The Polar Express Train Ride at Great Smoky Mountain Railroad

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For the last few years, The Polar Express has been my youngest sons’ favorite Christmas book and movie; to the point where weeks after Christmas he acts out the beginning scenes.

“Well, are you coming?
me: where?
“Why to the North Pole, of course! THIS is The Polar Express”

All day long, through Valentines Day.

Normally, December for our family means a trip to Disney, but since we took a quick weekend getaway back in September for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, we decided to visit The Great Smoky Mountains this year.

We stayed at Windham Smoky Mountains in Dolly Parton’s hometown of Sevierville. Since we were close to The Great Smoky Mountain Railroad, a ride on The Polar Express at Great Smoky Mountain Railroad in Bryson, NC was definitely in order.


photo courtesy Great Smoky Mountain Railroad website
photo courtesy Great Smoky Mountain Railroad website

Once we arrived to Bryson, City we were directed to the station where I exchanged our online paper tickets for actual tickets; young kids receive a very special golden ticket similar to the one in the movie! 

We toured the train museum (free with ticket purchase) and once the train arrived in the station and the previous occupants dispersed, we were promptly ushered to our seats.   

photo courtesy of GSMR website

We were served hot cocoa (perfect temperature for kids) with a generous dollop of whip cream on top and chocolate chip cookies while the we listened to The Polar Express story and made our way to the North Pole!

Upon arrival, Santa visited each child on the train and handed them a silver bell; all four of my kids (even the 18 year old) got one!

We were so impressed with the interaction that Santa had with Zachary, if you watch the video to the end, you’ll see what I mean!

On our return trip back to the train depot, our mugs were taken and washed for us and presented back with a reusable souvenir bag to carry everything home while we sang Christmas carols with our chef!

In the weeks leading up to our trip, I wanted to help extend the fun and magic of Christmas on this special night during vacation, so I grabbed a few items that I thought the family would enjoy.

I also hosted a Polar Express YouTube Collaboration with some YouTube friends!

The website recommends wearing pajamas to reinforce the magic of the trip and we’ll most likely oblige. I have my eye on these merino wool pajamas from Simply Merino for little man; they look absolutely cozy and adorable!We brought our copy of The Polar Express, for down time at the condo. Our waiter held open a large version of the book for the kids while a recording of the story was played overhead. 

It was about an hour and 40 minutes from Sevierville, TN to the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad in Bryson City, NC, so when I wasn’t concentrating on the curvy, steep route up the mountain, we played   The Polar Express (digital version)Now, I’m a New England girl, born and raised but having lived in South Carolina now for eight years, I’ve become kind of a cold-weather wimp.  Once the temperatures dip below 50, I’m done for. To ensure cozy comfort though, whenever we plan ski trips to Massanutten or in this case, a winter trip to the mountains, I brought several packs of Hot Hands Hand Warmers.

Because our tickets are scheduled for a day right in the middle of our trip, I will also picked up a few things to do at the condo before the trip to kind of build up the excitement. All four of my kids love jigsaw puzzles, so The Polar Express Train Puzzle was the perfect evening activity.Another option is the Polar Express Opoly board game it seems the perfect activity for the family during the holidays!  


First-Class tickets for six of us were $430 and included a souvenir mug, some fun snacks and the first gift of Christmas for each child (silver bell) I am so happy that we had this experience and I truly feel that the family memories we take with us were well worth every penny!

THE POLAR EXPRESS at Great Smoky Mountain Railroad begins November 10, 2017, and operates through December 31, 2017. 




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