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How to Ride the Real Polar Express


Finley’s birthday is at the end of November, and his favorite book is The Polar Express.  For his birthday this year we wanted to have a fun, family experience that captures the joy of childhood, and also conveniently ushers in the magic of the Christmas Season.

In Williams Arizona they have a train, an long, beautiful old fashioned train that does just that.  In fact, on this train, the servers wear white coats and tall white hats while singing and serving hot chocolate and cookies to jammie clad children and parents who are singing and riding to the ‘North Pole.’

And if you can hear the bell sound, it means that you still believe in Santa.



We stayed at the Grand Hotel, which was a great spot walking distance from the train adventure and fun Christmas activities all about, plus and an indoor pool.  I know it’s in Arizona, but pack WARM because it’s very chilly there.


The hotel has special mailboxes and letters where you can write to Santa.


The night before we walked around down town Williams which was fun and had a couple good spots to eat and sight see, but is a tiny, little town.


In the morning we ate at a diner, Pine Country Restaurant, with great service and the kids loved the food.

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Finley Celebrated being 6 with a cinnamon roll to share with everyone.

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Birthday Boy


After breakfast, we walked around the Polar Express store and had such a good time, the kids were getting more and more excited about riding the Polar Express that evening.

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Getting our tickets to ride

The Polar Express

Writing a letter to Santa

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(We also visited Bearizona which was close and awesome!)

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As the day ended, we put the kids in their Christmas jammies.  All kids wore jammies to ride the train.

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Dinner before the Train Ride

And we even got to meet Mrs. Claus while we waited.


But then it was time to get in line for the train!  Conductors walked around and said, “Well?  Are you coming!?”  to all the children.  My boys nodded silently.  You could feel the excited buzz in the air among everyone waiting to ride.

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When we got on the train, it was still light out, we picked the earliest time slot of this reason and it was fun to walk the Arizona wilderness out the train window as our train car sped along.

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The staff was upbeat and fun, and sang to us and passed out the hot cocoa, the kids were loving it!




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The Polar Express in Williams 


The sun set and we neared the ‘North Pole’ in record time, and Santa come on board with us once we arrive.  The kids couldn’t believe it!  He handed everyone a bell.

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The Polar Express


On the way home, the entire train car had song books and sang Christmas songs together with the staff.

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The Polar Express in Williams AZ


It was so much fun, a memory to last a lifetime.

Things to remember when booking for your family:

-book early, spots fill up quickly

-pack warm

-secretly buy a bell at the store for your child, and let them find it before they board

-find the Polar Express store sometime before you go, we happened upon it by chance and were so glad we did.

-we loved having the earliest time slot to enjoy the scenery outdoors, but anytime you book will be magical.


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