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Maine Narrow Gauge's POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride has run its last trip to the North Pole for the 2023 season. Stay tuned for details of the 2024 POLAR EXPRESS!
Car 1: First Class: 16 seats + 4 accessible spots
Car 2: First Class: 25 seats
Car 3: First Class: 24 seats
Car 4: Presidential Class: 18 seats
Car 5: First Class: 10 seats
Car 5: Coach Class: 24 seats
Car 6: Coach Class: 48 seats
Car 7: Coach Class: 48 seats
Car 8: Coach Class: 44 seats
Car 9: Coach Class: 30 seats
The Polar Express™ will run on select dates in November and December of 2024.
The Polar Express™ Train Ride is the largest annual fundraiser for the non-profit Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum. This theatrically-driven holiday train has become an annual tradition for thousands of families, drawing over 21,000 passengers in 2022!
The fun begins at Portland's Ocean Gateway Marine Terminal, warm and glowing with festive holiday cheer. The Conductor arrives and leads passengers onto the nine historic passenger coaches decked out for the holidays. Once on board, magical chefs and stewards serve hot chocolate and cookies. Christmas music fills the cars as the steam locomotive blows its whistle, the wheels start turning, and your roundtrip ride begins to the North Pole. You never know what - or who - you'll encounter along the way!
Presidential Class details: Passengers riding “Presidential Class” receive our most deluxe level of service! These passengers enjoy reserved premium individual cushioned seating in an exquisite 1880s-era train car, get a commemorative limited-edition ceramic mug to remember their train ride, and can take home a copy of the Polar Express book that has been signed by Santa Claus, on loan from the North Pole Library. (1 copy per grouping of 4 [or fewer] guests).
First Class passengers get to ride in one of Maine Narrow Gauge’s restored turn-of-the-century train cars (with reserved individual padded seating), as well as receive a limited-edition ceramic mug as a unique souvenir of their train ride to the North Pole.
All passengers get the experience of riding on a brilliantly decorated train powered by an authentic steam engine, as well as receive hot chocolate, a cookie, a brief visit from Santa, and for kids, the first gift of Christmas – a silver sleigh bell.
Are you interested in volunteering? Please contact Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad if you want to play a part of this very special magical event! Contact Volunteer@MaineNarrowGauge.org.
Be ready to board at least 20 minutes prior to the train's departure! The Polar Express™ Train Ride leaves exactly on time. The train must leave on time in order to reach the North Pole before Christmas!
An entire train car may be rented for your party, depending on availability. However, no group discount is available at this time.
Ticketing terms: all tickets are non-refundable and non-exchangeable. Tickets cannot be refunded or exchanged for reasons including, but not limited to, illness, weather, traffic, or a change in the ticketed party's plans. All ticket sales are final. The ticketing party agrees to abide by all Maine Narrow Gauge rider terms and conditions.
What dates and times does the Polar Express™ run in 2024?
We operate on select dates in November and December. Departure times depend on the day, with most departures taking place in the mid-afternoon to evening.
How much is pricing?
Presidential Class: $100 per person | First Class: $60 per person | Coach Class: $35 per person
What are your COVID-19 protocols?
We are following all city, state, and federal guidelines for the safe operation of The Polar Express Train Ride™. For the latest info, please visit Maine.gov/covid19.
Do you offer matinee trips?
Yes, on select days. Matinee trips offer an opportunity for those with small children to enjoy an earlier departure. Please note that given the presence of sunlight, the North Pole and nighttime illumination will not be available. Matinee train rides are a great choice for families with young children who wish to experience the Polar Express™ Train Ride and have time for an early dinner and bedtime. Aside from it being daylight, all other aspects of this magical train ride remain the same.
Is there will-call? Can I purchase tickets at the box office?
There is no will-call for 2023. Tickets are ONLY available online through eTix. All passengers should receive an email with a link to view and download the tickets. Please bring your ticket, or a mobile device with your ticket on it, to the train ride.
What is at the terminal?
The terminal at Portland's Ocean Gateway is where you'll find a well-stocked gift shop, restrooms, and the gathering point before each train departure.
Are any food or beverages served on the train?
Each passenger receives a complimentary cup of hot, hot chocolate, plus a delicious cookie! First Class and Presidential Class passengers get a limited-edition commemorative ceramic mug with their ticket.
What happens on the train ride?
Before the train departs, passengers are served hot, hot chocolate and each given a cookie by magical Chefs. The steam engine pushes the cheerfully-decorated train from the station all the way to the North Pole!
Along the way, passengers hear a telling of the timeless Polar Express story by Chris Van Allsburg while passing beautiful illuminated displays.
Once the train arrives at the North Pole, a very special guests boards the train, greets every passenger, and gives every child on the train their first gift of Christmas – a silver sleigh bell.
On the return trip, Santa's elves and train stewards lead the train in carols and singalongs, creating cherished memories that will last a lifetime.
What is the difference between ticket classes?
Presidential Class is our most deluxe level of service on a beautifully-restored 1880s-era train car. These passengers enjoy reserved premium cushioned individual seating, each gets a limited-edition commemorative ceramic mug, and every grouping of 4 (or fewer) receives a copy of the Polar Express book by Chris Van Allsburg, signed by Santa Claus, on loan from the North Pole Library.
First Class tickets give each rider a ride on a turn-of-the-century restored train car (with reserved individual padded seating) and a commemorative limited-edition ceramic mug.
Coach Class tickets give each rider a general admission ride on the festive train.
All passengers receive a cup of "hot, hot chocolate" and a cookie treat. Kids get to take home a sweet-sounding silver sleigh bell.
How is seating different between the service levels?
Coach Class is mostly long wooden benches that run the length of each Coach Class train car. Note that the benches run along the walls of each coach and face inward toward the car's interior. Coach Class seating is general admission, first-come, first-served on each departure.
First Class is a mix of old-fashioned 1x1 "railroad-style" individual padded chairs or padded armchairs. These seats are parallel to the windows.
Presidential Class is entirely contemporary padded armchairs, parallel to the windows. Chairs may be repositioned to each guest's desire.
Is parking provided?
Maine Narrow Gauge does not provide parking, but free street parking and a number of lots are available in a short walking distance. Visit PortlandMaine.gov for parking information.
Does the train operate in all weather?
Yes, the Polar Express™ operates rain, snow, or shine. Please be sure to dress for the weather on your trip. It is extremely unusual for a departure to be canceled due to weather, but check your email before your train ride, just in case.
What if my plans change or I become ill before the train ride?
Unfortunately, all tickets are non-exchangeable, non-transferrable, and non-refundable. This includes if the train is operational but the guest for any reason chooses not to ride or is prevented from attending their scheduled departure.
What if I miss my scheduled departure?
The Polar Express operates on a very tight schedule. All trains leave exactly on time. No latecomers can be admitted, and no refunds, exchanges, or vouchers can be given for guests who miss their scheduled departure for any reason. Please plan to arrive 30 minutes before your departure time.
Can the train accommodate wheelchairs?
Yes, our platform is equipped with a wheelchair lift. The train has 4 ADA-accessible seats per departure.
Does Santa come on the train?
Yes! The train stops briefly at the North Pole, where Santa and his helpers board the train. Santa will make his way through all the train cars and greet each guest. Please be advised that due to the number of riders who Santa wants to meet, he will be unable to stop and pose for individual photos.
Does my lap child require a seat?
Children age 2 and under who sit on a lap do not require their own paid ticket. However, if the child requires a seat of their own to sit in, a ticket is required.
How long does the trip last?
The Polar Express trip lasts for approximately 50 minutes.
What does the cost of the ticket cover?
The Polar Express train ride is the biggest annual fundraiser for Maine Narrow Gauge. Tickets help ensure that our non-profit organization can continue preserving and operating Maine's historic two-foot narrow gauge railroad equipment for the enjoyment and education of the public.
What kind of cookies are served on the Polar Express?
During your train ride, you will enjoy all butter "finger" shortbread cookies provided by Walker's Shortbread. Walker's Shortbread cookies are baked in Scotland and have a delicious crunchy yet crumbly texture achieved through a 125-year-old family recipe, using only four of the finest natural ingredients. Find out more at us.walkersshortbread.com.
What are the cookie ingredients?
Wheat flour (wheat flour, calcium carbonate, iron, niacin, thiamin), butter (milk) (32%), sugar, salt.
What are the hot chocolate ingredients?
Water, sugar, cocoa, coffee, cinnamon, natural flavor, sea salt.
How can I participate on the Polar Express as a volunteer?
Volunteers make the Polar Express train ride happen! Please email Volunteer@MaineNarrowGauge.org if you'd like to be part of this very special event.
I have a question about ticketing. Who can I contact?
All questions related to ticketing can be directed to eTix. Please call toll-free at 1-800-514-3849. Hours: Monday-Saturday 9am to 8pm EST. Sundays: 12pm to 8pm EST.
Terms of Service
- The Boarding Platform CLOSES AT THE LISTED DEPARTURE TIME. No passengers will be allowed to board the train after this time.
- Tickets are nonrefundable and nonexchangeable.
- Tickets are valid only for the date, time, car, and seat (if applicable) shown on the ticket. Purchaser acknowledges that they have individually selected their seats. Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company & Museum (“Maine Narrow Gauge”) is not responsible for errors in seating.
- Maine Narrow Gauge and its agents reserve the right to refuse service or de-board passengers for disruptive or offensive behavior.
- Maine Narrow Gauge does not guarantee an allergen-free environment.
- Passengers are prohibited from bringing alcoholic beverages or weapons onto the event grounds.
- Smoking is not allowed on THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride event grounds or on board the train (this includes e-cigarettes and other similar devices).
- Maine Narrow Gauge does not accept liability for loss or damage suffered by the ticket user.
- Your ticket purchase and/or participation in any train-related departure/event grants Maine Narrow Gauge, its advertising partners, officers, and employees permission to use your image, voice, and/or likeness as follows in its promotional materials: Maine Narrow Gauge shall have the right to photograph, publish, re-publish, adapt, exhibit, perform, reproduce, edit, modify, make derivative works, distribute, display or otherwise use or reuse the attendee’s image, voice, and/or likeness in connection with any product or service in all markets, media or technology now known or hereafter developed in Maine Narrow Gauge’s products or services. Maine Narrow Gauge may exercise any of these rights itself or through any successors, transferees, licensees, distributors or other parties, commercial or nonprofit.
- RELEASE OF LIABILITY, COVENANT NOT TO SUE, AND INDEMNITY
a. As lawful consideration for ticketed admission on to the premise for this event, I, on behalf of myself and on behalf of my heirs, successors, personal representatives, and assigns hereby shall indemnify and hold harmless Maine Narrow Gauge, its officers, directors, employees, volunteers, and members from and against any and all third-party costs, expenses (including reasonable outside counsel’s fees), liabilities, judgments, losses, damages, suits, actions, fines, penalties, claims and demands of any kind and asserted by or on behalf of any person, independent contractor or governmental authority arising out of the ticket holder’s participation, entrance, or presence on the premises, except for gross negligence or willful misconduct by Maine Narrow Gauge. Maine Narrow Gauge shall not be liable to ticket holder on account of:
i) any failure by Ticket Holder to perform any of the agreements, terms, or covenants or conditions of this Agreement
ii) any failure by Ticket Holder to comply with the statutes, ordinances, regulations, or orders of any governmental authority unless caused by the failure of Maine Narrow Gauge to perform under this Agreement or
iii) any accident, death, or personal injury or property damage which shall occur on or as a result of the ticket holder’s participation, entrance, or presence at the event venue except as the same may be caused by the sole misconduct or omissions to act or negligence of Maine Narrow Gauge, its employees or agents.
b. Guests and Ticket Holder waives all rights against Maine Narrow Gauge and its agents, officers, directors, and employees for recovery of damages to the extent these damages are covered by the commercial general liability or commercial umbrella liability insurance maintained pursuant to this agreement.
c. If any term or provision of the Agreement is found to be unenforceable or invalid such shall not affect the other terms and provisions which shall remain binding and enforceable.