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REVIEW: THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride – Perris & Fillmore, CA

THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride has come to Southern California for the first time at two different locations: Fillmore (Ventura County) and Perris (Inland Empire) this holiday season!

The theatrical ride event is organized by Rail Events Productions and licensed by Warner Bros., running in 48 locations in the U.S., Canada and Britain.

The magic of Christmas exists for those who believe. That’s the theme of The Polar Express, the beloved children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg that became a perennial favorite holiday movie featuring Tom Hanks.

In the story, a boy takes a train journey to the North Pole to rekindle his belief in Santa and since the book's publication, dozens of Polar Express trains have popped up across the U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom, offering families the opportunity to recreate the magical Polar Express experience, just like in the book and the movie.

THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride is officially licensed by Warner Bros. Consumer Products, and is a re-creation of the classic children’s story on board a real train in Southern California.

Set to the sounds of the motion picture soundtrack, passengers will relive the magic of the classic story as they are whisked away on THE POLAR EXPRESS™ for a magical, immersive trip to meet Santa at the North Pole featuring a large staff of energetic hosts who lead the train in an interactive, hour-long experience.

Once on board, your car hosts will work their way through the coach and punch your golden ticket before treats are served. Passengers are entertained non-stop by hostesses (songs from the movie), served hot chocolate and Snickerdoodles by dancing chefs, then enjoy a reading of the book by Chris Van Allsburg.

Kids will love it when they personally receive the first gift of Christmas (a silver sleigh bell) from Santa when he boards the train to greet families. Brightly dressed attendants also lead passengers in caroling and fun holiday activities on the return trip to the station.

Each coach is dressed in festive holiday décor with color-changing LED lighting synched to the activities on board. Each car features an identical seating configuration and experience. Basically, the event functions exactly the same on every car and all passengers enjoy the very same experience.

The train travels on a point-to-point route beginning and ending at the same station. It is important to note that the focus of the event is on the entertainment going on inside of the train, not the scenery outside.

The route itself is not decorated for Christmas, except for the “North Pole” area, where you can see busy elves scampering and dancing around. The inside of the train, however, is a mesmerizing experience that recreates the magic of THE POLAR EXPRESS™ with a cast of professional actors.

Event parking is available on site at the Southern California Railway Museum lot at 2201 S A St, Perris, CA 92570. It is required that guests arrive in either the Perris or Fillmore location approximately one hour prior to their departure time. This allows time to park and check in at Will Call.

A full range of exclusive THE POLAR EXPRESS™ gifts and keepsakes will be available for purchase at the event, and passengers can stay warm around the outdoor heaters available while waiting for departure. At the depot, there is The Polar Express™ souvenir shop, offering items such as snow globes, conductor hats, or even The Polar Express™ Train set, and more, accepting both cash or credit card.

Families are encouraged to wear pajamas just like the kids from “The Polar Express” book and movie, although passengers may be spending a half hour or so on an outdoor platform as they board and disembark from the train, so dress warm with appropriate outdoor attire in case of rain or chilly weather.

Wheelchair accessibility and lifts are available at our Perris location. If a member of your party has a disability and needs wheelchair space on board the train, please contact a reservations representative at (702) 357-3526 to select the appropriate wheelchair/companion seats.

These Christmas trains are wildly popular and tickets are expected to sell out quickly for this event, so it is recommended that reservations are made as soon as your group knows which date and time you would like to attend.

Trains depart the Southern California Railway Museum in Perris, CA between November 30th and December 29th. Online tickets and booking is available at

Chris Daniels

Arts Reviewer

The Show Report


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