Note: In exchange for an unbiased review of the Polar Express train and amusement park at Edaville USA, I received two free tickets for the train and admission to the park.
The Polar Express by Rhode Islander Chris Van Allsburg is one of the most magical Christmas books I have ever read.
Naturally, when I had the chance to review a Polar Express train ride at a Massachusetts amusement park, I jumped at the opportunity.
Last Tuesday, December 14, I picked up the Pooh from school, changed her into her pajamas (with layers underneath), and drove an hour from Providence to Edaville USA in Carver, MA.
Pajamas, you ask? If you remember, the kids in the Polar Express all ride the train to the North Pole wearing their pajamas, so the folks at Edaville encourage everyone, particularly the kids, to wear theirs to replicate the experience. So I added layers under the Pooh’s jammies, and made sure she had other winter gear with her, since the majority of the park is experienced outdoors.
The Pooh and I arrived at Edaville at sunset, and there was no fee to park in the open lot, which was nice. We walked to the ticket gate, where we picked up our passes for the Polar Express, which included admission to the entire park.
We walked past a lovely old carousel with a gorgeous Wurlitzer organ playing the music for the ride, and decided to save it for our way out, as the Pooh was pulling on my hand in her eagerness to see the rest.
We followed a walkway around a lake, and were delighted by the Christmas lights we saw everywhere – hanging in the trees, decorating the grounds, and greeting us across the water. We could hear the whistle of the steam train in the distance, and the Pooh jumped up and down with excitement as we kept walking towards the main area.
There, we found rides galore, as well as the train depot, a two story building with bumper cars and rides and an arcade inside, a cafeteria style restaurant, snack kiosks, and a candy store.
At the train depot, we arrived at 4:45 pm for the 5:00 pm train and presented our tickets. In exchange, the Pooh received a large yellow Polar Express ticket, which I held for her. As we boarded the train, we waved to the bearded conductor outside. We ended up in the first car, right behind the engine.
Each car was simple, clean, and heated, with long wooden benches lining on each side. Large windows allowed everyone to see the Christmas lights outside, regardless of age or size.
Once we were all settled, the train left the station for the North Pole.
We all received hot chocolate and a chocolate chip cookie. The hot chocolate was welcome on the cold night. We were served by a white coated attendant with a tall white chef cap, who was very kind and attentive to the kids and parents.
As our trip to the North Pole rolled along, the attendant took out a large copy of the Polar Express. The intercom came on and a voice started to recite the text of the book as the attendant walked through the car, showing the pages as they were read.
After a while, we arrived at the North Pole, where we saw a tall tower with a red light at the top. The train stopped. The train car door opened and Santa himself boarded!
Since we were in the first car behind the engine, he greeted our car first.
Everyone was delighted. He welcomed all of us to the North Pole, and then took out a sleigh bell. He held it up and proclaimed, “The first gift of Christmas!”
He then went down the car, greeting each child and family, and took pictures with anyone who asked. He gave a sleigh bell to each child. He was warm and fun, a right jolly good elf.
The train started to move again, and Santa left our car and continued down the train to greet families in other cars. We admired all of the Christmas lights out of the windows as we rolled along. There was a brief stop, and then the train continued along so we could see more lights, eventually returning us back to our normal world and the park.
The entire ride took about 50 minutes, and everyone was smiling as we disembarked.
“What did you think?” I asked the Pooh, my train loving, Santa loving, Christmas loving girl.
“It was SO MUCH FUN!” she exclaimed, and rang her sleigh bell for emphasis. So there you have it.
Fortunately, it was still early in the evening, not even 6 pm, so we had time to explore the rest of the park after our train ride.
The Pooh absolutely loved the Polar Express and Edaville USA, and we’ll be going back.
Special thanks to Nicky Estrella of Rhody Bloggers for facilitating our visit. You can find her on Instagram @weplayyouplay, on Twitter at @weplayyouplay, and as a blogger at PlayingAllTheWay.com.
Thank you as well to Jill Godley of Edaville USA, who arranged for our complimentary tickets in exchange for this review.
Visiting Edaville USA
For more information and tickets please visit http://www.edaville.com