Last Friday my husband and I took our three youngest kids (10, 7 and 3) on Colorado’s Santa Express (very Polar Express esque). My kids LOVED it! From the 10 year old down to the three year old, they were entranced.
First of all, it is a real, full-sized train that you ride to the North Pole. My kids have never been on a full sized train before (the train at the airport doesn’t count) and so the train ride alone was a pretty big deal. As soon as we pulled into the parking lot and my son saw the train all lit up with Christmas lights he immediately hugged me and said I was “the best!”. I am storing that memory up in preparation for teen years…
We boarded the train and climbed up to the Vista Dome which is on the very top. The Vista Dome has very comfortable velvet seats around tables which are surrounded by a dome of glass windows. I’m sure the view would be spectacular during the day, but the train left the station at 6pm and it was already night. It was still impressive, but because it’s night, I don’t know if the view is worth the premium for those seats.
We prepaid for dinner – $10.95 for adults and $6.95 for kids – and were able to enjoy being served while traveling to the North Pole. The food does not have a very formal presentation, think baskets with red and white checkered napkins, but it is delicious! The kids had chicken fingers and raved about them (and trust me – they KNOW chicken fingers!). I had a Chicken Pesto sandwich that was phenomenal. We were also able to order a bottle of wine to share ($30) and the whole atmosphere was happy and relaxing and definitely got us into the Christmas spirit.
**If you go on this trip, I highly recommend prepaying for tickets and meals – it will save you a ton of money.
Upon arriving at the North Pole (about 30minutes into the ride), we were able to step out onto an open air train car to get a really good view. The North Pole is a series of trees and houses and snowmen that are lit up with Christmas lights. It isn’t extremely realistic (wouldn’t fool the 10 year old), but it is cute and there was Santa (real life) waving and welcoming us as we arrived.
My 3 year old was riveted!
Santa got onto the train at the North Pole and then made his way through the train stopping and speaking to each child and giving them one on one attention. Prior to arriving, the staff handed out blank Christmas letters for each child to fill out in preparation of meeting St. Nick. He has a real beard, is very patient, and does a fabulous job of engaging the kids!
After Santa met with our kids, the waitstaff handed out hot chocolate to everyone and sugar cookies (really good ones!). Then some of the staff (elves) gathered the kids and read them The Night Before Christmas.
All in all, it was a fabulous night and one I am VERY glad that we decided to do. All of our kids were extremely happy and excited about the entire endeavor. I just KNOW that we made memories that they will share with their kids when they are grown. And to me, that’s what I value – making memories with my kids.
For those of you interested in taking this trip with your family, here is the official information:
Tickets sell out fast for Colorado’s most scenic trains to the North Pole — The Santa Express — a winter wonderland, decorated in holiday style, where children are encouraged to wear cozy pajamas and relax with family and friends while they sip homemade cocoa and listen to classic holiday stories read by Santa’s elves. Large plate-glass windows reveal the Rocky Mountain beauty of the Royal Gorge on the way to the North Pole, which is fittingly decorated like a true Christmas town, bedecked with holiday lights and decor for its most famous resident – Santa Claus. Once Santa boards the train at the North Pole, children anxiously await their turn to share their holiday wish list and receive their very special Santa Express Train bell – from Kris Kringle himself.
Tickets start at $19 for children and $29 for adults, children under two ride free. Classes of service include Coach, First-Class and Vista Dome, the latter two of which offer lunch and dinner menus.
November 18th – 27th – Every Friday, Saturday & Sunday at: 6:00 PM
December 2nd – 26th – Nightly at: 6:00 PM (except Dec. 25th)
December 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th – Special departure at: 12:30 PM
**Disclosure: We were provided 4 tickets to facilitate this review. No other compensation was provided. All opinions are 100% my own.