We all have our own special Christmas Eve traditions and one of ours is to watch The Polar Express film, before leaving our treats out for Santa and his reindeer. This was started back in 2014, when we rode the Polar Express in Dartmoor, whilst staying at CoombeMill.
This year, Sebby asked if we could go on the Polar Express again as he didn’t really remember it from last time, so when I saw it advertised at Swanage I decided to book tickets for their last train on Christmas Eve.
We arrived nice and early, clothed in our pyjama’s (with a couple of extra layers underneath) and joined the short queue to be let into the station.
It is recommended you arrive 30 minutes before your departure to take in the full show, which includes recieving your golden ticket before moving to the platform, where actors, singers and dancers performing music from the show, which really add to the magic of the day.
You are assigned a carriage when you book, and we were at the head of the train on Rudolph and you can just imagine the excitement when one of Swanage Railway’s famous steam train pulled up at the platform to a flurry of snow.
The attention to detail is second to none, with the Polar Express sign emblazoned on the side of the train and the carriages all decorated in their best Christmas decorations.
Once you’re settled in to your seats onboard, the experience really begins. The hosts on our carriage were Carol and Marge, who got the show underway with a series of challenges to get us warmed up. We were definitely the loudest carriage!!
One of the kids favourite part of the film is the hot chocolate song and as the chef’s sang and danced through the carriage, we were all given a hot chocolate and a huge cookie.
A ride on the Polar Express is a theatre show, with visits from characters such as Hero Boy and Hero Girl, the Conductor and the Hobo, as well as the hosts, who keep things moving.
Activities included writing a letter to Santa, writing a Christmas wish and singing Christmas carols (badly in Dad’s case).
As we reached Corfe Castle, we found ourselves at the North Pole, where we stopped to see the elves performing on the platform. This was possibly the one disappointing part of the event as it was still quite light, so we didn’t get the full effects of all the lights.
The stop at the North Pole saw us change direction and head back towards Swanage, but it also saw the arrival of a special visitor onboard – Father Christmas, who gifted each passenger their very own sleigh bell, just like the film.
The experience on the train is approximately an hour long, so the whole thing takes around 2 hours if you want to visit the gift shop and pose for photo’s.
We are yet to know if The Polar Express will be back in Swanage for Christmas 2024, but if it is, book it – it’s brilliant and a great introduction to early theatre with the kids.
Disclaimer: We booked and paid for tickets for the Polar Express ourselves. All thoughts and opinions are our own