The Polar Express

The Polar Express™ Train Ride, a Local’s Review

My family and I went on The Polar Express™ train ride in Carson City. This was our 4rd time attending.  The Polar Express™ comes to Northern Nevada annually in November and runs through December 23/24th.  It’s about a one-hour train ride that is filled with entertainment from the start to the end.

It was a fun evening and I am glad we went.  My kids are now 9, 6, and 5 and they all 3 had a wonderful time! I’m sharing my review and offering a few tips from our experience. 

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The Polar Express™

2023 Season Dates

For the 2022 season dates are the following: 

  • Nov. 17- Dec. 23, Wednesday – Sunday; Trains depart at 5PM, 6:30PM and 8PM.


Long story short – you should buy your tickets way in advance.  Tickets go on sale each year around July and many of the preferred dates sell out very FAST, as do VIP tickets. Make sure you follow us on Instagram because we always share when the tickets are on sale. 

If you are hoping to go closer to Christmas or in the VIP Parlor Car, plan on buying your tickets during the summer.

  • *Infants 24 months and under ride free when sitting on parent’s lap.

If your kids are on the younger side and you can swing it, I suggest booking the 5:00 train, simply because you’d be the first passengers of the evening so ideally, won’t have to worry about any delays and can still get home for bedtime!

Ticket Prices

Here is a breakdown of ticket prices for the season: 


  • Adults (Ages 16 & up) $60 – $70+ Historical Fee
  • Children (Ages 2-15) $55 – $65 + Historical Fee


  • Per Table $180.00 – $240.00 + Historical Fee
  • Space allows for 4 total seated at a table with 2 bench seats. The configuration of your table is up to the discretion of the purchaser.


  • Private Room for 15 – $1,100 – $1,350 + Historical Fee


  • Bench (2 seats) $60 – $80 + Historical Fee
  • *Purchase of the entire bench is required – half benches are not available. 

polar express carson city


For your convenience, all parking is at Eastgate Depot is available for $10 per parking space.  Handicapped passengers can be dropped off at the entrance and we have plenty of handicapped spaces available that are free to those with handicapped Placards.  


Seating is not assigned. When you pick up your tickets you are assigned to a car. If you are with a large group, arrive ahead of time and request the same car.  We would also recommend getting in line early (approx 30/45 minutes early). 

polar express train reno


In The Polar Express™ story, the train picks up the children in the middle of the night so they are all dressed in their pajamas.  They encourage kids and adults to follow suit and come dressed in pajamas.

I naturally jump at any reason to match my kids, so we all wore matching pajamas.  It’s pretty easy nowadays to find matching pajamas and we found ours at Target.

On our train, nearly all of the kids were in pajamas and probably 75% of adults were as well.

The waiting area before you board the train is cold so definitely come wearing jackets and hats to keep warm before you board. If you have a baby, babywearing is also a great option, no strollers. 

It was not too loud or overstimulating for my kids so I do not think earphones are needed but if you have a child you may be more sensitive it never hurts to pack them. 

Train Ride

The train ride is about 60 minutes long and they do a great job at following the story. During the train ride, the entertainment includes songs and acting. Different scenes from the story are shown, from punching the tickets to serving hot cocoa and cookies.  They also read the story during the ride. 


At the North Pole Santa gets on the train and gives everyone a bell and an opportunity to snap a quick picture with your group. 

Professional pictures with Santa are also available for purchase and start at $25 at the depot, we stopped in to say hi to Santa there and they were great and said they really make it a full experience when you see Santa and try to help even the shyest visitors! 


There are no restrooms on the train (unless its an emergency), make sure you and your kiddos use the restroom at the depot before boarding.  

North Pole

About 30 minutes into the train ride you arrive at the “North Pole”.  

They have some small built buildings lit and a handful of elves waving as well as Santa and his sleigh.

You are only at the North Pole to pick up Santa, so the train is only stopped for a few minutes (you stay on the train), and then the train heads back to the depot.  

The Depot

At the depot, there is The Polar Express™ souvenir shop. They had for sale items such as snow globes, conductor hats, board games, or even The Polar Express™ Train set, and more.  They accept both cash or card.

A different Santa is also at the depot for your kids to take pictures for an additional cost. 


No food available for purchase. I do suggest bringing a water bottle on the train as my kids always get thirsty after the hot cocoa and cookies! There are no food trucks this year, but this is something they hope to be bringing back in the future years to come! 

A New Tradition

Overall my family had a great time and experience aboard The Polar Express™.  We watched the movie the night before and I am so glad we did because it made the train ride more exciting and they followed along with the storyline. 

If you are going, I recommend you watch the movie or read the book prior.  My kids loved how the tickets looked just like the ones in the movie too, and they point out other similarities as well.

I think ages 3 and up are ideal for the train ride.  If you have other kids younger than 3 they are free to sit on your lap so I still would bring them!

I would definitely recommend it to any family at least 1 time, but can totally see how families make it a yearly tradition as well!

Have you ridden The Polar Express™ before?

What other tips would you give?  What was your favorite part about the experience?


Kacey Queen is a co-founder of Nevada Moms

Kacey received her bachelor's in Psychology while cheering for the University of Oregon. They moved to Reno in 2014 and have loved it ever since. She is a dedicated homeschooling mother to her three children.

She serves on the board for Northern Nevada Health Systems, and Northern Nevada Sports and Recreation, and she is passionate about her community.

Kacey loves exploring with her family and finding family-friendly events and activities! A few of her favorite things include family adventures, exploring the outdoors, working out, local coffee shops, and dessert!