The Polar Express Train Rides, 2017 Schedule

Officially licensed The Polar Express train rides have become an increasingly popular attraction across the country since Warner Brothers Pictures released the film in November, 2004. Numerous organizations, from museums to tourist railroads, now host such themed rides every November and December (some even run into early January).  They feature a story-telling of Chris Van Allsburg's magical tale, The Polar Express, which comes complete with hot chocolate and cookies. When possible, and if available, a steam locomotive is used to pull the train.  I have had the experience to enjoy one of these events.  If you have the means, I highly recommend taking your kids, grandchildren, or nieces/nephews!  They are excellent.  Please Note!  While I have striven to make sure the information presented is accurate to the best of my knowledge, I cannot say-so with 100% certainty.  Please contact each individual organization regarding available trains, specific dates, times, and ticket pricing.

If you would like to learn more about traditional Christmas/holiday train ride locations please click here.

Official The Polar Express Train Rides, 2017 Schedule

Please Read!!!  Many, but not all, schedules for official The Polar Express events in 2017 have been released.  They are denoted in the information below.   The rest are from the 2016 season (please ignore).  As additional information becomes available this page will be updated throughout the year.  Please continue to check back.  Thanks!

Alabama

No events known.

Alaska

No events yet known.

Arizona

Grand Canyon Railway: Operates official The Polar Express events from early, November through early January on select dates. The train departs Williams Depot and lasts a little over an hour.  Dates: November 10-12, 16-19, 22, 24-27, 29-30; December 1-4, 6-11, 13-24, 26-30; January 4-6.

Arkansas

No events known.

California

California State Railroad Museum:  Lasting about one-hour, official The Polar Express train rides run most weekends at the museum from late November and throughout most of December.  Dates: November 24-26 and November 29-December 21 (Wednesdays through Sundays). 

RailTown 1897:  RailTown 1897 offers official The Polar Express events during select dates in December.  Located in Jamestown, California RailTown has been popular for many years, operating a variety of steam locomotives.   Dates: November 25-26, December 1-3, December 15-17.

Colorado

Colorado Railroad Museum:  The Colorado Railroad Museum, one of the state's largest railroad attractions, hosts official The Polar Express events around the museum grounds from late November through December.  Dates:  Every day from November 9th through December 23rd.

Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad:  Hosts official The Polar Express train rides every day from November through January, 2016. Not only does the railroad feature classic steam locomotives but the views are just as splendid. It is one of the most popular versions of ThePolar Express offered around the country and sells out quickly.  Dates:  Every day from November 17, 2017 through January 2, 2018.

Connecticut

No events known.

Delaware

No events known.

Florida

Gold Coast Railroad Museum:  This organization, based in Miami, now hosts official The Polar Express train rides from late November through late December.  To learn more about dates and pricing please visit their website.

Orlando & North Western Railway (New!):  This new service (replacing what was formerly the Tavares, Eustis & Gulf; it began in 2011 using a steam locomotive but made its last run on January 29, 2017) is expected to begin hosting excursions late summer of 2017, serving Tavares and Lake County (ranging from dinner trains to various other special events).  They have also stated official The Polar Express train rides will be operated for Christmas season in 2017.

Georgia

No events known.

Hawaii

No events known.

Idaho

No events known.

Illinois

Chicago Union Station:  A special The Polar Express now operates directly out of this historic station, hosted in conjunction with Amtrak.  This season it is scheduled to depart every day from December 1, 2017 through January 1, 2018 except on Christmas Day.  For complete information about this trip please click here.

Fox River Trolley Museum:  Based in South Elgin, the museum hosts official The Polar Express train rides during late November and most weekends in December.  Dates:  November 19, November 25-26, December 2-3, December 9-10, and December 16-17.

Monticello Railway Museum:  This museum based in Monticello, which also offers train rides on the grounds, hosts official The Polar Express train rides during select dates in late November through early December.  Dates:  November 17-19, 24-26; December 1-3, 8-9.

Indiana

Indiana Railway Museum/French Lick Scenic Railway: This museum/tourist line, operating a 20-mile round trip excursion through the Hoosier National Forest, hosts official The Polar Express train rides every Friday through Sunday beginning on November 3rd and running until December 23rd, 2017.  

Whitewater Valley Railroad: Hosts official The Polar Express train rides during select dates during November and December.  Dates:  November 17-19, November 24-26, December 1-3, December 8-10, and December 15-17.  This excursion line also offers other Christmas-themed rides including the Santa Claus Limited and Metamora Holiday Special Excursions.

Iowa

No events known.

Kansas

No events known.

Kentucky

Big South Fork Scenic Railway:  The Big South Fork Scenic Railway, based in Stearns, Kentucky operates a 16-mile round-trip tourist train through the Daniel Boone National Forest and Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area.  They are scheduled to host official The Polar Express events during November and December in 2017. To learn more please visit their website. 

Louisiana

New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal:  In association with Amtrak official The Polar Express train rides will depart from the historic New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal during the 2016 holiday season.  For complete scheduling information please click here.

Maine

Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad:  The Maine Narrow-Gauge Railroad & Museum operates a two-foot narrow-gauge railroad using restored steam locomotives. The railroad operates a number of special events and trains throughout the year including The Polar Express train rides on select dates in late November through Christmas: November 24-26, December 1-3, December 8-10, December 15-17, and December 19-23.

Maryland

Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum: The popular B&O museum now offers official The Polar Express train rides during late November.  Dates:  November 17-19 and November 24-26.  The organization also hosts several other different Christmas-related events and activities during hte holiday season, including short train rides, story-time with Mrs. Claus, and breakfast with Santa  Please visit their website to learn more. 

Massachusetts

No events yet known.

Michigan

No events known.

Minnesota

No events known.

Mississippi

No events yet known.

Missouri

Branson Scenic Railway: Based in Branson this tourist line offers popular excursions throughout the year.  They also host official The Polar Express train rides during much of November and December.  Dates: November: 3-5, 9-12, 16-19, 22, 24-26, 30; December: 1-2,  4-23.

St. Louis Union Station:   The St. Louis Union Station will host official The Polar Express train rides from November 24 through December 30th.  According to the organization the trip will "depart from St. Louis Union Station for a 45 minute adventure to the North Pole filled with magic, songs, and cheer."

Montana

No events known.

Nebraska

No events yet known.

Nevada

Nevada Northern Railway:  The popular Nevada Northern, based in East Ely, hosts official The Polar Express train rides during select dates in late November and during December. To learn more about scheduling and pricing please visit their website.  Dates:  November 18, November 24-25, December 1-3, December 8-10, December 15-18, December 20-23, and December 26-30.

Virginia & Truckee:  The historic, rebuilt Virginia & Truckee, based in Virginia City hosts several special excursions throughout the year.  This includes official The Polar Express train rides during November and December.  According to the railroad they host this event, Thursday through Sunday from Saturday, November 18 to Saturday, December 30 (in addition to one Wednesday).  To learn more about scheduling please visit their website.

New Hampshire

No events known.

New Jersey

Delaware River Railroad Excursions/New York Susquehanna & Western Technical & Historical Society:  Based in Phillipsburg, this excursion line hosts official The Polar Express train rides during late November and through most of December.  Dates:  November 24-26, December 1-3, December 8-10, and December 15-17. 

Morristown & Erie Railway:  A private and historic freight railroad the M&E, will play host to official The Polar Express train rides on the following dates:  November 18-19, November 24-26, December 1-3, December 7-10, December 14-24, and December 26-31.

New Mexico

No events known.

New York

Adirondack Scenic Railroad:  One of New York's most popular excursions, the Adirondack Scenic hosts official The Polar Express train rides from late November through most of December, departing from Utica Union Station.  The railroad also hosts other Christmas-themed rides including the Santa Train (departs Thendara) and the Adirondack Christmas Train (departs Utica).  Dates for The Polar Express (departs Utica):  November: 17-19, 24-26; December 1-3, 7-10, 14-19.

Catskill Mountain Railroad:  Based in Mt. Pleasant, New York the Catskill Mountain Railroad operates on trackage originally built by the Ulster & Delaware Railroad, later owned by the New York Central, which travels through the beautiful Catskill Mountain region. It hosts official The Polar Express train rides on these dates:  November 17-19, November 24-26, December 1-3, December 8-10, December 15-17, December 21-23, and December 27-28.

Medina Railroad Museum:  This museum based in Medina has a significant collection of rolling stock on the grounds.  They also offer excursions and host official The Polar Express train rides on select dates in November and December.  Dates:  November 25-26, December 2-3, December 9-10, and December 16-17.

North Fork Trolley Company:  The Northfork Trolley Company, provides tourist train rides on the North Fork of Long Island.  They are based in Aquebogue and will host official The Polar Express events.  Please visit their website to learn more about scheduling, dates, and times.

North Carolina

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad:  Hosts official The Polar Express train rides from November through December.  One of the premier events offered by any tourist railroad with three different classes of service during your trip to choose from you can also enjoy the spectacular views of the Smoky Mountains.  Dates: November: 10,11, 17-22, 24-26, 29-30; December 1-24, 26-31.

North Carolina Transportation Museum:  The state's largest railroad museum, based in the former Southern's historic shops at Spencer, now hosts official The Polar Express train rides from mid-November and throughout much of December.  Dates:  November 17-18, November 24-26, December 1-3, December 8-10, and December 14-22.

North Dakota

No events yet known.

Ohio

Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad:  One of the most popular excursion lines in the country offers a wide range of events throughout the year.  They also host official The Polar Express train rides during much of November and December.  Dates: November 11–December 21 (7 PM), December 9-December 16 (3 PM).  Will not run on Wednesday, November 22nd and Thursday, November 23rd.

Dennison Railroad Depot Museum:  Located within the restored Pennsylvania Railroad depot at Dennison, hosts official The Polar Express train rides during select dates in December.  Dates:  December 1-3 and December 8-10.

Oklahoma

No events known.

Oregon

No events known.

Pennsylvania

No events known.

Rhode Island

Blackstone Valley Tourism Council:  The council is based in Woonsocket and hosts official The Polar Express train rides on select days through late November and much of December.  Dates: November: 17-19, 24-26; December: 1-3, 8-10, 15-17, 22-23.

Newport & Narragansett Bay Railroad:  Based in Newport hosts a themed-trip called the "Dickens Christmas Dinner Train."  Guests will enjoy a meal while enjoying a retelling of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" by the Marley Bridges Theatre Company.  To learn more please visit the railroad's website.

South Carolina

No events known.

South Dakota

No events known.

Tennessee

No events known.

Texas

Texas State Railroad:  One of the state's most popular attractions hosts official The Polar Express train rides from late November and throughout most of December.  Some of their events are even powered by an actual steam locomotive.  Dates:  November 11-12, November 18-22, November 24-30, December 1-3, December 8-10, December 13-23, and December 26-27.

Utah

No events known.

Vermont

Green Mountain Railroad/Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce/Vermont Children's Trust Foundation:  Based in White River Junction these two organizations come together to host official The Polar Express train rides during December.  The Green Mountain Railroad has operated since 1964 utilizing much of the former Rutland Railroad, a historic system which served much of its home state.  To learn more about this event please visit the link included.  Dates:  December 9-10.

White River Rotary Club:  The club at White River Junction was established in 1924.  According to their website, "Rotary is an organization of business and professional leaders united worldwide who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world. In more than 160 countries worldwide, approximately 1.2 million Rotarians belong to more than 30,000 Rotary clubs."  They host official The Polar Express train rides on December 9-10.

Virginia

No events known.

Washington

Chehalis-Centralia Railroad & Museum:  Located in Chehalis, this museum hosts official The Polar Express train rides during late November and much of December.  Weekend Dates (Friday - Sunday):  November 24-December 17.  Please note that they also offer Santa Steam Trains not related to the Polar Express during select dates in December.

Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad: The Mt. Rainier Scenic hosts official The Polar Express train rides on these dates:  November 17-19, November 22, November 24-26, December 1-3, December 7-10, December 13-24, and December 26-28.

West Virginia

Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad/West Virginia Central Railroad:  Hosts official The Polar Express train rides on select dates throughout most of November and December.  The trains board at the restored Western Maryland depot in Elkins with the journey lasting about an hour.   Dates:  November 5, November 8-12, November 15-19, November 25-26, November 28-30, December 1-3, December 5-10, and December 12-17.

Wisconsin

National Railroad Museum:  The National Railroad Museum in Green Bay hosts official The Polar Express train rides from mid-November through early DecemberTo learn more please visit their website.  Dates:  November 17-19, November 24-26, November 29-30, and December 1-3.

Wyoming

No events yet known.

Canada

Aspen Crossing Railway:  This excursion train, based in Mossleigh, Alberta, will host official The Polar Express excursions.  Their 2017 schedule is as follows: November 24-26, December 1-3, December 8-10, and December 14-24.

West Coast Railway Heritage Park:  Located in Vancouver, British Columbia and established in 1961 the WCRA's mission is to preserve Canada's railroad history through restoration and preservation.  They maintain the West Coast Railway Heritage Park in Squamish, British Columbia which includes a total of 12 acres that features, among other attractions, a station and Canadian National roundhouse.   They also host official The Polar Express events on these dates:  November 25-26, December 2-3, December 9-10, and December 16-17.

Waterloo Central Railway:  This heritage railroad began service in 2007, operated by the Southern Ontario Locomotive Restoration Society (SOLRS) and owned by the Region of Waterloo.  It utilizes a section of the former Canadian National between Elmira and Kitchener, Ontario.  For the first time in 2017 they will host official The Polar Express events.  To learn more please visit their website.

United Kingdom/Britain

Mid-Fork Railway:  The Mid-Fork is one of Britain's longest heritage railroads, operating 15 miles of former London & North Eastern Railway trackage around Dereham, Norfolk.  For the first time in 2017 they will host official The Polar Express events.  To learn more please visit their website.

Seaton Tramway:  The Seaton Tramway, which operates narrow gauge heritage trams between Seaton, Colyford and Colyton in East Devon's Axe Valley, will play host to official The Polar Express trips on these dates:  December 1-3, December 8-10, and December 15-24.  To learn more please visit their website at the link provided.

Telford Steam Railway:  The Telford Steam Railway (TSR) is a tourist railroad based in Horsehay, Telford in Shropshire, England.  It was created in 1976 and operates part of the historic Wellington & Severn Junction Railway.  They will host official The Polar Express events through much of December.  To learn more please visit their website.



The movie version of The Polar Express is a bit different, and a much longer tale, than the original but for the most part it sticks to the original story. To rail fans and historians the most notable aspect of the movie is Pere Marquette #1225, an actual 2-8-4 Berkshire-type steam locomotive, which is still operational and used as the basis of the locomotive in the movie. It, and its tender, was computer generated to the finest detail, including using the sounds of the locomotive while in operation, in the movie.   Also, please be aware that only certain organizations operate the officially licensed Polar Express train and they are denoted here by the image above. All other organizations listed here operate Christmas or Santa Claus trains not affiliated with the Polar Express  (but are worth the visit!).  

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