Darkness has set, and children in their pajamas board a magical train on a frosty holiday evening, anticipating the adventure that awaits them.
The train conductor punches a hole in their golden tickets, which bear the name of the train, "The Polar Express." Cheery music plays as the train's chefs do a merry dance while delivering hot cocoa and cookies for every child, and the doubting hobo wanders around the train.
The destination is the bright and mystical North Pole, where holiday magic is in the air, and Santa and his elves climb aboard. Santa delivers a silver bell to each child, which only rings if they believe. The elves join in the merriment, singing Christmas carols, as the magic of the season comes to life for every boy and girl.
It may sound like a scene from a movie (and actually, it is), but for the first time, children will be able to experience this adventure first hand in Saratoga Springs this holiday season. Throughout November and December, the Polar Express story is being brought to life by the Saratoga North Creek Railroad without missing a single one of the important details above.
My daughter and I had the pleasure of boarding the magical train yesterday in Saratoga Springs for a sneak peek at what The Polar Express will deliver to thousands of children (and adults) this holiday season.
Now, I put adults in parentheses above, but perhaps it's not as parenthetical as you might think. Special Events Director Debra Goodman explained that in other cities where they have been running The Polar Express for years, 70% of ticket sales for The Polar Express each holiday season go to adults! She counts it as proof that you never outgrow the need to believe in holiday magic, even if your excuse is to see your child or grandchild enjoy the adventure. (Shhh, we won't tell anyone you secretly still believe in Santa).
And even if you have doubts, I overheard the conductor say, "It's an opportunity to make this real for a lot of people. If you don't believe, you will by the time you leave!"
And I can see that happening, actually. With $1 million invested, the Saratoga North Creek Railroad is making The Polar Express story come to life for families this holiday season. They hired Oprah's set designer to decorate the extravagant "North Pole" (a secret destination with "all other points south" where Santa and his Elves live). I'm told the lights at the North Pole will be spectacular, not to mention Northern Lights in the sky above the pines, just like in the story!
The inside of the train itself will also be all decked out in holiday cheer for the event. Each table will feature goodies, which we got to sample yesterday. They were delicious. The sugar cookies were soft and chewy with just the right amount of sweetness. The hot cocoa with whipped cream and marshmallows was to die for. And the magic of having the chefs dancing (a choreographed dance) as they deliver these goodies (while children smile, clap and sing along) is going to be priceless.
When all is said and done, an estimated total of 50,000 cups of hot cocoa will be served, warming every child (and child at heart), on The Polar Express this season. That's a lot of cocoa!
So how do you get tickets, and how much do they cost? I thought you'd be wondering, so here's the deal on tickets. Polar Express tickets range from $10 to $55 dollars (plus tax), depending on age and class of service. Dome is equivalent to first class, and you get more comfortable seating and a really nice Polar Express souvenir mug that you get to take home with you. Specific pricing details here
Debra Goodman told me December tickets sell out fast, but that November dates are really nice because the experience can really ramp up the holiday season for your family.
"It's the emotion when family gets together that really is the most significant part of the event," said Goodman.
This may be the inaugural year The Polar Express is running in Saratoga, but we bet it will instantly become a holiday tradition for your family. Have you got your tickets yet?
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