Riding the Polar Express and Train Rides with Santa
Celebrate the book on the Blackstone Valley Polar Express in Woonsocket or other train attractions in nearby towns.
Editor’s Note: This article was updated on Nov. 14., 2017 from an earlier version.
Many of us remember sitting on our parents’ laps and reading The Polar Express, written in 1985 by Chris Van Allsburg. Now those young fans who grew up with the book may have children of their own. Rhode Island has very special ties to this story; the author is a former professor at Rhode Island School of Design and lives right here in Providence. To celebrate the holiday season, you can pick up the book at a local bookstore, or you can watch the movie that was made in 2004, starring Tom Hanks. Or, better yet, put on your Christmas jammies and take a ride on the Polar Express train ride attraction in Woonsocket or train rides with Santa in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, and nearby, Carver, Massachusetts. Get ready to ride the choo-choo with Santa, starting not far from your home!
Board the Polar Express Train Ride at the historic Woonsocket Depot train station where elves, a cook, a snowman, the conductor and Santa will sing Christmas carols with children while they travel on the festively decorated train on their way to the North Pole. Children are all comfy in their pajamas and snow softly falls outside while the passengers make their way from the station to the train cars. Each car is named after one of Santa’s reindeer: Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen, you get the idea. The ninety-minute journey includes a reading of the book, sing-along songs, hot cocoa for each guest served in a take-home commemorative travel mug, cookies and a silver sleigh bell for every child, given to them by Santa himself. This is the real Santa, by the way. He has a real beard and rosy cheeks, and all of the children are so excited to meet him in person!
Halfway through the trip, the train will pull up to an actual red and white striped North Pole as you meet Santa, and the children will also be given candy canes, song books and coloring books with crayons to keep them actively engaged on the ride. The conductor will also make the rounds to punch everyone’s golden ticket. Before or after the journey, your family can meet Santa and take photos in Santa’s sleigh and participate in a raffle to win various train-themed gift baskets. There’s also an area where kids can color and write letters to Santa. Excursions to the North Pole are happening Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from November 17 through December 23. On Friday, November 17, Woonsocket native Emily Luther from “The Voice” will join the Blackstone Valley Polar Express at 5:30 p.m. for a special meet and greet appearance. Tickets are $45.50-$78.50 per person. Get tickets! 1 Depot Square, Woonsocket, 401-495-1213, blackstonevalleypolarexpress.com
Now departing Portsmouth Junction, guests can enjoy a breakfast or lunch ride with Santa. Only sixty tickets are sold for each trip, so children gets lots of time with the man in the big red suit. On the breakfast ride, choose between pancakes, French toast or scrambled eggs with sides of bacon, sausage or homefries. Kids get milk or juice, and adults can sip coffee or tea. For the lunchtime ride, choose between chicken nuggets, a hot dog, PB and J, mac ‘n’ cheese or yogurt sticks for the kids, and for adults, choose between the turkey club wrap with bacon, chicken or tuna salad sandwiches, BLT or mac ‘n’ cheese. The ride boards at Portsmouth Junction on Saturdays and Sundays at 10 a.m. (for breakfast) and 1 p.m. (for lunch) through December 23. It’s a ninety-minute ride. The train features First Class table seating for four individuals, so smaller groups will be seated with other people. Tables are only $119.80 for four guests, and individual ticket prices are $29.95. Tickets are available online. Melville Station, One Alexander Rd., Melville Marina, Portsmouth, 401-295-1203, trainsri.com/the-train-to-santas-workshop
Edaville in Carver, Massachusetts, not only offers the annual Christmas train as part of the Festival of Lights, but it also runs a special weeknight Where’s Santa? train ride. Guests will board the train with Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves for a forty-five-minute ride, during which one of the season’s stars will go missing, and the passengers will try to find him or her. Each guest will much on a cookie and sip chocolate milk while singing Christmas songs and dancing with elves who will hand out jingle bells. Guests also get a special gift. Ticket prices include the Edaville Festival of Lights and Thomas Land. This package is available on select Wednesday and Thursday nights from November 22 through Dec. 22 at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Check here for available dates. Tickets are $47 per person for ages two and up, and can be purchased online. Guests under the age of two can also purchase a gift for $18. 5 Pine St., Carver, Massachusetts, 508-866-8190, edaville.com