Celebrating the holidays with kids always seems to include lights, Santa, presents and trains. We are currently obsessed with trains! In our opinion, the ultimate holiday train experience is the Polar Express Train Ride in Branson, but there are other options locally, too. For those who can’t afford The Polar Express Train Ride or just don’t have the time to drive to Branson this season, here are some other fun, train-related activities for you to enjoy. Keep in mind that some train events are mobile while others are not.
Belton, MO (December 2 & 9, 2017)
$15 for ages 3 and up, 2 and under are free on lap
Enjoy a 40-minute train ride where Santa and Mrs. Claus will visit with guests and stop for photos. After the ride, enjoy hot chocolate and a cookie at the depot. Dress appropriately for the weather, as the train is not heated. Tickets go on sale November 15 at 8 a.m.! The tickets will be handled on a “will call” basis to be purchased in advance and picked up the day of the ride. No tickets will be sold on the day of. There are less than 50 seats available per ride and they sell quickly!
Bonner Springs, KS (December 2, 3, 9 & 10, 2017)
Free, donations accepted
Join Santa in the historic Morris Train Depot and ride the Union Pacific! You will take in all the Christmas decorations on the farm. Have some hot cocoa, a cookie and get a picture with Santa! There will also be kids crafts at the depot. This is not a full-sized train, but it circles around a pond and takes place at the National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame.
“Santa Claus Express”
Baldwin City, KS (now through December 10, 2017)
$17-36 depending on age and seating area
Take a train ride with Santa Claus! You will get to see Santa in his own specially-decorated passenger car and take pictures. Each passenger gets to enjoy hot cocoa/hot cider and sugar cookies! There will be 1st Class and Coach Seating available. Dressing in your pj’s is encouraged!
“The Polar Express Train Ride”
Branson, MO (now through December 23, 2017)
$31-56 for ages 2-12, $41-66 for adults (plus tax)
Experience a train ride to the North Pole set to the sounds of “The Polar Express” soundtrack! Passengers will enjoy a reading of The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg complete with hot chocolate and cookies served on board the train. Upon arriving at the North Pole, Santa greets guests and each child will receive their own sleigh bell–just like in the movie! Families are encouraged to wear their pj’s for the ride!
Tour three train cars and visit with Santa and his elves! Each car is sparkling with festive lights and decor. In Oak Grove, food vendors will be onsite selling holiday nuts, hot chocolate, kettle corn, deep-fried candy bars and more. For Union Station visits with the train, reservations will be available starting November 30-December 2 for members and on December 3 for non-members. The reservations are not required, but allow your family to skip the line. Event parking at Union Station during the Holiday Express’ visit will be $8. Please note, the Holiday Express is available for touring only; no rides are given aboard this train.
“Mini Holiday Express Train”
Union Station (varied schedule starting November 18, 2017-Jan 1, 2018)
Free for members, $5 for non-members
This is a miniature train ride for kids under 48″ tall, which circles around a holiday display of Christmas trees, presents and more in the Grand Plaza.
“Santa’s Gingerbread Station”
Crown Center (varied schedule November 24-December 31, 2017)
This interactive exhibit includes taking your own photo with Santa Claus (professionally with a fee, through December 24), enjoying Gingerbread Village, and climbing aboard the Crown Center Express Train Engine. Please note, there is no train ride associated with this event, but great photo opps!