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Hidden Gem – All Aboard the North Pole Express!

North Pole Express

North Pole Express

Florida Railroad Museum
12210 83rd Street E.
Parrish, FL 34219
2018 Dates: November 29 & 30, December 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17
Ticket Prices: Starting at $24.50 for adult Coach Class and $20.50 for children’s Coach Class on select dates. Ticket prices go up depending on dates and classes of service. Children under 1 are FREE.
Time spent at the attraction: 3 hours
Level of child satisfaction: A+

**TICKET SALES FOR 2018 START AT 10:00AM ON WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 5TH**

North Pole Express

The Main Attraction:

The North Pole Express is the Florida Railroad Museum’s signature Christmas event, and one your family won’t want to miss! The sight of the trains all decked out in Christmas lights and the conductors in their black uniforms and hats makes you feel like you’re stepping inside the real Polar Express. The children are filled with anticipation and excitement and they can hardly wait to have their visit with Santa when they arrive at the North Pole.

North Pole Express

The 20-minute train ride passes quickly as carolers dressed up in festive attire walk through the cars, encouraging passengers to join along as they sing your favorite Christmas tunes. They may even let your child hold and shake one of their jingle bells. If you pay for first class service, you’ll even receive refreshments on the ride up. Many children do wear their Christmas pajamas, like the children do in the book and the movie, while others sport reindeer ears, Christmas light-up necklaces or other holiday outfits.

North Pole Express

Upon arrival to the town of Willow, you’ll see that it has been completely transformed into the North Pole. Christmas lights and inflatables decorate every inch of the space. And staffers are decked out in red and green with Santa hats atop their heads.

North Pole Express

The most anticipated attraction at the North Pole is meeting Santa, of course. While waiting in line, you’ll meet Mrs. Claus who hands out candy and hugs for the children. Then, each child gets individual, private time with Santa Claus. Santa talks leisurely with each child, asking them a few questions about how old they are, what their favorite colors or sports are, if they’ve been good and finally, what they’d like for Christmas. It’s such a special way to experience the magic of the season.

North Pole Express

Other Activities:

North Pole Express

Santa’s To Do List: Each child receives one of these checklists after stepping off the train. It’s a scavenger hunt of sorts. Once a child visits an activity, they receive a stamp from the staff there. When their sheet is full of stamps, they must find the Candy Cane Elf (wearing a red and white striped hat) to exchange it for a surprise. {Spoiler alert: it’s a candy cane!}

North Pole Express

Tinsel Town Trains: A miniature train display in the back of the dining area features a winter holiday scene. Children can look, but they can’t touch.

Storybook Forest: In the very back of the North Pole field, a staffer reads Christmas stories to wide-eyed children seated on a blanket.

North Pole Express

Rudolph’s Reindeer Food: Right next to Storybook Forest, there’s a gazebo where kids can make their own reindeer food (a mixture of oats and glitter) to sprinkle on their driveway the night before Christmas and take home in a ziplock bag.

Mistletoe Trading Company: Want to buy a toy train set for your kiddos or a package of s’mores fixings? Head over to the Mistletoe Trading Company. It’s basically the North Pole gift shop.

North Pole Express

Jingle Bell Blocks: Under a tent are multiple toy train tables and other stations with Lincoln logs or squishy blocks for babies and toddlers to build and play with.

Mrs. Claus’s Cocoa and Cookies: Don’t forget to grab your complimentary hot cocoa (although it’s more like lukewarm so as not to burn the kiddos) and cookies from this vending station!

North Pole Express

Museum Display in Depot: At the train depot, there’s one room that contains some old railroad memorabilia, photos and signage.

Campfires: There are plenty of little campfire stations with seating, scattered in the middle of the North Pole. Purchase a s’mores kit from the Mistletoe Trading Company, pick a fire and use the metal sticks to roast your marshmallows and enjoy this yummy treat.

Know Before You Go:

North Pole Express

  • TICKETS SELL OUT FAST! I know it’s crazy to think about Christmas in September, but if you want tickets to the North Pole, you absolutely have to. Ticket sales start at 10:00am. Last year, I logged on at 10:05am and all of the Saturday tickets for the cheaper train cars had already sold out. This is because Museum Members can purchase tickets a week in advance. Last year, the most popular dates were sold out within hours! 
  • Tickets are NON-REFUNDABLE – While they won’t refund your ticket, they will exchange tickets with 48 hrs notice to another date and time at no extra charge. However, exchanges are subject to inventory availability. So, if you know you can no longer make the date you purchased, call the Parrish Ticket Office immediately. Otherwise, selling them to another family on Facebook will be your best bet.
  • Arrive Early – Plan to arrive at the train station at least 30-45 minutes before departure. This gives you time for unexpected traffic, parking, ticket pick-up, taking photos and boarding. The train departs on time and will not be held for late-arriving guests. Boarding begins 30 minutes before departure and if you’re in Coach Class, seating is first come, first served.
  • Restrooms – There are restrooms at the Parrish Train Station, onboard the train and at the North Pole. North Pole Express
  • They do sell food at the North Pole, but your options are limited: Their menu includes hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken fingers, steak sandwiches and Italian sausage sandwiches. You can get all meals with or without fries. Drinks, including soda and water, will cost you $2.00 each, while juice boxes are $1.00. We brought our own water bottles, so we were able to save a bit of money there. The s’mores kits also cost extra.
  • You can bring backpacks or diaper bags on the trip: If you’ve got little ones, rest assured that you can bring a bag filled with snacks, diapers, wipes, bottles and any other essentials you need with you. But they ask that the bag fit on your lap, as not all cars have sufficient overhead or underseat storage.

North Pole Express

  • It’s not necessary to purchase tickets in an air-conditioned car: We opted for an open-air car and although it can still be rather warm in December, once the train starts rolling, there’s a nice breeze that keeps you cool. But do check the weather and if rain is in the forecast, you’ll want to wear rain jackets as the open-air cars are directly exposed to weather.
  • Don’t bring a stroller: Due to limited space, strollers are not permitted on the train. If you have a small baby or pre-walker, you’ll want to babywear them instead.
  • Don’t wait in line for Santa first: Most people get off the train and immediately head to the line to see Santa, afraid that if they don’t do that first, they won’t see the big guy. But this meant most of them spent the first 30 minutes or so in line. We got food first for two reasons. One, so we wouldn’t have a cranky, hungry toddler, and two, so we could get some real food in him before he filled up on candies and cookies at the other attractions. Santa was the last thing we did and by the time we got to the line, there were only a few other children in front of us. Never fear, the train will not depart until all children have seen Santa Claus!

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