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You can catch the real Polar Express

I could not believe my luck when I discovered that Squamish B.C has a not-for-profit railway that offers a ride on THE Polar Express.

The Polar Express is ready to go

The Polar Express is ready to go. Picture: Helena McShane

Once I knew, I saw no other option than to book six Golden tickets and prepare the family to watch “The Polar Express” the night before our ride.

Tom Hanks did not disappoint and we were feeling ready.

You need a golden ticket to ride the Polar Express.

You need a golden ticket to ride the Polar Express. Picture: Helena McShane

My six-year-old asked me numerous times if we were going to the REAL North Pole. I was careful to say: “We are going on the real Polar Express but I don’t know if it goes to the real North Pole because I have never been on it”. This promised just enough magic and avoided the prospect of a letdown, in case she could suss out a fake North Pole (she could).

It may have been pouring with rain, but nothing could dampen the excitement as expectant families collected their golden tickets and made their way toward the old Squamish train station. 

It was one of those rooms where your kid wasn’t the loudest, which is always nice.

The conductor on the Polar Express. Picture: Helen McCabe

The conductor on the Polar Express. Picture: Helena McShane

The kids saw the “real” conductor who was indeed a Tom Hanks lookalike if not the actor himself (No? Ok, probably not), which was the perfect beginning to our ride.

As we piled into the train, waiters and staff greeted us with a warmth that, frankly, the movie lacks.

We got a good bit of the story, with the hobo being thrown off the train and some cheery “goodbyes” to him. Trays of hot chocolate were served along with the best chocolate chip cookies Squamish has to offer. We wore our pyjamas on the tour – just like the movie. There is something wonderful about wearing your pyjamas to an outing , it seems to relax people. Really, who is going to snarl at someone wearing their pyjamas?

Polar Express

You can not go past a Christmas candy cane. Picture: Helena McShane.

A very, very funny and heartwarming session of seriously out-of-tune caroling followed and then in a flash, the ride was over.

We could have sat on the that train for hours, DAYS even. It was so relaxing, it was so warm, it was perfect.

The “North Pole” wasn’t too shabby either – full of train rides, craft activities and well, not snow but snow in spirit. The kids and kidults were stuffed with Christmas feel-good and that train ride might just become a new tradition in this family.

Getting there: The Polar Express runs from West Coast Railway Heritage Park in November and December every year. The train ride takes 55 minutes after which kids can explore the North Pole Workshop and Gingerbread Villiage for a chance to meet Mr and Mrs Claus. 

Squamish is in British Colombia Canada, nestled between Vancouver and Whistler along the Sea to Sky corridor. 

Staying there: Check out the Explore Squamish website for hotels, hostels and camping spots 

Read More: 

On the Rails- taking Canada’s best train trips by storm

Why Whistler will wow the kids

Return to the wild in Canada


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