Ride the Polar Express

I never heard the story of the Polar Express until a few years ago. I am not a big fan of the movie but my children simply love it. I do, however, love trains.  I find trains both historic and romantic. With so many children in love with both the Polar Express book and movie, adding a train trip to your family Christmas traditions is sure to be successful. The Polar Express is a holiday themed train trip presented by the Grand Canyon Railway each year and it is sure to delight your little ones.

My family rode the Polar express for the first time this year and we were all full of excitement when we arrived. The Depot was abuzz with happy children who were busy visiting Mrs. Claus, writing letters to Santa, creating ornaments and other crafts, and getting their pictures taken with Santa. It was a freezing cold night that just made the mood even more wintry. The train departed the Depot in Williams for a fun and entertaining journey through the dark, cold, and quiet wilderness of Northern Arizona. The train’s destination? The “North Pole” and Santa Claus! That might seem impossible to you non-believers, but the trip in both directions is aided by a time warp.

As in life, it is not just the destination that  matters, but how you get there. On the way to the North Pole, travelers (who are usually wearing pajamas), enjoy hot chocolate and chocolate chip cookies while listening to a reading of  The Polar Express. My daughter did not pay much attention to the story, though.  She was too busy staring out the window waiting to catch the first glimpse of Santa.  She was completely overjoyed when we finally arrived at the North Pole and especially when Santa came on board the train and hand delivered a sleigh bell to each and every child (I got one, too!). I was expecting cheap bells but was very pleased to see very pretty and sturdy bells that we will be able to keep for years. In fact, my five year old daughter says the bells were her favorite part of the entire trip.

I cannot complete this review without mentioning the train staff. The young women who served us, sang with us, and always had a smile on their faces. In my opinion, they really made the hour long ride ride warm, friendly, and entertaining. The conductor was great, too. He came into the train and made sure each child had his or her ticket, just like in the movie.  He even punched the ticket and made confetti on our heads. Tickets to the Polar Express sell out fast so call and see if you can still get in this year. If not, be sure to plan for next year.

In addition, be sure to book a room at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel. We felt good knowing that after the train ride we could go straight over to our warm room and enjoy the amenities of the hotel. A few of the other families we met on the train were heading back to the valley after the train ride, on cold, wet, and dark night.  Checkout my review of the hotel here.

About Janice

Janice is an Arizona native, a soldier's girl, daughter of the King, and mother to two. She shares family activity ideas, recipes, crafts, and product reviews at Celebrating Family. Read more about Janice here!


  1. Debra Wagner says

    That looks amazing, I want to go!!


  1. […] up to the Grand Canyon a decade ago but more recently we took our children to experience the Polar Express train trip for a little Christmas cheer. We stayed in the Grand Canyon Railroad Hotel both times […]