(Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images)

When our sons were little and enthralled with Thomas the Tank Engine, my wife and I took them to see and ride aboard the beloved children’s character at the North Carolina Transportation Museum. You would have thought Sam and Nick had won the Powerball. As the boys got a little older, The Polar Express replaced Thomas as the “it train,” and that’s the one kids everywhere want to ride during the holiday season.

Inspired by the 2004 film, a couple of Polar Express train rides are returning to North Carolina this month. WCNC-TV reports that the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, just outside of Salisbury, will be offering rides November 11, 12, 18-20, 25-27; and December 2-4, 8-11, and 13-23. The 70-minute experience comes with a golden ticket, hot chocolate, cookies, and a silver sleigh bell. First class tickets include a keepsake ceramic mug. Other souvenirs are also available. Tickets for passengers 2 and older range from $34 to $90. Visit the museum website for more info. Oh, and they’re hiring castmembers! Check out the video below.


About an hour west of Asheville, the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad is also offering an official Polar Express event. The journey through the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina lasts 75 minutes and departs from the Bryson City depot at 45 Mitchell Street in Bryson City, NC. Rides are offered most days in November starting on November 10th. The trains run every day in December except Christmas Day (12/25). Great Smoky Mountains Railroad offers many different options with prices ranging from $29 to $69 per person. Click here for the details. Here’s a peek: