We went to the North Pole

And it only took us about 20 minutes to get there on the Branson Scenic Railway.

Before I tell you about it, I have a message from our sponsor … er, something like that. : )

Pardon the interruption … Don’t forget to go here by Dec. 9 and enter for a chance to win an adorable flap book of animal babies and their mamas titled “Somewhere so Sleepy,” by Diane Muldrow, which retails at $7.99.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program …

We didn’t tell Beans we were going to ride the Polar Express in Branson until we were loading our bags into the car Saturday morning. To say he was excited is the understatement of the season.

Beans

He managed to reach some level of calm for the three-hour drive and then he and Tallulah were all atwitter about checking into the hotel and putting on their Christmas pajamas before we picked up our tickets.

Our train was to leave at 4:45, but we had to be at the ticket office by 3:45, and honestly I’m a little type A when it comes to worrying about things going wrong and disappointing the little people, so we got there even earlier – maybe 3:25. Which was maybe a mistake. Actually, in hindsight, maybe we should have gone earlier so we would have had time to find a warm spot to hang out for a while before the trip. The depot is tiny, and there were lots of excited kids (and their families, of course) there waiting to board, so we were all crowded on the platform in sub-freezing, wind-blowing cold for a loooong time.

T didn’t seem to mind so much.

It's cold. But who cares! I wanna walk!

She was probably just on some sort of adrenaline high from racing up and down the lobby of the big hotel across the street from the train station. We fled the crowded depot/gift shop when she got exceptionally squirmy and started demanding to “Walk!! WALK!!” We were told to be back at the depot no later than 4:30, though, because sometimes the train boarded early (On this day, I don’t think early was in the plans.).

Anyway, as we started to board, it started to snow and Beans wanted to know why it was snowing in just that one spot. “Is it real?!” he wanted to know. I shared my theory that that snow must have been leaking out of the box on the roof directly from the North Pole because we were so close.

Someone read an excerpt from The Polar Express as we started rolling, and someone else in a white coat and a tall red hat walked around showing us pictures in the book. Before long, we were each handed a cup of hot cocoa (I wouldn’t necessarily describe mine as tasting like melted chocolate as described in the book, but it was decent.) and a sugar cookie.

We were at the North Pole in no time.

Can you see the dancing, acrobatic elves? Beans was hoping we would get to leave the train and explore Santa's workshop, but we only got to look through the glass.

Really, we had prepared him for that reality, and he didn’t seem too let down that he had to stay put.

Besides the North Pole, we got to see some pretty scenery before it got dark, and after it got dark we ogled bookoodles of pretty Christmas lights, including the big drive-through display the city of Branson adds to each year.

Santa and an elf raced through our car a few times, stopping briefly to chat with some of the kids.

And have you been good this year?

Tallulah didn’t mind that he didn’t stick around. In fact, she might have broken my collarbone if he’d stayed a minute longer.

I was relieved that she relaxed her death grip when the jolly guy left our car.

Beans observed that the elf he saw with Santa was larger than the ones he saw on the movie and in the book. But, he reasoned, there are probably different sizes of elves at the North Pole because they each have different jobs to do and some jobs might be difficult for smaller elves to do. (Huh. That works for me.)

On one of their rushed trips through our part of the train, the larg-ish elf made sure each child got a bell – just like the kids in the book/movie.

Believe

One of our two bells has disappeared (hopefully temporarily). Beans says his sister’s is the one that’s missing. She’s not verbal enough to argue, so there you go.

We ate pizza after our train ride, our kids already cozy in their pajamas, and then we stopped in the plaza at Branson Landing (across from the depot) to watch the musical lighted fountain with the huge torchlights. Beans was mesmerized and wanted to stay all night. Matt and I were frozen, and Tallulah hated that fountain with a purple passion so we dragged him back to the hotel, where he quickly found something else to do.

Jumping from bed to bed is ... WHEEEEE!

I was excited about going on the train when I bought tickets a couple of months ago, and then as our trip approached I got nervous. I had read all those mixed reviews and I was worried that it wouldn’t be as much fun for Beans as I had hoped.

Overall, though, I would have to say that despite the cheese factor that might have colored the experience for the adults, for the kids – at least for my kid – it was magical. And really, I couldn’t have hoped for anything more than that.

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6 Responses to We went to the North Pole

  1. WOW, sounds like you guys had a great time. I was wondering about that but this year we just don’t have time for it.
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Heidi says:

    That sounds like an awesome time! You will cherish that sweet memory, I’m sure!

  3. Yavonda says:

    That sounds like a great time! I’m glad you guys got a chance to go — I’ll bet Beans will be talking about it forever!

  4. Arkie Mama says:

    I’ve been wondering what it’s like. My concern was that someone said you kept passing identifiable stores, which made the trip to the North Pole concept less plausible for the older kids. Is that true?

  5. kdishongh says:

    It was a lot of fun. I would have to suggest springing for the deluxe seats, though – with those, you’re seated at a table and you get an actual mug of (unlimited) hot cocoa and (unlimited) sugar cookies. Our one cup of cocoa was in a styrofoam cup and our cookie was on a napkin, which was fine, but still…
    Also, Santa apparently sticks around in those cars rather than just racing through.

  6. kdishongh says:

    ArkieMama – I guess it would really depend on the kid. We did pass a couple of the same places (like the big ol’ Bass Pro Shop) but once or twice that was just to switch tracks so you could explain that part. Once we started going, it was dark and we couldn’t really see what we were passing until we got to the Christmas lights. There was almost always something going on inside the car, though, so we didn’t spend a whole lot of time looking through the windows.

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