Trains have a treasured link to Christmas in our holiday traditions. Whether steam engines gained our affections from transporting packages or conjuring nostalgic stories of family homecomings, or from chugging along under the Christmas tree, to many, trains are integral to Christmas.
The popular children’s book and film, Polar Express, further solidifies the connection between trains and the holidays, and now children and their loved ones can live the events of Chris Van Allsburg’s beloved tale. Beginning Friday, Nov. 14, and throughout December, believers can board the Polar Express as it departs from Connersville’s Grand Central Station and journeys through the countryside for a special visit to the “North Pole,” where Santa Claus lives.
The Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad offers another chance to see Santa via its North Pole Express. Children can whisper their Christmas wishes to the Jolly Old Elf, and receive a small gift from him. Passengers can also stop at the “Holiday Post Express” to color pictures or write letters to Santa. During the ride, a holiday cookie and a cup of hot chocolate will keep ticket holders warm while Santa’s talented Elves entertain everyone.
For fans of model railroads, EnterTRAINment Junction offers immersive fun, and it’s free to see the Christmas Train Layout on Mainstreet. Additionally, with the purchase of a “Do-it-all ticket,” visitors can see the World’s Largest Indoor Train Display, and get yet another chance to visit the North Pole. The Christmas Journey begins with a fifties-era street scene of department store display windows, leads to a wintry wonderland, and ends at Santa’s home. Reindeer fill the stables, elves make toys in their workshop, and Mrs. Claus bakes cookies in her kitchen. Take a moment to enjoy a snack with her and chat a bit, before going to see Santa Claus himself.
When it’s playtime, Imagination Junction at EnterTRAINment lets kids bounce, climb and crawl in the indoor and outdoor play area. If a model train is on the wish list, don’t miss more than 1,200 G-scale cars in their 25,000 square-foot layout. Walk along more than two miles of track through the earliest days of steam-engine trains to today’s modern locomotives. On the mezzanine level, parents and grandparents from the Cincinnati area can reminisce over the replica of Cincinnati’s Coney Island as it was in 1965, while the kids push buttons to launch trains up the hill of the Shooting Star, boats down the Lost River, and cars along the speedway.
7379 Squire Ct., West Chester
513-898-8000 • entertrainmentjunction.com
Christmas at EnterTrainment Junction is open Nov. 15 – Jan. 4. Open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Monday – Saturday
12 – 6 p.m. Sunday. Extended hours until 9 p.m. from Dec. 13 – 23 and Dec. 26 – 30; closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Santa goes on vacation after Christmas! Do-It-All ticket prices TBD.
NORTH POLE EXPRESS
Lebanon Mason & Monroe Railroad
127 S. Mechanic St., Lebanon
513-933-8022 • lebanonrr.com
North Pole Express departs Nov. 29 – 30; Dec. 6 – 7, 12 – 14, 19 – 22. Train rides every weekend, Nov. 29 – Dec. 23, please visit the website for a complete schedule. Boarding begins 10 minutes prior to departure time; please check website for updates. Tickets are $20.50 adults, $15.50 seniors 62 and older and ages 5 – 16, $8.50 ages 2 – 4, free ages 1 year and younger.
Whitewater Valley Railroad
Grand Central Station, Connorsville, IN
765-825-2054 • whitewatervalleyrr.org
The Polar Express Train Ride departs Friday – Sunday, Nov. 14 – Dec. 14 at 5 and 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 and 5 p.m. Sundays. Ticket prices start at $29.