Ticket to Ride

Holiday Things to Do in Mount Dora

As a kid, did you ever wish you could hop into the pages of your favorite book or live out the tale of your favorite movie in real life?

The Polar Express Train Ride

This winter, The Polar Express Train Ride offers the chance to do just that with a truly magical experience based on the beloved 1985 classic illustrated book, and more recently the animated film, of the same name.

For a dazzling trip to the North Pole, all you have to do is hop on board The Polar Express in Mount Dora, but the real fun lies in the journey itself. Your trip fully immerses you in the same experience as the 2004 film starring Tom Hanks. In fact, this ride is licensed by Warner Bros. so your train ride is a music-filled theatrical recreation of the movie. When you arrive for check-in, you will head into a building to get your photo taken and receive your golden ticket for boarding. Be sure to arrive early because your next activity will be a live show that kicks off the story.

Your Magical Holiday Experience

You are transported to the bedroom of the main character, a young boy who finds that lately he’s having a hard time believing in the magic of Christmas and Santa Claus. He awakens to a mysterious train pulling right up to his window. He hops out of bed and runs right outside in his pajamas, inviting you to come with him! The crowd of soon-to-be passengers follows him outside and to everyone’s surprise, an actual, full-size train really has appeared right there in the parking lot!

To fully immerse yourself in the experience and jolly fun, passengers of all ages are encouraged to wear their pajamas on board as if you have also just hopped out of bed. Once you’re on board the colorfully lit glowing train, the train’s conductor stops by to inspect your ticket and it is punched with a letter. You’ll find out the meaning of your letter at the end of the ride – I can’t give away too many surprises!

Piping hot cocoa and fresh-baked cookies are served by the on-board chefs, complete with a hot cocoa song and dance. You’ll spend your ride interacting with each of the story’s characters, including the main children who board The Polar Express, the conductor and engineers responsible for keeping the train running (and clearing a few wandering caribou off the tracks!) and even the mischievous hobo who refers to himself The King of the Polar Express and may or may not be a ghost.

The hobo is the first person to reveal that maybe you don’t believe in the true magic of Christmas as much as you thought, with a jingle bell from Santa’s sleigh that only true believers can hear. As he shakes the silent bell, you realize it’s up to you to find the true meaning of Christmas through the rest of your trip to the North Pole.

If all of this sounds completely foreign to you, as it did to my husband who has never seen the film, not to worry; you will read the book together on the train during a fun story time. I highly recommend seeing the film before your trip though, as you will see just how similar your experience is. The train ride goes all out complete with actors that are the spitting image of the film’s characters to truly replicate the story. Although the North Pole is an awfully long way from us here in Florida, the magic of the train plus all the fun you’ll be having makes it feel like it’s only an hour.

Once you arrive, Santa and his elves climb on board for more fun and Santa presents each guest with the first gift of Christmas – a jingle bell right from his sleigh. This time, the bell rings! After making the trip to the North Pole for yourself, it’s hard not to believe in the magic of Christmas! Your trip back home is filled with Christmas carols, leaving you filled with the joy of the holidays.

This Christmas is our 9-month-old daughter Avery’s first, so this trip was filled with a lot of new things for her – her first train ride, visit with Santa, even her first bite of cookie! It’s safe to say that no one was more excited to be on board than Avery; she clapped and danced along with every song and took in every moment with enamored interest. She clutched her sleigh bell from Santa all the way home, shaking it softly back and forth to hear it ring.

This event is absolutely meant for families, as kids will adore experiencing the classic holiday tale. I’m not saying that adults can’t enjoy the trip – our favorite part was watching Avery’s eyes light up and hearing the countless squeals when Santa appeared – but you will have to use your imagination and jump head-first into the holiday fun. There are no grumpy Scrooges allowed here! I have a feeling this ride will make a believer out of even the grinchiest, though…

The Polar Express Train Ride

305 E Ruby Street – Tavares, FL

Available November 9 – December 30, 2018

TheFloridaTrain.com (352) 742-7200

Standard coach class – $34.97 and up

Custom coach class – $54.97 and up

First class – $64.97 and up

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