The Polar Express Train Ride at the B&O Railroad Museum

Magical does not begin to describe the experience of riding the “real” Polar Express. Any little (or big) fan of the classic book and movie will be beside themselves to get their very own golden ticket and hop aboard the train.  

Arriving at the B&O Museum

The Polar Express leaves from the B&O Museum. When you arrive at the museum, you will check-in according to your seating class (bronze, silver or gold).  

Then, while you wait for the program to begin kids can make a craft out of pipe cleaner or dance! 

Boarding the Polar Express

Once departure time rolls around, the magic begins! 

Passengers line up and nighttime the conductor and the boy appear and greet the passengers and set the stage for the Polar Express. 

The conductor and boy look convincingly like those in the movie.  As passengers head outside to board the train, they meet the conductor and the boy and take a photo.

Be sure to look out for the hobo! Then it’s time to head to the North Pole.      

Riding the Polar Express Train

The train is decorated with gifts and garlands. Snowflakes and frost on the windows. 

Once passengers take their seats, hosts dressed just like those in the movie in white coats greet the passengers.

While the train is en route to the North Pole a recording of a reading of The Polar Express book comes on and the hosts hold up giant picture books so that kids can follow along with the story.

The highlight of the trip is when Santa comes aboard and gives each child (and grown-up!) the first gift of Christmas – a silver “believe bell.” 

Santa stops to talk to each child and pose for a photo. Before getting off the train, each passenger is given a Polar Express tote bag with cookies and hot chocolate to eat at home.

Arriving at The North Pole

When the train reaches the North Pole, the first stop is walking under shimmering arches with “snow” falling all around.

At the North Pole kids can tell Santa what they would like for Christmas and have their picture taken. There is a large walk-through Christmas tree, a mock Polar Express station, more trains to explore, and a play station with toy trains, model trains, and plenty of crafts including making reindeer food and ornaments.      

Our Experience

My six-year-old companions loved their ride on the Polar Express! 

A ride on the Polar Express is the perfect way to kick off the holiday season.  It’s an experience every child should have at least once.

It’s great for any child (or child at heart) who believes in the magic of Christmas

Know Before You Go

  • The Polar Express runs on the following dates: November 25-27 & December 2-4, 9-11 & 16-19, 2022 
  • Tickets will almost certainly sell out so we highly recommend getting tickets in advance. Tickets start at $47.00. You can purchase tickets here.
  • Doors open about 30 minutes before departure time.  The Polar Express is a very popular event.  There may be a wait to check-in so we recommend arriving early. Once the Polar Express departs it’s gone so you don’t want to miss it.
  • No strollers are allowed on the train.  There is stroller parking available if you need a stroller to get from the parking lot to the check-in area.
  • Parking for this event is in the museum’s back parking lot at 1100 James Street, not the main parking lot.  There is a short walk from the parking lot to the museum, which is across the street and up a short hill. There will be staff directing you so you can’t get lost!   
  • PJs are encouraged!  On our trip we saw several families in matching PJs, which made for some great photo ops! Plus, when else can adults wear pajamas in public?
  • There is a Polar Express gift shop so that you can stock up for the season.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Polar Express ride worth it?

Absolutely! My kids loved their ride on the Polar Express and it is a great way to kick off the holiday season.

What is the best age for kids to enjoy the Polar Express ride?

Kids ages 6+ can absolutely love the experience.

Can I wear my PJs on the Polar Express?

PJs are encouraged!  On our trip we saw several families in matching PJs, which made for some great photo ops! Plus, when else can adults wear pajamas in public?

Photo of author

Jamie Davis Smith

Jamie has lived in Washington, DC for more than twenty years and she loves exploring all the area has to offer with her four children.