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The Polar Express Train Ride in Sacramento

Review of the Polar Express Train Ride in Old Sacramento

Relive the magical journey of The Polar Express on an hour-long train ride trip to the North Pole departing from Old Sacramento.

Grab your pajamas and experience a whimsical ride on the Polar Express where you'll enjoy hot chocolate and yummy cookies, as you ride along with many of the beloved story’s characters such as the Train Conductor, the Dancing Waiters, and even a ghostly Hobo. Once you reach the North Pole, Santa Claus will make his way on board to give each passenger a silver sleigh bell, the “first gift of Christmas”.

For 2019, the Polar Express train rides start November 29th and go through December 22nd.  Tickets for this fun event went on sale at the end of September and see out very fast.

The Polar Express Train Ride schedule includes up to four departures per day at 3:30 pm, 5:00 pm, 6:30 pm and 8:00 pm.

  • Friday, Saturday and Sunday for dates starting November 29th to December 1st
  • Wednesdays through Sundays for dates starting December 4th through December 22nd

What Can You Expect on the Train Ride?
The Polar Express Train Ride will last approximately one hour, although you'll want to arrive early for your departure to grab your tickets and enjoy the holiday decorations throughout the train station.

The following pictures and experience we had on the Polar Express Train Ride was for a 3:30 pm departure on a weekday in a first class car, the French Quarter Lounge Car.

Your first stop will be the Central Pacific Passenger Station where you will pick up your tickets.

After grabbing tickets, be sure to take a look around the holiday store, take photos, and write a letter to Santa and drop it off for mailing!

Approximately forty-five minutes prior to your departure time, you will be able to line up according to the boarding number listed on your ticket, with actual boarding starting fifteen minutes to departure.

Once on board the train, you will travel to the North Pole while the story of The Polar Express is read aloud.

As you settle into your seats, begin the story and enjoy your hot chocolate and treat, dancing waiters will fly through the cars, just like from the book!

As you make your way to the North Pole, you will catch a glimpse of Santa and his elves while the train readies for the return trip back to the station.

As you head back to Old Sacramento, Santa will come aboard and walk through each car to give out the a silver sleigh bell to every passenger.

Once you depart the train, be sure to make your way over to the Eagle Theatre, where you'll find Santa and be able to take a commemorative photo with him.

What You Need to Know Before Buying Tickets
The Polar Express Train Ride consists of six separate cars pulled by vintage locomotives from the California State Railroad Museum’s collection.  The six different train cars offer different pricing and treats, but the overall experience will be the same regardless of what you select.

The six different train cars are the Katy Coach Car, Gingerbread Coach Car, Audubon Dining Car, French Quarter Lounge Car, El Dorado Observation Car, El Dorado Parlor and El Dorado Lounge.  For pricing and a description of each car, be sure to check out the California State Railroad Museum website for additional information

Ticket prices range from $45 to $70 depending on the train car, class of service and departure time, with children under 2 years of age being free when seated on an adult’s lap.

Note that First Class tickets typically sell out first and are well worth the extra splurge in my opinion.  In addition to boarding first, you'll find roomier accommodations and receive hot chocolate served in a commemorative keepsake mug.

Ticket Sales typically start at the end of September and depending on whether you're a member of the museum of not, may have access to advance ticket sales at a slightly reduced member price.  Since tickets for this event sell out really fast, it may be worth considering becoming a member of the California State Railroad Museum to guarantee a particular train car for a specific date and time.  If you haven't been to to the California State Railroad Museum, I highly recommend visiting and be sure to check out my review of the museum here.  If you're not a member of the museum, remaining tickets go on sale to the general public on October 1 every year.

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