THE POLAR EXPRESSTM in Rowan County, NC
“Well, are you coming?” Inspired by the hit movie, this holiday favorite comes to life as you and your family take a magical trip on THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride! This Rowan County original holiday event is held at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, NC each holiday season.
Set to the sounds of the motion picture soundtrack, families are sure to enjoy their trip to the North Pole, complete with hot chocolate and cookies served on board the train. Passengers are entertained by a reading of Chris Van Allsburg’s classic, THE POLAR EXPRESS™. Upon arrival at the North Pole, passengers deboard to watch Santa present the first gift of Christmas. Before exiting the train at Candy Cane Lane, all passengers who BELIEVE will receive their own sleigh bell.
Experience the joy of caroling and holiday entertainment that will surely become an annual family tradition. Children of all ages are encouraged to wear their pajamas for this 70-minute event and join in on the magic of Christmas!
Rowan County Tourism offers complimentary tickets to THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride each year as part of our Overnight Stay & Play Packages. You can earn free tickets by booking your overnight stay in a Rowan County lodging property during THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride event. Be sure to learn more about this offer and others on our special offers page.
How much does it cost to ride the Polar Express at the North Carolina Transportation Museum?
Ticket prices for the Polar Express depend on passenger ages and class seating you choose for your experience. Prices may range anywhere from $34 to $390 per person.
Where is the Polar Express train ride in North Carolina?
The Polar Express train ride is located at the N.C. Transportation Museum in the town of Spencer, N.C. which is just a short drive from Salisbury, N.C.
Do you have to wear pajamas on the Polar Express train ride?
Although pajamas are not required on the Polar Express, event participants are encouraged to wear pajamas to have a more immersive and memorable holiday experience.
Where is the North Carolina Transportation Museum?
The North Carolina Transportation Museum is located just a short distance from Salisbury, N.C. in the town of Spencer, N.C.
Are there different classes of service?
Yes, there are different classes of service. The Polar Express event offers different seating classes including Standard, Deluxe, First Class and Parlor. Each class includes hot cocoa, a cookie, a silver sleigh bell, and a golden ticket. Premium tickets (any class above the Standard class seating) include additional perks like treat bags, keepsake mugs, and other souvenirs.
What can I expect on the Polar Express train ride?
The Polar Express train ride is an immersive experience with a combination of live theatrical performances and a train ride through the museum’s grounds of 60 acres.
Does a child in my lap need a ticket?
Any child under the age of two is permitted to sit in the lap of one adult. Any child over the age of 2 requires a ticket to experience the Polar Express.
How long is the Polar Express train ride?
The Polar Express event is approximately 70 minutes long including both the train ride itself and theatrical performances.
Is the train wheelchair accessible?
Not all rail cars on the Polar Express are wheelchair accessible, but a limited number of wheelchair accessible seats are available. When purchasing tickets, be sure to reserve “Wheelchair Seating” for those in your party in wheelchairs. “ADA & Companion Seating” can be purchased for the rest of your party. Staff at the N.C. Transportation Museum will assist those in wheelchairs when boarding and deboarding the train.
Do I need to purchase a ticket in advance?
Because Polar Express tickets are in very high demand, we recommend booking seats as soon as you are able. The N.C. Transportation Museum reports that certain departure times & cars sell out quickly.
What are appropriate ages for the Polar Express?
This tradition is perfect for visitors of all ages and is ideal for families wanting to spend time and make memories together for the holiday season.
Is the train heated?
Yes, all rail cars on the Polar Express are heated.
How do I get to the North Carolina Transportation Museum?
Just a short distance away from its surrounding towns and cities, Salisbury, Charlotte, Greensboro and Winston Salem, the N.C. Transportation Museum is located at 411 S. Salisbury Avenue, Spencer, NC 28159. However, the museum recommends entering in the address, ‘1 Samuel Spencer Drive, Spencer NC 28159’ if using a GPS.
From I-85 you’ll take exit 79 and travel north along Andrews St. for 1.5 miles, to the second stoplight. Then you’ll turn left onto Hwy. 29 (Salisbury Avenue). The museum entrance will be about 1/3 mile on your left.
From Statesville, you’ll take I-40 to I-77 South (Exit 152). From I-77, you’ll take exit 49A (G. Bagnal Blvd.) which is Highway 70. Then you’ll travel Hwy. 70 for 23 miles to the West End Plaza in Salisbury. You’ll continue straight past West End Plaza, drive about 2.5 miles and you will pass Novant Health Rowan Medical Center on the right. About 2 blocks beyond the Medical Center, you’ll turn right onto Clubhouse Drive (at the “To Main Street” sign). Then you’ll follow Clubhouse Drive, veering left at the curve. Clubhouse Drive becomes 11th Street. At the light, you will turn left onto Main Street and travel for 2 miles, passing through downtown Spencer. You will pass downtown shops on the left, and the museum entrance will be on the right, just beyond 1st Street.
Is there food at the event?
Food vendors will be available upon scheduling with options including corn, snacks, hot dogs, hamburgers and more. S’more kits will also be available for purchase at fire pits set-up on the main grounds of the museum before boarding. On the train, passengers will be served hot cocoa and chocolate chip cookies. If you’re looking for somewhere in the area to dine at, check out our Restaurants to find the perfect place for you and your family.
Where can I stay overnight?
Here in Rowan County, there are plenty of original places to choose from when it comes to lodging, and all are within a short driving distance of the N.C. Transportation Museum. All your options can be found by checking out our Places to Stay.
Special packages are also available providing free tickets or gift certificates for those who take advantage of lodging in Rowan County. Check out our Polar Express Package to learn how you can claim your free tickets/gift certificate.