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The Polar Express Train Ride

THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride 2022 FAQ

When do THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride tickets go on sale?

Tickets go on sale:

  • June 7, 2022 at 9:00 a.m. EST for Lifetime, Family Platinum, and Family Premium level members 
  • June 8, 2022 at 9:00 a.m. EST for all N.C. Transportation Museum members
  • June 9, 2022 at 9:00 a.m. EST for everyone

Tickets can be purchased online through this website, or by calling (704) 469-5231. The call center will not be active until June 7. Due to extremely high call volume for THE POLAR EXPRESS ™ Train Ride events, we strongly encourage placing orders online.

To purchase tickets using the member presale, your membership must be active by 5:00PM Eastern Time on May 31, 2022. To join our membership online, click here: www.nctransportationmuseum.org/membership. Those joining or renewing after May 31 cannot be guaranteed access to the member presale.

 

Where is the North Carolina Transportation Museum?

The museum is located in Spencer, North Carolina off Interstate 85 (Exit 79) between Charlotte and Greensboro. 

The physical address is 411 S. Salisbury Avenue, Spencer, NC 28159.  

GPS Address: 1 Samuel Spencer Driver, Spencer, NC.

Where will I be seated?

All seating is assigned.  You will choose your seating on the train at the time of ticket purchase.  Please refer to the seating charts as to which way the seats face and keep this in mind, especially when buying for three or more people. 

The train car you selected will be listed on your tickets. You will use your printed confirmation as your ticket when you arrive on site or show the confirmation on your cell phone to our stewards. When you arrive at the Barber Junction Visitor Center, there will be queue lines set-up with the train car names. 

Are there different classes of service?

Yes, there are different classes of service. Please note, whatever class you are in, the show is the same.  The difference between classes are the amenities and seating options.  

Standard: Passengers receive hot cocoa (served in a quality paper cup), a cookie, a silver sleigh bell, and a golden ticket.

Deluxe: Passengers receive hot cocoa served in a keepsake tumbler, a treat bag, a cookie, a silver sleigh bell, and a golden ticket.

First Class: Tables available in 2-top, 4-top, and very limited 6-top (6-top tables have sold out, but you can check Train A’s “Holly” and “Comet” cars for 4-top and 2-top tables near each other as available.) Passengers receive hot cocoa served in a keepsake ceramic mug, a treat bag, a cookie, a silver sleigh bell, and a golden ticket.

Parlor: 4-top tables. Passengers receive hot cocoa served in a keepsake ceramic mug, a treat bag, a cookie, a silver sleigh bell, a golden ticket, and a hard-bound copy of Chris Van Allsburg’s The Polar Express book signed by Santa Claus (one per table).

How long is THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride event?

THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride event, including two stage performances and the train ride, will last approximately 70 minutes and will take place entirely on the grounds of the N.C. Transportation Museum.

Do I have to buy a ticket for a child sitting in my lap?

One lap child, under the age of 2, per adult is allowed. They may ride for free provided they are not occupying a seat. Children ages 2 and up are counted as paying passengers and therefore a seat must be purchased for them. This includes Standard Coach, Deluxe Coach, First Class table seating, and Parlor Class table seating. A small child age 2 and up may be able to ride in a lap but a seat must be purchased for that child. The comfort and safety of all passengers, including other parties around you, may determine whether we allow a child age 2 or up to ride in a lap.

How do I purchase tickets (once they go on sale starting June 7 for members)?

Tickets can be purchased online at this link. If you need assistance with your purchase, please call (704) 469-5231. NC state sales tax and convenience fees are required for all tickets and will be added in the final step of your ticket purchase (but before you are charged). All ticket purchasers must agree to the terms and conditions of purchase, including COVID-19 protocols and the “no refunds or exchanges” policy, before their payment method is billed. Ticket purchase links and call center representatives will not be available until June 7, but general information is available on our website.

To purchase tickets using the member presale, your membership must be active by 5:00PM Eastern Time on May 31, 2022. To join our membership online, click here: www.nctransportationmuseum.org/membership. Those joining or renewing after May 31 cannot be guaranteed access to the member presale.

What can I expect?

THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride offers the unique experience of live theater and train ride all in one.  Our performances begin with the train’s arrival in the station at the Barber Junction Visitor Center.  After watching a short live production taken from Chris Van Allsburg’s book, The Polar Express, all guests are invited aboard the train.  During THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride, passengers are served hot cocoa and a cookie, delight in lively songs and dance, and enjoy a reading of the holiday classic, The Polar Express.  Upon arrival at the North Pole, passengers deboard to watch Santa present the first gift of Christmas.  After re-boarding the train at the North Pole, each passenger on the train receives a silver sleigh bell before exiting at Candy Cane Lane.  The entire journey takes place on the 60-acre grounds of the N.C. Transportation Museum and lasts approximately 70 minutes.

How many people can sit at a table, and can I add anyone if our party is larger?

Seating at tables in First Class and Parlor Class is limited to the number of seats shown at the table. Two-top tables (First Class Only) are limited to two passengers ages 2 and up. Four-top tables (First Class and Parlor Class) are limited to four passengers ages 2 and up. Six-top tables (First Class, only in the Comet car and very limited) are limited to six passengers ages 2 and up. Six-top First Class tables have sold out (check for available four-top and two-top tables near each other on Train A’s Comet or Holly cars.) One lap child, under the age of 2, per adult is allowed at each of these tables and may ride for free provided they are not occupying a seat. A child age 2 and up must be included in the seat count when ordering tickets. All seats at a table must be purchased, whether they are occupied or not. Additional seats cannot be added to tables and tables cannot be moved. Parties larger than the allowed number of seated passengers will need to purchase additional tables to accommodate other members of the party. The “Holly” and “Comet” cars on Train A have the most number of four-top and two-top table combinations, which are often used to accommodate parties of five. Tables across the aisle from each other or next to each other sell rapidly and availability is limited. We encourage purchasing as early as possible to ensure getting the tables that you need.

When are THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Rides times?

THE POLAR EXPRESS ™ Train Ride runs on selected late afternoons and evenings from Friday, November 11 through Friday, December 23. Please check the N.C. Transportation Museum website for detailed information on performance times and different classes of service by using this link.

Train A has the following classes of service: 

  • Parlor (most exclusive class) 
  • First Class: Holly, Clarice and Comet 
  • Deluxe: Donner and Blitzen
  • Standard: Jingle 

Train B has the following classes of service: 

  • First Class: Cupid
  • Deluxe: Dasher and Rudolph 
  • Standard: Vixen, Prancer, Dancer and Peppermint

 

 

Guests are encouraged to arrive 45-minutes prior to the performance, allowing ample time for parking and to locate their respective boarding line. Guests may also arrive early for pictures with Santa in Candy Cane Lane near the Gift Station.

Does my ticket include museum admission?

Since this event is offered after the museum’s regular operating hours, museum admission is not included in THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride ticket purchase.

You are welcome to visit the museum earlier in the day and tour the exhibits with the additional purchase of regular admission tickets. You may purchase tickets online or the day of your visit at the Barber Junction Visitor Center. Members may visit the museum free of charge, but still need to check in at the Barber Junction Visitor Center to receive their wristband.

Please note that the museum has shortened hours on days when THE POLAR EXPRESS Train Ride is offered Tuesday-Sunday.

Museum Hours on THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride days: Tuesdays-Saturdays 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. Sundays 12:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. Closed on Mondays.

The regular day-time museum train will not be operating between November 7 and December 25.

The museum will close at 2PM and all guests will be asked to leave so we are able to prepare for the event. Gates will reopen at 3PM for THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride event only, and museum exhibit buildings will be closed. When visiting with small children during the day, we encourage you to avoid the Bob Julian Roundhouse area because a key scene of THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride performance takes place there… we want all of those who Believe to be able to experience the magic during the event.

Highlights of the museum’s exhibits include:

  • Largest operational Roundhouse in the country, featuring an assortment of authentic locomotives and railcars
  • Aviation exhibits, including a life-size replica of the Wright Brothers Flyer
  • Bumper to Bumper exhibit, chronicling automotive history from horseless carriages through the 20th century.
Do groups receive a discounted rate?

Groups purchasing 15 or more tickets, in one transaction, will receive a $3/ticket discount on Standard or Deluxe tickets. Groups must be booked by phone to receive the group rate. Group rates are not available online.

For group reservations, please call (704) 469-5231.

How do I receive my tickets after purchasing?

Our system offers “Print at Home” or “Mobile Ticket” options, which allow you to either print your tickets from your home printer or have them sent to your phone.  You will use your printed confirmation as your ticket when you arrive on site or show the confirmation on your cell phone to our stewards.

Do you sell official Polar Express merchandise?

THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride features a variety of themed merchandise available for purchase when you buy your tickets. Your purchases will be available for pick-up at the outdoor Gift Station tent before you board the train.  The easiest way to purchase merchandise online is during your ticket purchase process.  Should you forget or want to add merchandise later, you can do so by clicking here!


Child’s Conductor Hat 16.00 plus tax and fees)|
All aboard THE POLAR EXPRESS ™ Train Ride! This hat is a must-have for your little conductor!


The Polar Express Book ($20.00 plus tax and fees)
Reading 1986’s Caldecott Medal winner, The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg has become a beloved holiday tradition for generations of families. In 2004, this holiday classic came to life on screen when the animated feature film starring Tom Hanks was produced. This sturdy, oversized hardcover special edition features the inimitable artistry of Chris Van Allsburg, highlighted with a new jacket design and expanded interior layout. Includes an author’s note and downloadable audio read by Liam Neeson. This special pre-sale edition comes signed by Santa Claus himself!


Conductor’s Pocket Watch ($28.00 plus tax and fees)
Just like the conductor’s pocket watch from the movie! A railroad tradition has been captured in this time piece. This watch is an actual, working watch with a 12″ chain attached and diameter of 1.75 inches/4.5 cm. The watch cover features an embossed image of THE POLAR EXPRESS ™ train and says “The Polar Express.”


Polar Bear Plush ($22.00 plus tax and fees)

New for 2022! This large cuddly polar bear will delight all ages. Comes with maroon fleece scarf and hat. 12”height x 10” width x 9” depth.


 Jingle Bell Display Frame ($21.00 plus tax and fees)
THE POLAR EXPRESS™ jingle bell metal display frame holds a 4″ x 6″ photo and has a special hook to display your silver sleigh bell from Santa. A perfect keepsake from your experience on THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride. Great gift for the family. The frame measures 5.25″ x 8.25″ (bell not included).

Additional POLAR EXPRESS merchandise and an extensive selection of railroad and transportation related merchandise is available at the N.C. Transportation Museum’s Gift Station and through our online store. The Gift Station will be open throughout THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride event.

Is the train wheelchair accessible?

A limited number of seats are wheelchair accessible and our staff will assist those in wheelchairs with boarding.  Our wheelchair accessible rail cars feature a combination of traditional coach seats and spaces to accommodate a wheelchair, and a wheelchair lift.  This seating is ideal for wheelchair-bound passengers, as they can stay seated in their chair and not have to transfer to a seat. 

When making your ticket purchase please reserve Wheelchair Seating only for the members of your group who will actually be in a wheelchair and ADA and Companion Seating – Standard or Deluxe Coach for up to four members of the rest of your party.  We will ensure everyone is seated together. Limited wheelchair spaces are available only on Train A’s “Jingle” car (standard coach) and Train B’s “Dasher” car (deluxe coach.)  First Class, Parlor Class, and all other standard and deluxe coach cars are not wheelchair accessible and will require boarding and deboarding by climbing stairs and walking through rail cars to and from seating locations.

Please note that we cannot unload wheelchairs at the North Pole.  However, we will position the train in such a way to provide the best view of the North Pole performance as possible. 

IMPORTANT NOTES: Wheelchairs should not exceed 30” in width.  Some rail cars in use for this event are not wheelchair accessible due to the use of historic and antiquated rail passenger equipment, which is exempt from ADA regulations under US Code:  Title 42:  Section 12184.

TO RESERVE WHEELCHAIR AND COMPANION SEATS:  Please purchase by phone (not online) at (704) 469-5231.

How soon should I book tickets?

For best seating, we recommend you book your seats as soon as you are able to finalize your date. Certain departure times and cars sell-out quickly!

Are there refunds or exchanges?

All ticket sales for THE POLAR EXPRESS ™ Train Ride are non-refundable and non-exchangeable. All sales are final. Should you be unable to use your tickets for any reason, you are welcome to allow someone else to use them in your place.

The event you are purchasing is at the N.C. Transportation Museum, 1 Samuel Spencer Drive, Spencer, NC 28159. Tickets are valid ONLY for that location and cannot be transferred or refunded if you should not arrive at the correct location.

Can I bring my dog or pet?

Animals are not allowed in visitor centers, museums or historic structures, unless the animal qualifies as a service animal under federal or State law. Therefore, only service animals are allowed on board the train.

What food options will be available?

Visitors to the museum during this ticketed event will have several food and beverage options available to them. A number of food and beverage vendors will be on site for you to enjoy something before or after your train ride. We also encourage you to visit our local restaurants in Spencer and neighboring Downtown Salisbury. For more info on local dining options, please visit the Rowan County Tourism website.

There are no meal options on board the train. All passengers will receive hot chocolate and a cookie as part of the experience.

What are the appropriate ages for THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride?

THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride is a family event that welcomes visitors of all ages.

What if I go to the wrong railroad venue for my Polar Express ride?

See the answer to, “Are there refunds or exchanges?”

If you arrive with tickets for another venue, your tickets will NOT be honored at the N.C. Transportation Museum.

Please check the location carefully before purchasing. It is the sole responsibility of the purchaser to ensure the tickets are purchased for the correct location prior to completing the order. The event takes place at the N.C. Transportation Museum, 1 Samuel Spencer Drive, Spencer, NC 28159. The museum is located along Interstate 85 off Exit 79, approximately halfway between Charlotte and Greensboro.

Can I take photos during the event?

Yes, you can take photos. There are several opportunities for photo-ops during the train ride and at Candy Cane Lane.  Cameras are certainly welcome. 

Professional pictures with Santa will be available in Candy Cane Lane before and after THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Rides. Carolina Portrait Designs will provide photography and several different photo packages.  You are under no obligation to purchase. During these photos, one guest is allowed to take pictures using a single device (phone or camera). 

Photo Package options and pricing will be updated on our website when determined.

Is the train heated?

Yes, all passenger cars are heated.

Will food be available at the event?

Hot cocoa and a chocolate chip cookie are served onboard the train.  Additionally, food vendors may be available, schedule dependent, with kettle corn, snacks, hot dogs, hamburgers, and the like. Fire pits are set-up in multiple locations with s’more kits available for purchase. 

There are also a variety of restaurants in our local area, including Salisbury (3 miles south).  Check out the listing of area establishments by clicking here.

Can we wear pajamas and bring our own copies of The Polar Express?

Of course, that’s part of the fun!  We encourage the whole family to dress in their warmest pajamas and bring their book to read along. Be sure to dress warmly enough to walk comfortably to and from your car, to wait for boarding, and to watch the two outdoor live performances. We suggest you wear closed-toe shoes with non-slick bottoms.  Please make sure you (and your little ones) are dressed appropriately for the weather.

Are there restrooms and diaper changing facilities?

Restrooms with changing stations are available adjacent to the Barber Junction Visitor Center and on the train. The restrooms are limited on the train and there are no facilities at the North Pole, so we highly suggest you use the restrooms before boarding.  

Are strollers allowed on the train?

Neither strollers nor car seats are allowed on the train; however, there will be a designated area for stroller parking. We advise leaving car seats in your vehicle. Please make sure that you keep all valuables with you.  

Please note that the train will load at the Barber Junction Visitor Center, but the ride will end at Candy Cane Lane, behind the Gift Station at the Master Mechanic’s Office.  Returning to the parking lot will require walking or you may ride our trolley shuttle.

What if my child has food allergies?

We cannot ensure our special hot cocoa and cookies do not contain ingredients your family member may be allergic to.  Guests are welcome to bring their own snack options.  Please give this to your chef when you board the train. For a link to the cookie, hot cocoa, and whipped cream ingredients click here.  Please note that only First Class and Parlor will receive whipped cream on their hot cocoa.

How do I get to the N.C. Transportation Museum?

Your GPS will pick up 1 Samuel Spencer Drive Spencer, NC better than our physical address.

The N.C. Transportation Museum is located at 411 S. Salisbury Avenue, Spencer, NC, just a few minutes from I-85 in Spencer, N.C., within an hour’s drive from Charlotte, Greensboro, and Winston-Salem.  From I-85 take exit 79 and travel north along Andrews St. for 1.5 miles, to the second stoplight.  Turn left onto Hwy. 29 (Salisbury Avenue).  The museum entrance will be about 1/3 mile on your left.

From Statesville, take I-40 to I-77 South (Exit 152).  From I-77, take exit 49A (G. Bagnal Blvd.) which is Highway 70.  Travel Hwy. 70 for 23 miles to the West End Plaza in Salisbury.  Continue straight past West End Plaza, drive about 2.5 miles and you will pass Novant Health Rowan Medical Center on the right.  About 2 blocks beyond the Medical Center, turn right onto Clubhouse Drive (at the “To Main Street” sign).  Follow Clubhouse Drive, veering left at the curve. Clubhouse Drive becomes 11th Street. At the light, turn left onto Main Street and travel for 2 miles, passing through downtown Spencer.  You will pass downtown shops on the left, and the museum entrance will be on the right, just beyond 1st Street.  (Approximate drive time from Statesville: 45 minutes)

What happens if weather conditions are bad?

Winter wind, rain and other adverse conditions are possible.  Please check weather conditions prior to your visit and dress accordingly.  Portions of the event will take place outside, so if it is raining, please bring appropriate rain gear. THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride will operate as scheduled unless noted on our website: www.nctransportationmuseum.org

Is parking available on site?

The N.C. Transportation Museum has free on-site parking. Follow the entrance drive all the way up to the main lot near the Barber Junction Visitor Center. If the main lot is full, there is an overflow lot, which you will have passed on your way to the main lot. You may circle back and find a space there.  There is also parking in town, across the street from the museum.

Where can I stay overnight?

Information about lodging in Salisbury and Rowan County, as well as other area attractions, is available at www.visitsalisburync.com.  The Rowan County Convention & Visitor Bureau will also be happy to mail you a local Visitor Guide.  

Special packages are available providing free tickets or gift certificates for those who take advantage of lodging in Salisbury or Rowan County.  CLICK HERE for more information or call 800-332-2343.

What engine will be pulling THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride?

A diesel locomotive will pull each train.

Can I bring alcohol to the event?

The POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride is a family friendly event.  NO alcohol is sold or allowed on the train.  Intoxicated passengers or those found possessing alcohol will be asked to leave the event with no refund.

What if the event is not cancelled, but we want to cancel our tickets?

For refund requests initiated by the customer, there are no refunds or exchanges. As the ticket purchaser, you must agree to those terms and conditions before payment is processed. Once you have checked the boxes to agree to the terms and conditions and submit your order, there are no refunds or exchanges. If you are unable to use your tickets for any reason, you are welcome to allow someone else to use them.

What if the event is cancelled? Is ticket insurance available or will refunds be processed?

Ticket insurance is not offered as a part of the ticket purchasing process.  If the event is cancelled by the North Carolina Transportation Museum as a result of weather, health-related concerns including those related to COVID-19, equipment failure, or any other reason that would prevent it from operating, customers will be contacted regarding their options for refunds or rescheduling. 

Are COVID-19 Vaccinations or a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the date/time of the ticket required?

Precautions regarding COVID-19 change frequently, making it difficult to determine what protocols will be in place during THE POLAR EXPRESS ™ Train Ride season. The safety of our passengers and staff is of utmost importance. All ticket purchasers must agree to follow all COVID-19 protocols that are in effect at the N.C. Transportation Museum on the day of the event, regardless of whether those measures were in place at the time of purchase. As protocols change, the museum will update ticket purchasers through the email account shown on the ticket order.

Consistent with many indoor performances, we recommend coming prepared with a copy of a COVID-19 vaccination card or negative test result completed within 72 hours of the event.

All sales for THE POLAR EXPRESS ™ Train Ride are FINAL, as per the terms and conditions agreed to at the time of ticket purchase.

Are face masks required?

Face masks are currently optional in all areas of the N.C. Transportation Museum, including on trains. All ticket purchasers must agree to follow all COVID-19 protocols that are in effect at the N.C. Transportation Museum on the day of the event, regardless of whether those measures were in place at the time of purchase. As protocols change, the museum will update ticket purchasers through the email account shown on the ticket order. All sales for THE POLAR EXPRESS ™ Train Ride are FINAL, as per the terms and conditions agreed to at the time of ticket purchase.

Are there different classes of service?

Yes, there are different classes of service. Please note, whatever class you are in, the show is the same.
The difference between classes are the amenities and seating options.

Standard

Passengers receive hot cocoa (served in a quality paper cup), a cookie, a silver sleigh bell, and a golden ticket.  Seats are purchased individually as adult or child (age 2-12) seats.  One lap-child under age two is allowed to ride on the lap per paying adult without using a ticketed seat.

Deluxe

Passengers receive hot cocoa served in a keepsake tumbler, a treat bag, a cookie, a silver sleigh bell, and a golden ticket.  Seats are purchased individually as adult or child (age 2-12) seats.  One lap-child under age two is allowed to ride on the lap per paying adult without using a ticketed seat.

First Class

Passengers are seated at 2-top, 4-top, and very limited 6-top tables.  Passengers receive hot cocoa served in a keepsake ceramic mug, a treat bag, a cookie, a silver sleigh bell, and a golden ticket.

Note:  All seats at a table must be purchased regardless of whether they are used, and no additional people can be seated at a table.  One lap-child under age two is allowed to ride on the lap per paying adult without using a ticketed seat.  Your ticket order will show each First Class seat at $65 per ticket, plus tax and fees.  All First Class tickets (ages 2 and up) are the same price.

Parlor

Passengers are seated at 4-top tables. Passengers receive hot cocoa served in a keepsake ceramic mug, a treat bag, a cookie, a silver sleigh bell, a golden ticket, and a hard-bound copy of Chris Van Allsburg’s The Polar Express book signed by Santa Claus (one per table).

Note:  All seats at a table must be purchased regardless of whether they are used, and no additional people can be seated at a table.  One lap-child under age two is allowed to ride on the lap per paying adult without using a ticketed seat.  Your ticket order will show each Parlor Class seat at $90 per ticket, for a total of $360 per table, plus tax and fees.  All Parlor Class tickets (ages 2 and up) are the same price.

These are examples of the levels of seating, each car will vary in layout and decorations.