Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Polar Express

Last summer, after we rode the Smoky Mountain Railroad, we decided we'd try to make it back up for their Polar Express train.  Tickets bought, plans were made.  And finally, the weekend arrived.  A speedy departure after a half day at school ensured our arrival for a 6:30 ride.  We checked in our suite at Fryemont Inn, changed into jammies and headed down the mountain to the station.

Saying "All Aboard" instead of cheese!

All jammied out
We had hoped for some snow, but the south would not provide anything but 60ish weather and drizzle.  But it did nothing to dampen the Christmas spirit! Especially when the train rolled in!

We boarded the train (trust me, it's worth the extra to upgrade your ride).  The kids all had their "ticket to ride!" Quite authentic!

Loving his ticket, and as the conductor says, "These tickets are non-transferable!"

Not the best O'Day family photo, but there was A LOT going on on the train!

Mommy and Daddy on the Polar Express

Grandma and B in his Polar Express train hat

Enjoying the hot chocolate

And cookies

And here he comes!!  He had the best hole punch,  making clicky clicky sounds just like the movie.  Brant wanted him to  punch LE, but that was a bit much for a train full of kiddos

Checking out his punches

Pretending to punch his ticket
As the ride progressed , they played the story of the Polar Express, and the hot chocolate waitresses, dressed in chef coats and hats, walked up and down the aisles with the books, to see the pictures.  Pretty soon we passed a sign that said, "North Pole City Limits."  The hot chocolate waitresses narrated the ride for us, as we passed the hot chocolate storage tank (a large gas tank on the city outskirts) and the small town of Whittier had all their main street homes and businesses decorated in lights. The town hall even had a sign over it that said, "North Pole Recreation Center" where the elves play bingo.  We passed the homes of Jack Frost (all blue) Santa and Mrs. Claus, the reindeer, Grinch (post-Grinchness) and Scrooge (an old mill with one light on).  And then.  Oh, then.  There was a field filled with Christmas trees and decorations.  And a sleigh and who was on it? Santa!!

The train slowed a bit further down the track, and then there was a bump.  And Santa was aboard!  We didn't seen him yet, but when we went back by the sleigh, it was empty!

He's coming!

Almost here!

Brantley getting his "First gift of Christmas," the bell from Santa's sleigh (very nicely engraved with Polar Express)

Quite pleased
 A bit later Santa came back through for a photo op with each and every child.  If you know Brant you know that he will have nothing to do with Santa in real life. So this is a momentous occasion.  Santa was actually touching him!  But as you see by the eyes, Brant was making sure Daddy wasn't going anywhere!

The ride back was full of the train car singing carols and lots of Christmas fun.  We can't believe they did such a great job, incorporating as much of the book into the ride as they could.  There was even the hobo's camp set up!  The O'Day family left the train full of Christmas spirit and fun! Brant asked, "Did we really go to the North Pole?"  We decided the ride was a bit too short to get all the way there. Brant's replay, "I know, it was the North Carolina Pole!"

A quick stop in front of the large ticket..
But the weekend was not over!

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