Grab your pajamas and get ready for a magical experience as you board The Polar Express and celebrate the holidays with the Grand Canyon Railway in Williams.
For nearly 90 minutes, you’ll be whisked away by train on an adventure of a lifetime to the North Pole. Grand Canyon Railway has been bringing this can’t-miss experience to children and adults for nearly 20 years. The Polar Express began offering rides in the beginning of November and will run through Jan. 4, 2020.
Grand Canyon Railway general manager Bob Baker says while aboard The Polar Express, you will be greeted as you take your seats then entertained as chefs dance up and down the aisles to Hot Chocolate, a signature song from The Polar Express movie while serving hot chocolate, and freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies. Afterward, children can get immersed into a reading of The Polar Express book by Chris Van Allsburg and have the surprise of a lifetime when Santa jumps on board, handing out bells with a warm smile and Christmas songs are sung aplenty until the adventure ends.
To put on the holiday experience, Grand Canyon Railway hires an additional 160-180 staff members to run the Polar Express that include chefs, food and beverage staff along with conductors that punch golden tickets and character actors from the movie that bring the story to life. They also add new activities that make the experience more magical.
“Each year we add different things: we have a naughty and nice meter, so it’ll tell you if you’ve been naughty or nice when you squeeze the handle,” Baker says. “We also have a Believe meter, where you shout into a megaphone and it will scale up and down, so either you’re full of Christmas cheer or ‘Bah humbug.’ We also have Christmas light show to music at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel that has several hundred thousand lights in it.”
After the train ride is over, you can stop by their gift shop which is abundant with Polar Express-themed merchandise, and see Williams which is decorated in Christmas lights and has its own Christmas tree which stays up through the holiday season.
“Obviously we want people to stay on Grand Canyon Railway,” Baker says. “But we have this wonderful, magical little Northern Arizona town called Williams.” Additional holiday events in Williams include Wild Wonderland at Bearizona and Christmas Cookie Corral presented by Williams Alliance for the Arts that keep the Christmas spirit alive through the New Year.
Grand Canyon Railway also offers the Ultimate Polar Express Experience, where you board your own private charter train to the North Pole. Baker says it’s like a living room on wheels and the ride from Williams features the Conductor personally reading the story to all the children, and a private chef will lead Christmas carols and share cookies and hot cocoa. Santa will board the train, present each child with the signature Polar Express bell and spend time together with children opening presents, which makes for an unforgettable experience.
Limited train rides for 2019 are available, visit TheTrain.com for more information and to book your magical adventure.