Essex Steam Train’s North Pole Express
Last year Brandon and I had the opportunity to take Stink on the Essex Steam Train’s North Pole Express as part of a group event with our adoption agency. She wasn’t quite a year old but we were hoping she would enjoy being around the other kids and getting her first glimpse of Santa Claus.To say she enjoyed herself was a complete understatement.
This kid had a blast! There are 4 departure times for the North Pole Express, all in the late afternoon or early evening. Our departure was 7 pm and we chose to dress Stink in her warm footie pajamas for the trip (pajamas are an encouraged outfit for this event but I didn’t see any adults partaking in that).
Each train car was assigned a special elf who got us in the Christmas spirit by singing Christmas songs, playing games and getting us ready to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus. The train winds its way through central Connecticut until…we reach the North Pole! You can see the North Pole decorated for Christmas and Santa waves to you as the train stops to pick him up. We were the last train car so Santa visited our car first. He brought a special little gift for each of the kids (ours was a jingle bell) as he made his way through the car, shaking hands and letting the children sit on his lap.
Mrs. Claus isn’t as stout as Santa so she can’t hold the kids or let them sit on her lap but she still plays with them and shakes hands.
After Santa left the elves brought out hot chocolate and sugar cookies for everybody. Warm and delicious! The train stopped to turn around and we made our way back to Essex, passing by the North Pole again for another look and to drop Santa off to finish getting ready for Christmas.
The Verdict: Our whole family loved the North Pole Express but at $30 per person for coach class tickets it’s on the pricey side and gets expensive for larger families to do. We’ll probably go again but not every year. First class tickets are $63 and they come with plush armchairs and a cash beverage service with alcoholic drinks.
When to Go: I recommend any of the time slots available because in Connecticut it gets dark pretty quickly so everyone will be able to enjoy the festive Christmas lighting in the train cars.
Other Tips and Tricks: BOOK EARLY!! Tickets went on sale this year in early September and within the first 3 days they had sold 90% of the tickets for the season. We tried getting tickets the first week of October and they were all gone. Also, if you’re bringing young children I suggest feeding them first or bringing a snack with you. The cookies and hot chocolate are served about an hour after the departure and you don’t want to have kids distracted by hunger when they should be enjoying the ride!
Child Friendly? Definitely. I recommend this trip for young ones who are in that magical stage where they’re old enough to get excited about Christmas but young enough to still believe in Santa. Stink didn’t know who Santa was but she was thoroughly intrigued by everyone’s costumes. Since we missed the window to buy tickets this year I am going to make sure we get some next year.
Pet Friendly? No