Come aboard the enchanting St. Louis Polar Express, where holiday magic comes alive! Get ready to embark on a magical journey filled with joy, wonder, and cheer, as you step onto this iconic train ride. This immersive experience is perfect for families and kids of all ages, providing a unique opportunity to create treasured memories that will last a lifetime.
As the train departs from the station, you’ll find yourself transported to a scene reminiscent of the beloved children’s book, “The Polar Express”, complete with festive decorations and an energetic, entertaining staff. Snuggle up in your cozy pajamas and enjoy the sights passing by your window as you sip your hot chocolate.
This magical journey wouldn’t be complete without a visit from Santa Claus himself! Be prepared to marvel at his jolly presence and even receive a special gift.
Don’t miss out on this magical holiday adventure on the St. Louis Polar Express. Book your tickets and make this holiday season one to remember!
Schedule and ticket information
The St. Louis Polar Express operates during the holiday season, typically starting in late November and running through December. The train departs from the St. Louis Union Station, a beautifully restored historic train station that adds to the overall ambiance of the experience.
The tickets run from $41 – $100+ per person, depending on what you choose. The most budget-friendly option is to choose coach seating on a weekday. However, if you want to go all-out, you can choose first-class seating or one of the premium seating options, as well as package options.
Coach seating is airplane-style seating, with seats in rows of 4, 2 on each side of an aisle. This is what our family chose (pictured above.) Each seat has a pull-down tray. First-class seating has pods of 4 seats facing each other with a table in between.
The “premium upper dome car” seating is a mix of captain’s chairs and booths on the 2nd level. There are glass windows in the dome area, with 360-degree views. “Premium dome car” seating is on the first level and has lounge-style seating.
First class and both premium seating options come with a commemorative mug and digital photo download. The premium options also include a credit for the gift shop.
To book your tickets, visit the official website of the St. Louis Polar Express. The website will provide you with the latest schedule, ticket availability, and pricing information. I would highly suggest booking your tickets as early as possible to secure your preferred date and time, as well as to take advantage of any early bird discounts that may be available.
Visitors will park in the Union Station lot, which is right off 18th Street. The fee to park is $5/car.
What to expect on the St. Louis Polar Express
It’s recommended that you arrive at least 45 minutes early, but I would suggest that you arrive at least an hour before your ticket time, to make sure you have time for all the activities before boarding the train.
When you arrive at Union Station and head toward the Polar Express, you will start out in a tent with lots of festive activities. When we visited, there was a Build-a-Bear kiosk, a station for writing and mailing letters to Santa, entertainment, and tons of souvenirs to purchase.
At your specified time, you will exit the tent and head to the train station to board the train with your golden ticket!
After you board the train and find your seat, each person is given a chocolate chip cookie and a hot chocolate. The staff dances around merrily as they serve the guests.
The conductor comes by and punches each guest’s golden ticket, just like they do in the movie!
After everyone is served, there’s a reading of the Polar Express children’s book. Make sure you look out your train windows for a view of the “North Pole” as the train passes by! Santa boards the train and greets all the children on board. His elves came by to pass out a little sleigh bell to each child.
When the train returns to the station, you will have another opportunity to browse through the gifts and souvenirs before heading back out into the Union Station outdoor area.
I would plan a little extra time here too, because the pond is decorated with festive light displays that are synchronized to music. It was really fun to watch!
Our family chose one of the hotel packages when we booked our tickets, which comes with a night at the Union Station Hotel along with the train tickets. When we arrived at our rooms, we were surprised with a Polar Express puzzle as a special gift!
We also did the breakfast with Santa in the Grand Hall, which really made the experience feel special! Our family was able to eat breakfast, visit with Santa and the elves, and watch the amazing 3D light show on the ceiling and walls of the Grand Hall.
It was definitely a little bit of a splurge, but made the whole experience that much more magical, and I would definitely recommend it!
The St. Louis Polar Express offers a truly awesome experience, filling you with the holiday spirit. From the moment you step aboard until the train returns to the station, you’ll be captivated by the enchantment and wonder that surrounds you.
Tips for a memorable experience on the St. Louis Polar Express
To ensure you have the best possible experience on the St. Louis Polar Express, here are some tips to keep in mind:
1. Book Your Tickets in Advance: The Polar Express train ride is a highly popular attraction during the holiday season, so it’s essential to book your tickets in advance. This will help you secure your preferred date and time, ensuring you don’t miss out on this magical journey.
2. Dress in Your Holiday Pajamas: One of the unique aspects of the Polar Express is the opportunity to wear your favorite pajamas on the train ride. Dressing in cozy sleepwear adds to the immersive experience and allows you to fully embrace the spirit of the journey.
3. Arrive Early: To make the most of your experience, it’s advisable to arrive at Union Station a little early. This will give you ample time to find parking, check in, take photos, and do some activities before the train departs.
4. Ticket Booking Tip: Pay extra attention to the seats you are choosing at ticket purchase. The diagram will say “North Pole side”, meaning that is the side of the train where you will see the North Pole out the windows. Ideally, you want your kids to sit on that side!
5. Stay for the Grand Hall Light Show. The Grand Hall Lobby inside historic Union Station hosts a nightly 3D light show on the hour from 5pm – 10pm (except when the hall is booked for private events), which is free to watch.
Remember, the Polar Express is not just a train ride; it’s an unforgettable experience that will create lasting memories for you and your loved ones. Following these tips will help make the most of your experience.
Frequently Asked Questions about the St. Louis Polar Express
Is the St. Louis Polar Express suitable for all ages?
Absolutely! The Polar Express is designed to be an inclusive experience for guests of all ages. We went with our kids, my parents, and my sister’s family, who had 2 teenagers, and everyone enjoyed it!
How long is the Polar Express train ride in St. Louis?
The train ride itself is about 45 minutes long. That doesn’t include the activities beforehand. I would figure about 3 hours for this whole activity.
Can I bring my own food and drinks onboard?
While the St. Louis Polar Express provides hot chocolate and cookies, you’re welcome to bring your own snacks and beverages. Make sure you dispose of any trash responsibly.
Are there restroom facilities on the train?
Yes, there are restroom facilities onboard for your convenience, as well as restrooms around other areas in Union Station.
Where does the Polar Express train in St. Louis go?
The St. Louis Polar Express train departs from Union Station and goes to the “North Pole”, which is just north of the St. Louis Arch grounds.
Can I bring my pet to the St. Louis Polar Express?
Unfortunately, pets are not allowed on the St. Louis Polar Express, with the exception of service animals.
Is the St. Louis Polar Express wheelchair accessible?
Yes, the St. Louis Polar Express offers ADA seating on certain train cars.
What happens if it snows or there’s inclement weather on the day of my scheduled ride?
The Polar Express operates in various weather conditions. In the event of extreme weather or unforeseen circumstances that may affect the safety of the journey, the train operator will make a determination and notify passengers accordingly. In such cases, alternative arrangements or refunds may be provided.
The St. Louis Polar Express was such a fun, memorable holiday experience for our family! I honestly can’t wait to visit again soon!
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