The Polar Express is back at Union Station and the media got a sneak peek and a ride on the train. The popular children’s book, published 37 years ago by Chris Van Allsburg, was made into a movie in 2004 starring Tom Hanks.
The book was a Caldecutt Award winner and the movie a huge success. One of the cool things about the Polar Express is that there’s a shot of the author from Allsburg reading the book and the characters holding up large ones and showing the photos to the riders.
This was very moving even for the adult riders, as it brought back memories of their own childhood when their teacher or parents read to them and held up the book to show the pages.
While this was going on there was hot chocolate and a giant chocolate chip cookie – gluten free. Somehow the cocoa and cookies even tasted like childhood
Amazon.com says of the book, “For millions of readers around the world, this mysterious journey to the North Pole has become a beloved Christmas classic.”
Union Station is exciting with all the lights, the pop-up bar “Sleigh Shed” and the ferris wheel around the bright lights of the Polar Express. Before the train departs, guests can visit the interior space, a wonderland of Christmas decorations.
According to IMDb, “The Polar Express is the story of a young hero who boards a powerful magical train that heads to the North Pole and Santa’s house on Christmas Eve. On this ride, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery that shows him that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe.
For kids of all ages who have read the book or watched the movie, a trip to the Polar Express presentation at Union Station feels like you’re actually inside the story. Characters come to life as costumed actors interact with the guests. The conductor greets the train passengers and one of Santa’s elves and some bakers walk up and down the aisles to address the riders.
The train, yes it is actually a train and you get to ride it for 45 minutes. The train is dressed up as the Polar Express as described in the book and shown in the media. The train departs and as the book nears the end of the story, Christmas lights are suddenly spotted out the window and he passes “The North Pole” where Santa Claus is standing on a platform waving to the children – old and young. The wonder on the children’s faces when they see Santa Claus is amazing.
Just as the train reaches the North Pole, it stops and Santa Claus comes aboard. As he walks down the aisles, the kids can’t believe it and are over the moon when he actually stops and talks to them.
The highlight of the trip is when Santa has gone through the train once, he picks up a box of bells and goes back out, handing out bells to all the kids, encouraging them to ring the bell and “believe”.
Train runs will begin at St. Louis Union Station on November 18 and continue through December 30, 2022.
Bus tickets for this St. Louis holiday event start at $35 and can be purchased online at www.stlpolarexpressride.com. First Class and Premium seats are also available. Prices vary by day, time and ticket class. Group tickets are available for groups of 10 or more.
Trains depart from St. Louis Union Station every night during the season at 4:30 PM, 6:00 PM, and 7:15 PM. Trains also run at 8:30 PM on selected dates.
After the train rides, children can write letters to Santa Claus with paper and pens in a special room. There is a mailbox in which they can post the letters.
There are tons of photo ops, including a snowman couch and various decors around the room. We can’t say enough about how much fun the whole experience is. The creative developers did a great job with everything from the delicious cocoa and cookies to the free souvenir “Polar Express” mugs.
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