All Aboard the Polar Express

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Would you believe you can reach the North Pole from Miami in less than hour? You can, if you believe, and get aboard the Polar Express.

For the fourth year, Brightline — Florida’s private, inter-city rail service — and Rail Events Productions have teamed to bring the beloved Christmas classic, The Polar Express, to life in the form of a one-hour, interactive experience that appeals to both kids and adults alike.

Presented by Experience Kissimmee!, it will be making its magical journey through December 29, with tickets available at Ticket prices range from $45 to $75, depending on the ticket type, date, and time of the ride.

The Polar Express has become one of our family’s holiday traditions, and Cate, our granddaughter, was excited to take her seat as we began our trip toward the North Pole. We were among a crowd of people waiting to board at Brightline’s MiamiCentral terminal, many families dressed in their best Christmas PJs.

Cate hugs a snowman as we prepare the board the train

Your journey begins at Brightline’s MiamiCentral Station, where there are backdrops for family photos and kiosks selling Polar Express-related merchandise. Cate couldn’t resist hugging a snowman.

Cate and Pam get ready to board the train

When the “All Board” signal sounds, we follow lantern-swinging attendants up the stairs to the tracks, where we locate our car, designated “Arctic Circle.” The car attendant is happy to pose for a photo with Pam and Cate.

Each car on the train has been festively decorated, with lighting that is as much part of the show as the actors who sing and dance through the familiar “Polar Express” story.

Everyone gets a Golden Ticket

Before we get started, we’re told there’s a herd of caribou blocking the tracks. It didn’t take much encouragement for the kids (and adults) onboard to urge them to get off. The most important thing is the Golden Ticket we were issued, which we waved overhead while the attendants punched a rain of golden confetti on our heads.

One of the highlights is the dancing chefs serving up “Hot-Hot-Hot Chocolate” and Walker’s Shortbread.

A central part of the experience is reading along with the classic children’s book, The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg. Children help by turning the pages.

Reading “The Polar Express” aloud.

Later in the ride, guests are treated to a display of the Northern Lights as the train approaches the North Pole.

Of course, the lesson of the Polar Express is how much you believe, illustrated by a child and a bell. That’s the moment everyone has been waiting for — when Santa himself makes an appearance.

You can hear the bell ring if you believe.

Santa makes his through the car, giving each of us our own bell.

Cate gets a bell from Santa.
Santa bids us goodbye.

It’s been a fun and heart-warming ride. And yes, we believe!

From left: Pam Barker, Brittany Barker (Cate’s mother), Cate and Gerry


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