Experience the magic this holiday season! Join us for a truly magical recreation of the classic holiday story, THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride. Climb aboard one of our powerful locomotives and historic train cars as it departs our Bryson City Depot for the North Pole to pick up Santa Claus himself. Upon arriving at our depot, you’ll be immersed in the story as our chefs serve you hot chocolate and sweet treats while singing and dancing all the way to the Pole! On the return trip to Bryson City, Santa will visit each coach and hand out the first gift of Christmas to each child.
First told in the award-winning book by Chris Van Allsburg, this is the story of a child’s Christmas Eve journey. It was adapted to the big screen in 2003. And now it comes alive each year with THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride! All ages can enjoy the experience, warmth, and fun of the Christmas season on a special steam train trip to the North Pole! Certain dates and car types will sell quickly so you’ll want to book soon to reserve your preferred seating!
THE POLAR EXPRESS™ with the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad is back in 2023! The 1¼ hour round-trip passenger excursion comes to life as the train departs the Bryson City depot for a journey through the quiet wilderness for a special visit at the North Pole. Set to the sounds of the motion picture soundtrack, guests on board will enjoy warm cocoa and a treat while listening and reading along with the magical story. Children’s faces show the magic of the season when the train arrives at the North Pole to find Santa Claus waiting. Santa will board THE POLAR EXPRESS™, greeting each child and presenting them with a special gift as in the story, their own silver sleigh bell. Christmas carols will be sung as they return back to the Bryson City Depot.
First Class features interior carpet and plush furniture along with new exterior paint and detailing to highlight the cars authenticity. Large windows and climate control for comfort. Table tops of 4 and 2 are available. You may be seated at a table of 4 if your party is 2. All guests will receive a specialty treat, a cookie, and warm cocoa served in a THE POLAR EXPRESS™ souvenir mug! Also guests will receive one souvenir tote per reservation. Make your reservation now!
Premium Crown Class features windows that are able to open for fresh-air, ceiling fans and heat for cooler evenings. These classic cars will transport you into the movie with their restored wooden interiors resembling the train from the film. Booth seats are arranged in sets of four with two facing each other. All guests will receive a specialty treat, a cookie, and warm cocoa served in a souvenir THE POLAR EXPRESS™ tumbler by the car’s friendly POLAR EXPRESS staff! Make your reservation now!
Crown Class features climate control for comfort, large picture windows for optimal viewing, and easily accessible restrooms. Seats are arranged in sets of four with two facing each other. This is wonderful for families or parties who wish to stay grouped together throughout the duration of their ride. All guests receive a cookie and warm cocoa served in a souvenir THE POLAR EXPRESS™ tumbler. Make your reservation now!
Coach Class features windows that are able to open for fresh-air, ceiling fans and heat for cooler evenings. Seats are arranged in sets of four with two facing each other. A cookie and warm cocoa is served to guests by the car’s friendly POLAR EXPRESS chef! Make your reservation now!
Make sure to bring the experience home and keep a reminder for years to come.
Our exclusive line of THE POLAR EXPRESS ™ products has been meticulously developed to insure the highest quality. These products are only available through our official THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride hosts or on www.raileventsretail.com.
Exclusive Pre-Sale Blanket! Only available through purchase online during ticket reservation process.
100% Polyester, Blanket Size: 50″ x 60″
Pick up your very own copy of the classic novel that started it all, The Polar Express. Your special gift will be gift wrapped and signed by Santa Claus.
The Polar Bear Plush will delight all ages and comes wrapped up in their very own scarf and beanie set. 12” of pure cuddliness.
This bundle includes our Polar Express blanket and the softest little blue bear to cuddle up with.
100% Polyester, Blanket Size: 50″ x 60″
This bundle comes with an exclusive blanket only available when purchased in advance. This bundle also includes a 7” Snowman Plush and an 8oz souvenir tumbler that can be filled with FREE COCOA at our café located on the depot deck on the day of your ride!
Grab hold of your ticket and don’t let go! This fun souvenir will be a reminder all year long of the kid in all of us and the power of belief.
All of our general passenger excursions, special event trains, and activities depart from the historic Bryson City Depot in Bryson City, North Carolina. Various destinations depend on your route selection. All trains are round-trip and will return to the Bryson City depot.
Yes, we have restrooms available to everyone throughout the train.
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad is not afraid of a little winter weather! All trains, including special event trains, operate through winter weather. Of course, we want all of our guests to remain safe on their travels. In the event that the North Carolina Highway Patrol or Department of Motor Vehicles deems travel unsafe on Interstate 40 or Highway 74 resulting in a closure, please call our reservations staff at 1-800-872-4681 for further details and instructions. The option of rescheduling is always available at a nominal fee as well as the option for overnight accommodations. For information regarding US 441 please click this link for the most up-to-date information: https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/temproadclose.htm
On vintage rail cars, accommodations for passengers with special needs are limited. We ask that the passengers desiring to ride on a special event train contact reservations personally so that other arrangements can be made. Boarding assistance with golf carts is available to accommodate guests who have limited walking or standing capabilities. Please call 800-872-4681 to speak with a GSMR representative who can assist in arranging and making reservations for your visit.
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. Intoxicated passengers or those found in possession of alcohol will be removed from the event without a refund. This is a zero-tolerance policy.
Passengers riding THE POLAR EXPRESS™ are encouraged to dress warm for weather. Pajamas can be worn but closed toe shoes are required.
You can check availability and get a quote without purchasing tickets through the online reservation system, or you can call our Reservations Office and they will be glad to check on available seating at 1-800-872-4681.
We highly recommend booking reservations in advance as tickets do sell out quickly. To check times and availability click here or call our reservations office 800-872-4681.
This round-trip journey to the North Pole and back to Bryson City, NC is a 1 1/4 hour experience. We ask that guests arrive 1 hour prior to excursion time to pick up train tickets.
You can click here for information regarding area lodging that we recommend or call us for details about our packages with convenient lodging establishments in the area. For information on area lodging you can call the Smoky Mountain Host for a guide book 800.432.4678, or call the respective Chambers of Commerce; Jackson County (Dillsboro) 800.962.1911 and Swain County (Bryson City) 800.867.9246.
Child tickets are available to those between the ages of 2 and 12 years old, and infant tickets are available to those 23 months and younger. Anyone 13 years or older are considered adults, for ticket pricing purposes only.
At GSMR, we utilize e-Ticketing software and with the email address provided on the reservation, tickets will be sent via email.
Normal travel time from Gatlinburg to our Bryson City Depot is 2 to 2.5 hours via US 441. Travel time during peak periods (usually July, October, and holiday weekends) may be significantly longer. For US 441 weather updates please use this link: https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/temproadclose.htm
Parking is conveniently located across the street from the Bryson City Depot at: 45 Mitchell Street, Bryson City, NC. Parking fees are already charged to your reservation. For RVs a $16.00 cash parking fee is required per RV. Limited handicap parking is available. There is two-hour street parking around Bryson City, but please keep in mind that your train adventure may take more than two hours. We encourage all passengers to take advantage of our convenient all-day parking.
Smoking is not permitted onboard any train at any time. We have designated smoking areas at all depots and layover locations.
Passengers with gluten or dairy allergies can substitute the cookie for either a gluten free Rice Krispie treat or dairy free Veggie Straws (Sea Salt).
Rice Krispie ingredients: Marshmallow (Glucose Syrup, Sugar, Modified Food Starch [Corn], Gelatin, Water, Vanilla Flavor), Gluten Free Crisp Rice (Rice, Brown Sugar, Salt) Sugar, Brown Butter (Cream, Salt), Sea Salt, Vanilla Flavor.
Veggie Straw ingredients: Potato Starch, Potato Flour, Expeller Pressed Canola oil and/or Safflower Oil and/or Sunflower Oil, Spinach Powder, Tomato Paste, salt, Cane Sugar, Corn Starch, Potassium Chloride, Turmeric (color), Beetroot Powder (color), Sea Salt.
Sugar, Corn Syrup, Modified Whey, Dutch Cocoa (Processed with Alkali), Hydrogenated Coconut Oil, Sodium Caseinate, ( milk derivative), Salt, Dipotassium Phosphate, Mono and Diglycerides, Sodium Aluminosilicate, Natural Flavor. CONTAINS MILK.
A full range of exclusive THE POLAR EXPRESS™ gifts and keepsakes will be available for purchase at the event. The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad Gift Shop is located just feet away from the welcome tent and boarding area.
Yes. In order to offer the best experience for all guests, seating is assigned on board THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride. You will select your own seats during the online checkout process as you would on an airline.
In order to ensure that our guests can have the most enjoyable the experience together, our seating policy requires that all guests in a single party may only reserve tickets in adjacent seats. Reservations not in adjacent seats may be cancelled at GSMR’s discretion.
You may cancel your reservation in full or in part and receive a refund less a $14.00 fee per adult ticket and $6.00 fee per child ticket as late as 60 days before departure. Within 60 days of the departure the reservation becomes nonrefundable. You may reschedule any time prior to your originally scheduled departure with a $7.00 fee per ticket for another date within the same calendar year. You may not reschedule a reservation after the scheduled departure.
Ticket fares subject to 7% Historic Preservation Fee. Schedules, fares, motive power, equipment, seat selection, and meals are subject to change without notice. We guarantee the class of service you select. You will be notified if a change in schedule or motive power affects your reservation. Payment in full at booking by major credit card is required to finalize a reservation. You may cancel your reservation in full or in part and receive a refund less a $14.00 fee per adult ticket and $7.00 fee per child ticket as late as 60 days before departure. Within 60 days of the departure the reservation becomes nonrefundable. You may reschedule any time prior to your originally scheduled departure with a $7.00 fee per ticket for another date within the same calendar year. You may not reschedule a reservation after the scheduled departure. No exceptions are made for weather, illness, or road closures.
Whipped Topping Ingredients – Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Palm, Palm Kernel, Coconut, and/or Cottonseed) Contains less than 2% of the following; Sodium Caseinate (A milk derivative, not a source of lactose) Destrose, Artificial Flavor, Polysorbate 60, Sorbitan Monosterate, Guar Gum, Xanthan Gum, Colored with Turmeric and Annatoo Extract. CONTAINS: MILK.
Hot Cocoa Mix Ingredients: Sugar, Whey, Corn Syrup Solids, Non-Dairy Creamer [Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Coconut and/or Soybean Oils), Corn Syrup Solids, Sodium Caseinate (a Milk Derivataive), Dipotassium Phosphate, Sugar, Mono-and Diglycerides, Silicon Dioxide, Sodium Steroyl Lactylate, Soy Lecithin, Artificial Flavors, Colored with (Annatto, Turmeric)]. Cocoa processed with Alkali, Maltodextrin, Creamer [Whey, Nonfat Dry Milk, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Dipotassium Phosphate, Monoglycerides], Cocoa Salt, Sodium Aluminosilicate (to prevent caking). Tri Calcium Phosphate, Cellulose Gum, Natural and Artificial Flavor, CONTAINS: Milk and Soy
Based on THE POLAR EXPRESS book and characters trademarked and copyright 1985 by Chris Van Allsburg. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved. THE POLAR EXPRESS and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and © & ™ Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.(s20)
You agree that THE POLAR EXPRESS™ event (the “Event”) for which you purchased tickets and/or attended is a public event, that your appearance and actions inside and outside the venue where the Event occurs are public in nature, and that you have no expectation of privacy with regard to your actions or conduct at the Event. You hereby irrevocably grant permission to the Event’s host railroad, licensor, sponsor(s) and/or their assigns to use, copy, display, distribute, exhibit and utilize your name, image, digital image, likeness, acts, poses, voice, appearance, movements and statements in any live or recorded audio, video or photographic display or other transmission, exhibition, publication or reproduction of same, including at the Event (regardless of whether before, during or after the Event) for any purpose, in any manner, in any medium or context now known or hereafter developed without further authorization from or any compensation to you or anyone acting or entitled to act on your behalf.