The POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride Insider Tips | Visit Rainier

The POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride Insider Tips

Approximately 40,000 people will visit the small town of Elbe to experience THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride at the Mt. Rainier Railroad. Join the crowd and kick off the holiday season! 


This is a 90-minute theatrical experience based on the best-selling children’s book and Academy Award-nominated animated film of the same name, THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride. Prepare to be entertained by chefs, enjoy hot chocolate and cookies, and listen to a reading of the children’s best-selling book, THE POLAR EXPRESS™. Upon arrival at the North Pole, Santa will board the train and give each child the first gift of Christmas: a silver bell.

Polar Express Train Ride



Tickets can be booked online at or over the phone by calling (360) 492-6000.

Polar Express Train Ride Fares

Polar Express Train Ride MugPrices range according to your arrival date and whether you choose to reserve seats in coach or first class. Standard cars feature seating similar to a 1950’s style Amtrak car with comfortable front-facing upholstered seats in paired rows. First Class cars feature table-and-chairs or booth seating which allows for parties of 4 to sit facing each other. In coach, hot chocolate is served in a disposable mug with a cookie. In first-class, tickets include a collector’s edition souvenir mug and cookie. The mug is exclusive to the event and cannot be found in stores.



Book a cabin or room at one of the inns near the train station. Plan to arrive the night before your train ride, this will give you time to explore the area. Visit Mount Rainier National Park to play in the snow, or take a guided trail ride at EZ Times Outfitters in Elbe. Despite winter weather you may want to pack a swimsuit for your overnight stay as many of the cabins and lodges have hot tubs.  There are several properties near the train station offering discounts and specials. Pro Tip, bring a copy of the movie with you to watch it the night before your train ride. 

Alexander's Lodge Altimeter Cabin Betsy's Cabins Copper Creek Inn
Mounthaven Resort Special National Park Inn Special Whittaker's Bunkhouse Special Wilderness Edge Cabin Special


  1. For the best view of the “North Pole” book odd-numbered seats. 
  2. Pay for parking at the time you reserve train tickets, print the parking pass at home and bring it with you. This will save you time at the train station. 
  3. Wear cozy pajamas to the train station to get in the spirit of the event but remember you’ll be standing outside prior to boarding the train so make sure you have layers to stay warm and footwear to keep tootsies dry. The train is heated so wearing layers is important.
  4. Give yourself plenty of time to get to the train station. You want to try and arrive 45 minutes early, for time to park, to check-in at the ticket window and enjoy the show prior to boarding.
  5. Book early. Weekends and peak dates close to December 25 are the first to sell out.
  6. If your kids are sensitive to noise, you may want to bring earplugs to help them cope with the volume level of loud train whistles.
  7. The train is wheelchair accessible. The lift at the train station can accommodate up to 600LBS. Be sure to mention you need wheelchair accessible seating when placing reservations.
  8. Watch the movie, the night before your train ride to have the songs fresh in mind for when you want to sing along during the onboard show. 
  9. Bring your own copy of the children’s book, The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg or buy a copy at the depot gift shop prior to departure.

The Polar Express Train Ride