A favorite area holiday tradition for kids of all ages is the Polar Express Train excursion at the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad and its back starting Friday, Nov. 8 and will be running through Dec. 31.

More than 80,000 passengers rode last year. The 1.25-hour round-trip excursion departs the Bryson City depot for a journey over the river and through the woods to the North Pole. Set to the sounds of the motion picture soundtrack, riders enjoy warm cocoa and cookies while reliving the magical story.

Children’s faces show the magic of the season when the train arrives at the “North Pole” to find Santa Claus waiting. Santa boards The Polar Express, greeting each child and presenting each with a special gift as in the story, their own silver sleigh bell. Bring your camera! Sing Christmas carols as you return back to the Depot.

The Polar Express is a popular book by Chris Van Allsburg about a magical train ride on Christmas Eve, taking a young boy to the North Pole to receive a special gift from Santa Claus. It has become a contemporary holiday classic, with over 6 million copies sold worldwide. In 2004, the Academy Award-winning team of Tom Hanks and director Robert Zemeckis created a wonderful animated movie version.

Here’s a tentative list of trip departure times — subject to change:

  • Nov. 9-10 and Nov. 15-30 at 5 p.m. 6:35 p.m. and 8:15 p.m.
  • Dec 1-23: Mon-Fri 5, 6:35, 8:15 p.m. Saturday 11 a.m., 1, 5, 6:35, 8:15 p.m. Sunday 3, 5, 6:35, 8:15 p.m.
  • Dec 24 Christmas Eve: 3, 5, 6:35 p.m.
  • Dec 26-30: 5, 6:35, 8:15 p.m.
  • Dec 31: STEAM 5 & 6:35 p.m.

2019 Tickets

Coach class ticket prices begin at $42 for adults and $28 for children ages 2-12. Children under two years old ride complimentary in coach.

  • Crown Class ticket prices start at $52 for adults, $38 for children 2-12 and $10 for 23 months and under.
  • First Class starts at $65 for adults and $45 for children 2-12. Children 23 months and under are $16.

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