Approximately 32 years ago, two amazing events made Christmas a little more magical. I was born 12 days before Christmas. And, Chris van Allsburg’s book The Polar Express was published. Ever since, teachers, parents, and kids have been reading this fantastical story and admiring the beautiful paintings that accompany it.
Having been the child, the teacher, and now the parent experiencing this book, I can say confidently that there isn’t much better. Or, so I thought. Then, the movie was released. And, even though I was heading off to college, I was transported back to my days as a child, full of whimsy and eager to celebrate my favorite holiday. That good ol’ millennial nostalgia really gets me around Christmas!
All of this is to say that I’m not sure who was more excited to head out to Baldwin City this week to ride the Polar Express. That’s right! The Polar Express! Right in our backyard at Midland Railway. My son may have been the one actually screaming “oh my goodness, it is so magical!” as we drove down High Street, covered in Christmas lights and lit up in the night, but I was definitely feeling it, too.
The train runs Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings now through December 30, with additional dates closer to the holiday. You need to hurry to get your tickets – they are going fast! You can find your golden ticket to ride here.
To help you plan your trip, here are a few of my best tips for enjoying the full experience and bringing magic to the holidays for you and your kids!
Arrive early. The tickets will tell you to arrive no later than 30 minutes prior to your ride. I suggest you get there earlier, and here is why. Baldwin City is a great town with an adorable and festive downtown. We checked in, then drove back down High Street to enjoy coffee and donuts at the Town Galleria. They are staying open late for train riders and the folks who work there are very kind and accommodating. There are also a few dinner options if you didn’t eat before hand. We even got to enjoy Christmas carolers on our walk back to our car.
Wear your pajamas. Consider bringing a blanket. The train was warm, but temperatures outside and in the tent were a bit colder. My son and I were able to plop down on our blanket to watch the movie while we waited, as it w
as being shown in the waiting area. I then used the blanket to wrap the baby on the walk outside.
If your kids are little, plan accordingly. My children are 4 and 1. While my oldest was fine with the cookie and hot chocolate that he was served, but youngest was up a few hours past her bedtime and ready to
stuff her face. We went through puffs, yogurt drops, and a pouch of pears. The food kept her calm and happy throughout the ride, which took a little over an hour. Both babies slept the whole car ride home.
Make sure your phone is charged and consider bringing a camera.
So many photo ops!
Bring your Polar Express book and follow along. At one point during the ride, there is a reading of the book that inspired it all. If you bring your own copy, it’s easier to follow along and enjoy the beautiful illustrations.
Take everyone to the bathroom before you get on the train. There is so much to see and do that you don’t want to be carting your preschooler to the bathroom in the middle of a sing-a-long of Jingle Bells or the reading of The Polar Express. My son begged us not to make him go before we left, but we’re glad we did! We did not miss a thing!
Y’all, this was a truly magical experience. Watching my children laugh, dance, and sing with their favorite characters was a true gift. So, don’t wait! Get your ticket and take your ride on the Polar Express!