The Polar Express

Our holiday season started early this year with our epic ride on the Polar Express last Friday.  I normally don't like to do anything even remotely Christmas related before Thanksgiving, but I gladly made an exception to hop on the Texas State Rail Road's Polar Express and head to the North Pole to meet Santa Clause.  And after all, Thanksgiving was way late this year so the timing was close to when the Holiday Season normally kicks off (who are we kidding, I would've ridden the Polar Express in August).

We started our adventure the day before our trip to the North Pole.  My mom loves The Polar Express at least as much as I do, if not more, so since we were given 4 tickets, I couldn't not invite her along.  We live in Houston, and Mom lives in Shreveport, so we drove the almost 5 hours to her the night before our train ride. The next afternoon, we left Shreveport for the 2.5 hour drive to Palestine (Palestine is also about that far from Houston, Dallas, and Austin).  All that driving was definitely worth it, because the Polar Express was a-maz-ing!                                                                                                                                                     We arrived in Palestine at dusk which made things feel truly magical.  The weather was (finally!) cold and grey (my absolute favorite).  The sky was getting darker and the Christmas lights were just starting to really pop.  Lots of other people were arriving, too, and the parking lot was full of people in pajamas and overcoats with scarves and blankets.  And I was so excited!!!  I felt like a little kid; all smiles and excitement and giggles.  I could barely contain myself.

I did not take this photo, it's from the Texas State Rail Road Facebook Page
my picture of the depot was terrible
The depot was so welcoming and festive!  I loved the architecture and all the holiday decorations.  The ladies at the ticket window were super helpful, too.  There had been a little mix up with our tickets and they were able to get everything sorted out without any problems.  Dennis also decided to pay extra to upgrade our tickets (I was comped 4 Standard Class tickets), and they graciously let us upgrade to Lone Star Class.  He was planning on surprising me with tickets until this opportunity came up, and he really wanted us to have the collectible hot chocolate mug that comes with the Lone Star Class.

We had a little time to kill before boarding, so we had some burgers and fries from the concession stand.  Jack really likes fries.  By this time, the depot was filling up with excited families and it was almost time to go!  All the kids were in their pajamas, but I was really happy to see so many parents in jammies, too.  Of course Dennis and I wore pj's and so did Pigger and Butt-Naked.

Next thing we knew, it was time to go!  We found our train car where we were greeted by the dancing chefs who were so happy and friendly.  They seated us and we settled in for the trip.  Cookies were waiting for us on the tables, and soon the hot chocolate was making its rounds.  We were on our way to the North Pole!  I was excited, Dennis was excited, Jack was excited, Mom was excited!  As soon as the train left the station, the chefs started singing and dancing while serving the hot chocolate (let me tell you, this takes some skill to sing, dance, and still serve hot chocolate while on a moving train).  My mom kept clapping her hands saying, "I want this job.  I want this job.  I want this job."  Jack quickly made friends with all the chefs, and the little girls sitting behind us.  There was also a train conductor and his wife sitting across from us.

As soon as Dennis was served his hot chocolate, Jack immediately claimed it as his own and drank almost half of it, little bit by little bit, by dipping a straw into it then out of it and slurping the hot chocolate out/off of the straw.  It was hilarious.  It was his first hot chocolate and he loved it!!!  I will admit, it was some of the best hot chocolate I've ever had.  It was rich and creamy, and somehow the absolute perfect temperature.  The collectible mugs were definitely worth the upgrade, too.

I did not take this picture.  The conductor sitting across from us did.
Jack was loving the hot chocolate!

After singing a few songs from the Polar Express movie, the book was read (by Liam Neeson).  Everyone was so full of excitement and energy that it was a little hard to hear the story, but I think we were all pretty familiar with it.  When the story was over, we sang some Christmas carols and danced.  Then, all of a sudden, we were at the North Pole!!!!  Jack was glued to the window looking at the everything (I didn't get any pictures of the North Pole that weren't blurry, boo, but I can tell you it's a very festive place!)  All the kids were so excited!  People were cheering and clapping!  It was the best time!!!!

the conductor took this one, too

Santa Claus boarded the train and we headed back to the Palestine Depot.  More Christmas carols were sung as we waited for Santa to make his way to our car to pass out silver bells.  The excitement was palpable.  Then, the train car erupted in cheers and Santa Claus was on our car!  Jack was clapping and bouncing even though he really has no clue who Santa is, but that didn't matter.  He even let Santa hold him, which gives me hope when we go to the mall for pics, soon.

Again, taken by the conductor

We all got silver bells from Santa's sleigh to take home with us.  Jack was most excited by the bells, waving them around and clinking them together.  It might have had something to do with a sugar rush, because he was double fisting cookies, along with all that hot chocolate, but it was adorable nonetheless.

We sang some more, we danced some more, and before we knew it, we were back at the Palestine Depot.  We had such a magical time on our Polar Express trip.  Everything was perfect!  We are definitely true Believers and can't wait for next year!  Are you a Believer?  So what are you waiting for?  I cannot recommend The Polar Express enough.  Everything was perfection!  Start a new family tradition.  You can get your tickets here, or by calling 877-726-7245.

November 15-17, 22-24, 29-30
December 1, 4-8, 11-23, 26-29
3:45 pm, 5:15 pm, 6:45 pm, and 8:10 pm

Park Road 70, Palestine, TX

I received tickets in exchange for writing a review of our trip.  All opinions are my own!

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