Holidays at Union Station: All You Need to Know

One of the most iconic holiday destinations in Kansas City is Union Station. The beautiful, historical building is adorned with the magic of the season as families bustle about to the buzz of miniature trains, delighting everyone who enters the gold-laden doors. The lineup of lineup of attractions broadens every year, giving Kansas Citians a reason to visit more than once.

Holiday Reflections

Held in the Grand Plaza, Holiday Reflections is a feast for the eyes. This spectacular themed experience features floor to ceiling lights, a multitude of decorated trees, forest friends, floating mirrored ornaments and a bigger-than-ever Rudy’s Wonderland where kids can ride the historic Jones Store Train. It is also connected to the fan favorite model train display. New this year is the addition of a virtual reality magical sleigh ride adventure.

Customers must select date of visit, and advance ticket purchases are strongly encouraged to avoid a wait, or to be turned away. You may arrive up to 30 minutes before your hourly timed ticket. Expect to spend 45-60 minutes in total enjoying the decorations, taking pictures, and marveling at the sights. Viewing is available everyday, beginning at 10 a.m., but the best time to visit is during the evening hours to see the lights in all their glory.

Within the Holiday Reflections display, at one of the MANY photo opportunities!

Arvin Gottleib Planetarium

Sky Station LIVE – Stars of Faith is showing at the Arvin Gottleib Planetarium Nov. 18–Dec. 15. The show highlights winter constellations, planets and deep-space objects, and also the many ways in which faith connects with the night sky.

Laser Holiday Magic will be highlighted during the same dates. This show, however, coordinates favorite holiday tunes with gorgeous laser choreography.

Regnier Extreme Screen Theatre

At a cost of only $3.50 per ticket, a visit to the Regnier Extreme Screen Theatre should be on your KC holiday bucket list! “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” “Elf,” and “The Polar Express” movies are on the docket, running Nov. 18-Dec. 20.  Make this a relaxing last stop after your eventful visit to Union Station.

Haverty Family Yards

The Kansas City Southern Holiday Express returns once again to excite train-loving enthusiasts of all ages. A six-car holiday train stationed outside of Union Station features intricate displays both inside and out. Free to the public, but only open for one day, customers MUST reserve tickets in advance. Santa will not be stationed for photos this year, but will instead be roaming and visiting with guests waiting to walk through the train inside the gates. This event is primarily outside, dress little ones accordingly!

For the first time since 2018, Canadian Pacific Holiday Train returns for an outdoor concert Dec. 4. A train decked out in impressive lights will make its stop in KC, opening a rail car to reveal a live band performance!

City Stage Theatre

“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” is a humorous, family-friendly show based on the book of the same name. Taking place Nov. 26-Dec. 23, with matinee showings, this is the perfect outing for young children. Tickets are $10 for Union Station members, and $12 for nonmembers.

Dec. 9–11 only, a special performance of “The Nutcracker, All Jazzed Up” will also be shown.

Science City

Science City will be celebrating a “Merry Science Day” on Dec. 17, but the full month of December will include seasonal displays. A Noon Year’s Eve event will take place Dec. 31, complete with a massive balloon drop. Tickets, again, must be purchased in advance.

Tips for parents

  • Plan ahead by purchasing tickets online for any and all exhibits.
  • Arrive early if possible to allow ample time to park and walk to exhibit.
  • Take advantage of all the amazing photo opportunities! Warn kids ahead of time that pictures will be taken.
  • Parking is plentiful, but costs either $10, or per hour depending on where you park.
  • Strollers are welcome.
  • Food is not allowed within the Holiday Reflections display, but options for sweet treats, coffee, lunch and dinner all exist within Union Station.
  • If children are wanting to ride the mini train within Holiday Reflections, make sure to purchase the $5 ticket as well. Union Station members receive free train rides!
  • If viewing “The Polar Express” at the Extreme Screen Theatre, plan on everyone wearing pajamas for an extra special treat!
  • Head to Crown Center before or after for a little window shopping.

What a wonderful time of year. Happy Holidays!

Kristin is a Lee’s Summit suburb transplant, after living in the Brookside and Plaza areas for over eight years. Raising three young boys with her husband, Jake, has helped her to embrace the messy, wild side of life where love is expressed in bear hugs and body slams. Professionally, she can be found teaching classes as an adjunct professor in the areas of Business, Marketing and PR. She is able to provide her students with applicable, real-life knowledge as she draws from several years working in the corporate sector. “Free time” (ha!, what's that again?) is spent on an occasional date night to favorite local restaurants, reading blogs on everything from home design to politics, riding her sweet beach cruiser bike and thinking of ways to convince her husband to do yet another home improvement project.

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