I usually have a "December 1st rule." Meaning, I usually wait until Dec. 1 before I celebrate Christmas. No decorations. No shopping. No merry. Just Mary.
This year, I broke my rule to review "The North Pole Express" train ride at the Arcade and Attica Railroad. I needed to get on board to let folks know what it's all about. Well, it is fabulous.
We knew it was going to be a chilly afternoon, so my husband and I bundled up our little girls and we were off.
The historic train station in Arcade is filled with old pictures that really take you on a trip back in time. You can grab some snacks if you desire (popcorn, candy, water). Once you hear the whistle blow, it's time to board. There are several cars, which were all full. Seats are assigned, which is great. It makes it easier and keeps families together.
The 20 or so minute ride to the North Pole was fun. Elves hand out crayons and paper for kids to make their wish list for Santa. Christmas music is playing but it was tough to hear it with all of the chatter from the many passengers. Still, it was thrilling. The scenery was just beautiful. The seats were comfortable, it was warm and everyone was excited to see Santa.
Once we arrived at our station, it was like someone gave the cue to drop the snow. The timing couldn't have been better. Snow was falling at the North Pole which was just so perfect. Emma, 4, just couldn't believe it.
The North Pole is pretty cool. It's decorated in such a lovely way, you can't help but get into the Christmas spirit even if it's before Dec. 1.
We checked out the reindeer first. Wow, the three beautiful animals were a big hit with the kids. Then we got in line to see Santa and Mrs. Claus. The line seemed long but only took a few minutes to wind through. The anticipation was just too much for our girls, but it was all worth it for Emma when she met Santa. This was an amazing St. Nick and his wife was perfection. They knocked it out of the park. They were sweet. And lovely. And real. Even with Ella who, let's just say isn't quite a fan yet. She wanted daddy, not the Clauses.
The North Pole has a small snack bar. We got two hot dogs, three hot chocolates, two cookies and an apple juice box for $12. Not bad at all. And it was all delicious. It was a little chilly inside, but what do you expect at the North Pole?
The entire trip lasts about two and a half hours. But it flies by and when that last whistle blows to signal that you're back at the station, it's a little sad. The kids get an elf doll and some reindeer food to take home for Christmas Eve.
Some of the kids wore their Christmas pajamas. I opted for matching sweaters and leggings. They were toasty warm and comfy. Everyone I spoke with on the trip loved it. It was a very special day and my girls loved every minute of it. As you can imagine, Santa is the highlight. We can't wait to do it again next year.
- Dress warm and bring hats, gloves, boots. The train is nice and toasty, but the North Pole is cold.
- Snacks are offered at the station, on the train and at the North Pole. They ask you not bring your own food.
- There is a restroom on the train but it's small. It doesn't have a changing table table or sink, so bring a changing pad and hand sanitizer.
- Cash only - they do not accept credit cards at the snack bar, on board the train or at the North Pole.
- Bring a camera and capture the moments.
The North Pole Express
The Arcade and Attica Railroad
278 Main St., Arcade
Dates: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sundays through Dec. 23. Some dates are already sold-out so order tickets in advance.
Cost: Adults, $24; ages 2-12, $22; under 2 are free.
Info and reservations: 948-0505, arcadeandatticarr.com