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All Aboard! The Polar Express To Highlight Saratoga's Holiday Season


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 Polar Express Golden Ticket

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?

Share this story with others who might be interested in The Polar Express!

Learn more about The Polar Express in Saratoga »
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The Polar Express is hiring through Nov 5 »


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i was in saratoga recently, but didnt see the polar express. is it a all year round service?

No, this is not year round. 2011 is the inaugural year the Polar Express is running in Saratoga, and it's only select dates in November and almost every day in December. You can find the specific dates here: http://www.saratoga.com/event/the-polar-express-39385/


Not as good as we expected. they tried to split our group of 12 up. had to stand for20 min till they found us seats. another group of 9 behind us had the same problem. No caroling elves as advertised and Santa was having a bad hair day! Kids had a good time once we got settled-enjoyed getting tickets punched & the bell from Santa. Not reallyworth what we paid though.

Is this really the same one so badly reviewed recently on Tripadvisor as sadly a total waste of money and scarey character actors around the children.


Was very disapointed!! I'm not the cynical type but it could of been done much nicer. Hardly any decorations on the train and you could not hear whatever was coming through the speakers. also, the north pole was nothing but cardboard cuttings with one string of white lights around it. This ride is vey expensive as well...save your money!!One more thing to add the hot chocolate was cold!

I don't like to complain, but I was very disappointed. The decorations were lacking a "Wow" factor. At no time was there dancing elves, there was some singing but it lacked enthusiasm. Dancing elves and train staff were what we were looking forward to. The couple in front of us had taken the ride last year and said it was wonderful. They described their previous experience exactly as we had anticipated the ride to be. About half way through the ride the father asked one of the conductors where the dancing elves were, and the response was, "Well, sometimes this time of the year, Santa is short on helpers.". If there is a shortage of staff, preventing paying customers from getting what they paid for (not cheap), then there should be some sort of monetary compensation. As mentioned in another review, the North Pole also lacked the "Wow" factor! Many of the houses we went by on our way to the Railroad were more magical then the North Pole. The display could have been much better and should have been on both sides of the track. One side of the train had to get up and lean over the people on the other side to get a glimpse of the "North Pole". I know it may be a safety issue, but it would have been helpful if the lights could have been dimmed when at the North Pole. The good thing is that the kids were not aware of what we didn't get that we should have got! This was my Christmas gift to some of my family, we had looked so forward to the whole experince and left so deflated. It was a costly disappointment!

I don't know how much they paid this person to right a review or if she was blindfolded on the trip with a movie playing in that blindfold, but your description of your memorable ride was so off base it's almost border line false advertisement.I don't feel that painted wood with scenery on it constitutes a village of the "North Pole" You must have went when the cookies were fresh and the hot chocolate was just made, cause my experience was nothing like that. The cookies were stale and hard. The hot chocolate was thick and barely warm. For the amount of money that is charged for this so called memorable ride,it should be done better. How about contacting the boy scouts in the area and have them build little houses that are decorated for Christmas, Have a hut built for Santa instead of having him sit in a car waiting for the train.So the kids can see him come out of the hut to greet them. The people working need to really be happier cause I saw some attitudes shine through.I agree with Holly, It lacked the "WOW" factor big time.I don't see this being a long run for Saratoga especially when people talk about this unmemorable ride.So wake up before you don't have a Ride at all.


This was nothing like described in your review, It was terrible!!, a waste of time and money, just took this ride Saturday evening and it was a joke, a very expensive joke.

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