Step into the magical world of the Grand Canyon Railroad’s Polar Express, where despite the frigid weather, good cheer fills the air. The Polar Express is a winter event with a nine-year history. It allows visitors to live the classic book by Chris Van Allsburg through the transformation of the Grand Canyon Railroad in Williams.
Once the train departs to the “North Pole” to visit Santa Claus, visitors can expect to promptly be served chocolate chip cookies and hot chocolate by chefs dressed in garb similar to the animated movie and storybook. Charismatic hosts raise morale even higher with a guided reading of “The Polar Express.”
The railway car’s chefs walk around to show the book’s illustrations for passengers without a copy of the book, published in 1985. The trip reaches the grand finale when the train arrives at the North Pole, an elaborately decorated town near the Grand Canyon abounding with oversized gifts and Santa’s workshop.
It is here that the star of the show, Santa Claus, appears and prepares to board the train to give commemorative reindeer bells to the eager young faces waiting to meet him. The bells are a key part of the Polar Express story and symbolize belief in the Christmas spirit.
With an enthusiastic cast of hosts, delicious snacks, fun holiday tunes and a visit with Santa Claus, the Polar Express is a great way for families to indulge in the holiday mood. Keep in mind, the event gets very crowded, very fast. People arriving even an hour before the train departure time will find parking to be an issue. Jim Matson, the assistant retail manager for the Grand Canyon Railroad retail shops, said that most nights the event sells out and sometimes the weekend trips sell out a year in advance.
“We urge a lot of people to get their tickets early. Most nights are quite busy,” Matson said. The Polar Express runs through Jan. 9. For more information, visit www.thetrain.com.
Helpful Hint for adults: If a reindeer bell is desired, just tell Santa Claus you’re a believer and he’ll excuse your age as he grants you the gift with a smile and the promise of a “Merry Christmas.”
If you go…
Grand Canyon Railway Polar Express
When: Dec. 16 to Jan. 9
Where:233 N. Grand Canyon Blvd. Williams, Arizona
Sun to Thurs: Children $14, Adults $29
Fri and Sat: Children $19, Adults $29
Christmas Eve: Children $38, Adults $58
For reservations call:1-800-843-8723