During the holiday season, there are many opportunities for children to experience the most wonderful time of the year. The National Capital Trolley Museum is celebrating the holidays with their annual Holly Trolley Fest.
I have a family of train lovers so this was a fun outing and a great way to begin the holiday season. In addition to the regular museum experience, children can ride a streetcar with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
I was surprised that opening day was not crowded. After paying our admission, $7 for adults and $5 for children ages 2 to 17, we made our way through the small museum. As soon as we walked in, we heard “all aboard” and a conductor motioning us to step on the trolley.
Our trolley was built in 1971 and originated from The Netherlands. It was neat to see the writing in Dutch and the fact that the conductor hails from The Hague made for an authentic ride.
The streetcar was clean, comfortable and had air conditioning. While the two mile ride through Northwest Branch Park was a little bumpy, we didn’t care, we were here to see Santa! Santa had just stepped off the 1951 Toronto streetcar behind us to board ours.
A roar of cheers erupted through the crowd of young children. A nice addition was seeing Mrs. Claus join Santa for the ride. Bring your camera as there are plenty of photo opportunities with Santa before and during the trip.
The conductor stopped halfway through the journey to punch tickets and let Santa greet everyone. Santa himself knows a lot about the history of streetcars as my husband spent some time chatting with him. While there isn’t much too see on the ride due to the bare trees, we did spot one of Santa’s reindeer running through the woods.
After arriving back at the station, Santa and Mrs. Claus said goodbye. The conductor allowed children to ring the trolley bell. The admission price allows for unlimited rides. The family behind us was on their second trip. Rides operate every 30 minutes.
The museum classroom is transformed into a Christmas garden exhibit. A Christmas tree is lit and in front is a model train railway and holiday village. Parents could not get their kids to leave the room. It was a nice touch seeing trolley cars and toy trains decorating a snowy landscape.
The gift shop has a great selection of children’s books for Thomas the Train fans including some Christmas selections, non-Thomas train books, toy trains, conductor hats, and collector streetcars. There are clean restrooms and water fountains located across from the gift shop.
While the museum experience was good overall, there are some things they could have done to make it better for this event. Santa and Mrs. Claus needed to hand out a souvenir to the kids. While a mini trolley would be expensive, a candy cane would certainly be appropriate.
I had hoped for some additional decorations or holiday music in the museum itself. The atmosphere needed to be a bit merrier.
Holly Trolley Fest occurs every Saturday and Sunday until December 18, 2011 from noon to 5 p.m. If you are thinking of visiting the National Capital Trolley Museum in the future, this event is a great value combining the regular museum experience with a bit of Christmas cheer.