Tickets are now on sale for The Polar Express train ride leaving Batesville, MS for “The North Pole” this November 18 – December 23, 2016. My friend Betsy shared her experience from last year, and several readers helped out too with their comments and photos.
The Train Ride
From the moment of departure the kids were very entertained. Music from the Polar Express movie played over the speakers on the train, and there were singing and dancing chefs who stayed in character as they served hot chocolate and cookies. The conductor came by to stamp tickets with holes in the shape of the first letter in each child’s name. There was also a hobo character who entertained the kids by trying to steal their train tickets. The kids all thought this was hilarious.
Once the train arrived at the “North Pole” you could look out the windows to see the set-like “buildings.” Betsy went during the day and in hindsight says the buildings probably look more magical at night, lit up in Christmas lights. After this brief stop, the train switched directions and headed back to the station. On the trip back, Santa (who was wonderful!) and his elves made their rounds, stopping at each and every table to talk, give each child a silver bell, and let everyone take as many pictures as they wanted. The chefs and elves sang lots of traditional Christmas Carols, and before we knew it, we were back at the station.
- It was so much fun! Highly recommend. The cast was so interactive. I had ages 7, 6, and 3 year old twins. They take you to the North Pole then Santa hops on and spends quite a bit of time with each family.
- We took our twin 3.5 year old girls. We all wore our pjs and had a blast! The girls loved it! They got a golden ticket, hot chocolate, a cookie, and a bell from Santa!
- We went with a group and all the kids were 3 or younger. Everyone had a blast! The kids loved the train, the cookies and hot chocolate. Even though they didn’t really understand what was going on I would recommend it to any family with young children. We just had the regular coach seats and could still see everything just fine. Our whole group got to sit together in seats that faced each other. It was a great experience for us!
- I was skeptical at first given the price of the tickets, but we went anyway. 15 yo, 5 yo and 1 yo! Even our oldest had a great time (never happens!!)! The chefs and elves and conductor were all amazing. My favorite was the hobo – great interaction with the whole family!
- We went last Wednesday for the 5:30 pm ride and paid extra for the VIP. Our boys are 7 and 9 years old. Our boys were not that impressed and got bored, especially when the characters walked around with the Polar Express book and showed pictures from it. The actors started off well, with lots of enthusiasm, but it didn’t last. Riding by the North Pole and waving to Santa was a bit of a let down to my 7 year old. Its hard to complete with my son’s high expectations from the movie’s North Pole. The Santa that came into our car was very nice, though. He did a great job. I don’t know that I’d recommend this for children over 6 years old. Be sure to snack and go to the bathroom before you get on the train ride.
- My daughter and niece enjoyed the experience. It was magical for the children. I guess I assumed singing and choreography (hand routines of some sort to go with singing to encourage interacting). The girls did March in the aisle and they were super excited about that. All in all we ended up with happy girls, which added to them believing in the unimaginable. Great family time!
- Overall, my kids (7, 5 and 2) enjoyed it. We probably won’t be back, however, due to the nightmarish lack of leg room. That was in first class, and since all the cars are different, I can only speak of the train car we were on. There is also a “Diamond Class” observation car that may have more room, and perhaps other first class cars offer more space.
Plan on one hour to get from East Memphis to Batesville, there was plenty of free parking on the little town square by the train. There were several food trucks set up if you want to grab a bite to eat. There are also two heated tents to hang out in if it’s cold. One was a gift shop and the other tent had a couple of large TVs and rows of chairs, and it looked like it might have been set up to show the movie, but nothing was playing when we were in there.
There are three ticket options: Standard, First Class and Diamond Class. Betsy paid for First Class tickets but her group had significant leg room issues for the adults. All of the cars are different, and seats are assigned. If you’re booking a group larger than four, the website says they make every attempt to seat groups together. Instead of seating her group across the aisle from each other, two from her party were seated on a different row, with the tall backs of the chairs backing up to the rest of the family. With the exception of the few minutes with Santa, her group couldn’t really interact during the entire trip.
The Polar Express
The Grenada Railroad
6780 Center Street East
Horn Lake, MS