All aboard THE POLAR EXPRESS Train Ride in Elbe, WA

Christmas SpiritThe holiday spirit has hit our house hard, and we’re all full of holiday cheer. This means it’s time to schedule all the Seattle area events, and top of that list is THE POLAR EXPRESS train ride just south of Seattle by Mt. Rainier National Park. Now in its second year of operation in Elbe, THE POLAR EXPRESS Train Ride is one of the Mt. Rainier Railroad’s premier annual events.

This 90-minute special event includes live entertainment, hot chocolate, cookies and a special gift from Santa for those who truly believe. Set to the sounds of the motion picture soundtrack, THE POLAR EXPRESS Train Ride lets passengers relive the magic of the story as they are whisked away on a steam train that travels 14 miles between the towns of Elbe and Mineral, WA.

Photo Courtesy: Mt. Rainier Railroad and Logging Museum
Photo Courtesy: Mt. Rainier Railroad and Logging Museum

THE POLAR EXPRESS guests will enjoy hot chocolate and holiday treats as they read the classic children’s book along with the characters. At the “North Pole”, guests remain on the train at the museum to observe the lighted display, enjoy decorations and visit with our special VIP guests, Santa Claus and his elves. Santa Claus and his helpers greet all passengers, and then board the train to give each child their first gift of Christmas. Chefs in each car lead passengers in singing Christmas carols on the ride back to Elbe.

Along the route

The route from Elbe to Mineral features views of the thick forest and foothills south of Mount Rainier. The route begins in the small town of Elbe {population 29}. A tiny historic church, the second oldest and second smallest church in the United States, is located next door to the train depot. Volunteers operate the church and on sporadic occasion offer complimentary tours throughout the summer and fall months.

The highlight of the train journey is crossing the Upper Nisqually River. The river is fed from a glacier at Mt. Rainier National Park. It is here at the river crossing that passengers can see the mountain from the train. The view of the mountain features the Paradise side. Even though the tracks are down at an elevation of just 1,470 feet, on a clear day guests can see the soaring peak of Mt. Rainier high above at 14,416 feet, and it is often sporting a year-round coat of snow. The train will cross the river once on the way to the museum and again on the return trip back to the depot.

The trains and service

Standard Class train coaches are Tacoma Rail cars representative of the 1950’s era Amtrak passengers cars with comfortable front-facing upholstered seats in paired rows. First Class vintage Olympian Hiawatha cars feature table-and-chair or booth configuration, which allows for parties of 4 to sit facing each other.

In Standard Class, hot chocolate is served with a cookie, the cocoa is in a disposable mug. First Class includes a collector’s edition souvenir mug with your hot chocolate and cookie. The mug is exclusively available to First Class passengers and cannot be found in stores.

Photo Courtesy: Mt. Rainier Railroad and Logging Museum
Photo Courtesy: Mt. Rainier Railroad and Logging Museum

Schedule your trip

All tickets are for reserved seats, allowing your party to select their configuration of seats together. Book early for your choice of dates, trip time and class of service.

MRRR’s THE POLAR EXPRESS Train Ride features at least two excursions planned for each day at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. PST. Additional excursions may be added by consumer demand. On peak days, the MRRR will operate three THE POLAR EXPRESS Train Ride excursions each day at 3:30, 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. PST.

Photo Courtesy: Mt. Rainier Railroad and Logging Museum
Photo Courtesy: Mt. Rainier Railroad and Logging Museum

Tickets for THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride are now on sale through the MRRR website, or by calling the railroad’s toll-free reservations hotline, seven days a week, at (888) STEAM-11 (783-2611)

16 thoughts on “All aboard THE POLAR EXPRESS Train Ride in Elbe, WA”

  1. Oh this sounds like the perfect holiday excursion! We have similar train rides here on the east coast. What is it about a train ride that just oozes holiday cheer?


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