers brought their own copy to read thru.
After a bit of traveling, the train stopped…and we were at the North Pole. We saw Santa and some of his elves. They waved and the kids went wild. Photos of this area where hard to get as the train windows were fogging up quickly and each cart did not stop right in front.
Santa then boarded the train and gave each kid a bell. If I had one major complaint…it would be that Santa didn’t look very “Santa” like. We have seen Santa two times this past week at various malls and my kids were sure he had glasses…but this one didn’t. In a perfect world, I would have liked if Santa could have sat with the kids for a bit and asked them what they wanted for Christmas. This part felt a little rushed.
Then back to Palestine we went. The ride back was FILLED with holiday cheer as the kids danced and sang up and down the isles. We sang a ton of Christmas songs and really enjoyed watching everyone in pure holiday bliss.
Upon returning, we unloaded and went to take a quick photo in front of their huge Polar Express back drop.
We had a great time and would highly recommend it as a family fun tradition.
A few things you need to know:
Take a point and shoot camera, as smart phones don’t have a quick enough shutter speed to capture clear photos when in motion. The train was bumpy enough that most of our iphone photos are blurry.
Take your own copy of The Polar Express. Your kids will appreciate being able to read along with the overhead reading.
Take a blanket. It was a bit chilly on the train and we weren’t prepared to be so chilly
Most people have matching pajamas…so be prepared for that…and go comfy!
Parking is FREE but you might have to walk a little ways
There isn’t much in Palestine, TX so don’t plan on a nice dinner at a fancy restaurant before going… we didn’t see much at all there.
Dec. 15th, all tips to workers will be donated to Toys of Tots
There are NO refunds or reservation changes allowed.
The address for your GPS: Park Road 70 PALESTINE, TX 75801
Nov 29-30, Dec 1, 4-8, 11-23, 26-29 at 3:45pm, 5:15pm, 6:45pm, 8:10pm