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As the build up to Christmas begins we love nothing more than to embrace the season and get excited with our little ones, so, when we were invited to ride the Polar Express at Weardale we were more than a little excited!
Pyjamas on, snacks packed, we loaded two littlies (5 and nearly 2years) plus my 16 year old into the car with cheers of “Santa Train” and DVD playing loudly, and set off on our Christmas adventure.
We arrived at Weardale around an hour before the departure (they ask you to arrive 45 minutes early to secure tickets and board the train,) and parked on the car park. This is essentially a field with plastic boarding but was ideal for the very wet day and we set off in our slippers and dressing gowns to find the station. On arrival, the ticket office wasn’t yet open and with only a few (clearly in the know) already in line, we figured we’d hit the toasty warm marquee as directed. This featured a sweet stall, café and souvenirs, all reasonably priced. My kids boxes for tea included hot dogs, chips, Freddo chocolate and a fruit shoot for £4, Souvenirs started at around £3 for a pen with more expensive items including picture frames mugs and of course, books. There were some young ladies singing carols and the conductor talked to children, letting them wear his hat and have pictures taken with the Christmas Tree. All very festive!
We thought we’d better go to try to collect the tickets and returned to the ticket office which now had a healthy queue and stood in the rain. Admittedly this could have been a bit quicker but the staff suggested leaving one member of the family whilst the others enjoyed the marquee which would definitely make sense. Having collected the tickets we joined another queue to get on the train! Once opened however, the gates revealed a gorgeous station decorated with white lights and a diesel train (the steam is not running currently but this didn’t spoil it for us at all.)
We climbed on board, greeted by conductors and chefs who were all lovely to the children and keen to help. Music from the movie played, tinsel and baubles shone and off we went, drinking hot chocolate (a bit on the thin side) and munching on cookies, yum! The cooks danced and sang and so did we, like most things the more you engage the more everyone enjoys it. A narrated story of the film followed, during which the cooks walked up and down showing the children a huge book. As the train trundled down the track Santa appeared, waving enthusiastically in the ‘North Pole’ where we stopped in order for him to board.
The conductor stamped the children’s tickets in the shape of their initial which was a lovely touch and then Santa himself arrived! He was, as you would expect from a man who spends his year getting ready for little ones, absolutely lovely, taking a little time to talk to each child, giving them a silver believers bell and high fiving all round. The sound of all the children’s bells jingling is magical and makes you feel like Christmas is really here.
Then off we popped back home with another cup of hot chocolate and the spirit of Christmas within smiling boys and girls young and old.
We travelled on one of the first departures of this year’s event last weekend and many key dates for this year are already sold out, however THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride is pleased to announce that tickets for 2016 are now on sale. Tickets start from £23 for adults. For more information or to book, please visitwww.UKPolarExpressRide.com or call 0800 0232 383.
NB: We were invited to travel on the Polar Express as their guests.