Lonely Planet Writer

All aboard The Polar Express as the Maine ride celebrates its 10th anniversary this winter

The Polar Express train ride at the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company and Museum in Portland is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this holiday season, with the popular service beginning this week.

The popular ride celebrates it's 10-year anniversary this holiday season.
The popular ride celebrates it’s 10-year anniversary this holiday season. Image by Jill Brady/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Drawing over 13,000 visitors every year, the experience sees guests boarding the train at the Ocean Gateway Visitor Centre before being brought on a 1.5-mile journey along the Casco Bay. Throughout their time on board, visitors will get the chance to greet the conductor, enjoy hot chocolate and cookies, listen to stories being read and sing along with Christmas carols. At one point, Santa Claus greets passengers, with every child receiving a special bell as a souvenir of the event.

The experience takes guests on a 1.5-kilometre long journey along the Casco Bay. Image by Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company and Museum

“Our small narrow gauge train is not only historic, but adds a lot of charm to the experience because of its size. I think families really respond to that. The Polar Express is already a beloved story, but experiencing it with others really makes the spirits of the holiday season come to life. Our train is entirely staffed by volunteers and I think their enthusiasm and passion really carries over to the customer experience,” Allison Tevsh Zittel, Director of Finance and Marketing at Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company and Museum told Lonely Planet Travel News.

Passengers get the chance to drink hot chocolate and eat cookies and listen to stories being read as well as meeting Santa.
Passengers get the chance to drink hot chocolate, eat cookies and listen to stories being read as well as meeting Santa. Image by Andy Thrasher

Tickets for the experience are available now, with passengers being encouraged to make reservations as early as possible to avoid disappointment. Founded in 1992, the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company and Museum is a non-profit museum that works to educate the public and preserve historic equipment related to two-foot gauge railways in the region, and The Polar Express experience is the largest annual fundraiser for the institution. Tickets range from $29 – $45 per person, with both coach and first class seating options available.

More information on The Polar Express experience is available on the official Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company and Museum website.