Nevada Polar Express Train Rides (2024): A Complete Guide (2024)

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Last revised: December 30, 2023

By:Adam Burns

Many excursion trains and railroad museums around the country host Christmas-themed train rides. However, only a select few feature officially licensed "The Polar Express" trips which recreateChris Van Allsburg's magical tale. One of these is found in Nevada at the historic Virginia & Truckee Railway! More information about this train ride may be found further below.

Nevada Polar Express Train Rides (2024): A Complete Guide (1)Virginia & Truckee 2-8-0 #29 steams through the snow south of Virginia City, Nevada with a chartered photo special on March 2, 2010. Drew Jacksich photo.

Other Family-Friendly Activities

If you are interested in some other popular Christmas events hosted during the holidays throughout Nevada the state offers plenty of exciting activities for the whole family, from dazzling light shows and ice skating to immersive winter wonderlands and magical train rides. With so many options to choose from, you're sure to find something that will make your holiday season unforgettable.

Glittering Lights

Located at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Glittering Lights is an annual drive-through light show that has become a Christmas tradition for many families in Nevada. The attraction features millions of dazzling lights, themed displays, and holiday music, all of which can be enjoyed from the comfort of your own vehicle. The show runs from mid-November to early January, and tickets can be purchased online in advance.

Ice Skating

Ice skating is a classic winter activity that the whole family can enjoy. Nevada offers several ice skating rinks, including the outdoor rink at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas and the indoor rink at South Tahoe Ice Arena in South Lake Tahoe. Both locations offer skate rentals and special events throughout the holiday season.

Christmas Town

Located in the small town of Ely, Christmas Town is a magical holiday attraction that features a dazzling light display, holiday music, and festive activities for the whole family. Visitors can take a train ride through the town, visit Santa's workshop, enjoy hot cocoa and cookies, and even take a picture with Santa Claus himself. Christmas Town runs from late November through December, and tickets can be purchased online in advance.

Santa's Wonderland

If you're looking for a truly immersive Christmas experience, look no further than Santa's Wonderland in Reno. This attraction features an indoor winter wonderland, complete with snow, ice skating, holiday crafts, and visits with Santa and his reindeer. There's even a live nativity scene and a holiday market for shopping. Santa's Wonderland runs from late November to early January, and tickets can be purchased online in advance.

Santa’s Reindeer Flyer Christmas Express Train

This event is a popular Christmas-themed train ridehosted at the Nevada Northern Railway Museum in Ely. The train departs from the Nevada Northern Railway Museum in Ely and features live actors, hot cocoa, and a special visit from Santa Claus himself. The ride runs from late November through December, and tickets can be purchased online in advance.

Ethel M Chocolates Holiday Cactus Garden

The Ethel M Chocolates Holiday Cactus Garden is a popular attraction in Las Vegas during the holiday season. The garden features over 1 million twinkling lights, and the cacti are decorated with various holiday-themed ornaments. It's a great place to take the family for a stroll and enjoy the holiday atmosphere while savoring some of Ethel M's delicious chocolate treats.

Lake Tahoe Snowmobile Tours

Lake Tahoe is a popular winter destination, and during the Christmas season, snowmobile tours are a great way to enjoy the snow-covered scenery with your family. There are several companies that offer snowmobile tours in the Lake Tahoe area, and most tours last between 1-2 hours.

Christmas at the Bellagio

The Bellagio is a popular hotel and casino in Las Vegas, and during the holiday season, the hotel hosts a Christmas display that is open to the public. The display includes a 42-foot-tall Christmas tree, a life-size chocolate fountain, and a gingerbread house that is over 6 feet tall.

Christmas in the Village

Genoa, Nevada is a small town located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. During the holiday season, the town hosts a Christmas in the Village event, which includes a tree lighting ceremony, caroling, and a visit from Santa Claus. There are also several craft vendors and food trucks for attendees to enjoy.

2024 Dates Will Be Included As They Become Available!


Virginia & Truckee Railway

(Carson City): Nevada may not be the first state which comes to mind when it comes to railroads. However, not only was the historical western leg of the Transcontinental Railroad (Central Pacific) but also three major tourist attractions/museums can be found there today.

The history of the Virginia & Truckee is quite fascinating. It's legend was born during the 19th and early 20th centuries when it handled copious of silver ore following the famousComstock Lode's discovery in 1850 in Gold Canyon, Nevada (near present-day Dayton).

As increasing volumes of silver (and some gold) were mined, a railroad was needed. This idea had been discussed since 1861 with a planned line linking Virginia City with Carson City; work was finally launched on February 18, 1869 and completed later that year onSeptember 28.

The V&T became one of the richest little short lines in the nation (it was earning $100,000 in profits each month in 1875) and would expand to Reno where a connection was reached with the Southern Pacific (31 miles from Carson City).

It would also open a 15-mile branch to Minden in 1906. Following the repeal of theSherman Silver Purchase Act in 1893 the price of silver sharply declined and so did the V&T's fortunes.

It failed to earn a profit for the first time ever in 1924 and ran its last train over the original trackage between Virginia City and Carson City on June 4, 1938. Following years of mounting losses, operations ceased entirely onMay 30, 1950.

The effort to rebuild the original line began in the 1970's and especially took flight in the 1990's. A great deal has been accomplished but is not yet complete.

However, the work continues and the present-day V&T now hosts several excursions throughout the year, including special events like officialThe Polar Expresstrain rides during November and December. These trains are pulled by historic steam locomotives and a diesel switcher.

The Polar Express Dates:

Nevada Polar Express Train Rides (2024): A Complete Guide (2024)


Is The Polar Express ride worth it? ›

Honestly, we had the best time and everyone was so friendly and in character and everything was executed so well. It was definitely a wonderful and festive way to kick off the holiday season. You could REALLY feel the magic of Christmas!

What are the locations for The Polar Express train ride? ›

To find out more about the magical experience and view pricing & dates, select your nearest venue below.
  • South Devon. South Devon Railway, The Railway Station, ...
  • Edinburgh. Edinburgh Waverley. Edinburgh, ...
  • Kent. Spa Valley Railway, West Station, ...
  • Yorkshire. Wensleydale Railway, ...
  • Oxfordshire. Cholsey & Wallingford Railway,

What do they do on The Polar Express train ride? ›

Once on board, car hosts will work their way through the coach and punch golden tickets before hot chocolate and a delicious cookie are served by dancing chefs. Passengers then read along with the classic children's book, The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg.

How much is it to go on The Polar Express? ›

TICKETS: £33.95 TO £47.95

In THE POLAR EXPRESS ™ Classic, you will receive: Hot chocolate.

Do you wear pajamas on The Polar Express train ride? ›

Children under two receive a silver sleigh bell from Santa but do not receive a treat or hot chocolate. What should my family wear? Families are encouraged to wear warm pajamas just like passengers from THE POLAR EXPRESS™ book and film.

What is the best age for Polar Express? ›

Because of its suspenseful scenes, The Polar Express isn't suitable for children under 6-7 years. We also recommend parental guidance for children aged 8-13 years. These are the main messages from The Polar Express: Sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can't see.

Is Polar Express better at night or day? ›

Consider what time of day you travel. Younger kids may do better on earlier trains, but the last train ride of the evening is arguably the most atmospheric when it's darker outside, the train cars seem cozier, and you can see the holiday lights better.

Do you get off the train on the Polar Express? ›

You are on board the train for approximately 1 hour. Once your experience is over you can spend as much time in our gift shop as you wish but we tend to find guests spend around 15min – 30min here before you head back on the shuttle to the car park. Therefore we find guests are with us around 1:30-2 hours.

What is the difference between standard and premium on the Polar Express? ›

We offer Premium and Standard tickets, located in their own carriages. The experience is broadly the same across both Premium and Standard carriages, the primary difference being the centrally located boarding for Premium as well as a free exclusive mug for each member of your party (aged 2+ or with their own seat).

Is there a toilet on the Polar Express? ›

The carriages are stationed so you can't see either end of the train. The carriages were decorated with tinsel and lights and there are toilets on the train. The journey was entertaining with music, dancing chefs, ghost hobo and the conductor.

Do you eat on the Polar Express? ›

The difference between classes are the amenities and seating options. Standard: Passengers receive hot cocoa (served in a quality paper cup), a cookie, a silver sleigh bell, and a golden ticket. Tickets are for seats in coaches, without tables.

What do adults wear on a Polar Express train ride? ›

What should I wear for THE POLAR EXPRESS™? We encourage our guests young and old to wear pyjamas, just as in the book with a dressing gown for good measure.

Where is the best Polar Express train ride? ›

Top Polar Express Train Rides in the U.S.
  • Grand Canyon Railway | Williams, Arizona. ...
  • Colorado Railroad Museum | Golden, Colorado. ...
  • Great Smoky Mountains Railroad | Bryson City, North Carolina. ...
  • Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. ...
  • Branson Scenic Railway | Branson, Missouri. ...
  • French Lick Scenic Railway | French Lick, Indiana.

Can you drink on The Polar Express? ›

Is alcohol served on the train? THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride is a family-friendly event and no alcohol is sold or allowed on board the train or on the event grounds.

What do you get on The Polar Express? ›

Don't forget to have a bite of your tasty cookie and a sip of authentic hot chocolate before meeting the main man himself Santa Claus. Santa will join you on board and, if you are on the nice list, hand you your first gift of Christmas, a Silver Sleigh Bell just like in the motion picture we all love.

Why does Polar Express get so much hate? ›

Let's address the elephant in the room: a lot of people hate this movie. The most common complaint is that the animation makes the people look uncanny, and I get it. However, I don't think that's enough to dismiss all the great things about the movie.

What is so good about The Polar Express? ›

The movie is trying to convey to the audience that it's not about what you see and how things work, it's about choosing to believe in the magic of the world. The power that choice to believe has is where the magic of childlike wonder comes from and is something people seem to forget when they grow into adulthood.

How long does The Polar Express take? ›

We ask guests to arrive at the check-in time shown on your e-ticket at the park and ride this gives us enough time to shuttle you to site and for you to grab a bite to eat if you wish. You are on board the train for approximately 1 hour.


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