I should start by saying that The Polar Express is one of Doug's most favorite holiday movies. He loves it- hands down. So even though his last minute, surprise trip to The Polar Express for the weekend was so sweet, I wasn't exactly shocked by his choice.
On the car ride, I rented the movie The Polar Express, and Trey and Carrington got to watch it for the first time. Trey was so excited to be getting to go on "that same train", and Carrington couldn't care less. :) Since we made last-minute arrangements, we were limited in where to stay, and which 'class' to ride on the train. We ended up staying at the Hemlock Inn, which was perfect for us. The cabins are rustic (with no televisions), but we had 2 separate bedrooms, and a living/kitchen area, which was great. Plus, the inn includes a huge, home-cooked, family-style breakfast in the morning, and it was fantastic!
The first class and crown class seats/cars on the train were fully booked, so we had to choose coach class, and we selected the Dillsboro car- this is the last car on the train (the caboose), and it has it's own bathroom (so other people in separate cars had to walk to our car to use the restroom). Our trip was at 8:15pm, which must be fairly late for some children, so we were fortunate to have the car only about 1/3 of the way full. Yay!!! For those reading this and planning their own trip- the difference between first class and crown class is that first class is assigned seating, and you get a mug souvenier. Crown class is open seating (no assigned), and you still receive the mug souvenier. Both of these cars (the first and crown class) have small tables in each of the booths, which the coach class booths do not. The coach class is also open seating, and you don't receive a souvenier mug. Thought I should mention the differences. :) Back to our trip- we boarded the train, and it was awesome! The kids each had their own "Golden Ticket", and as soon as we took our seats, the music began, and we were on our way! We sang songs, we had hot chocolate and cookies, the train master read us the book of the Polar Express (again, for those that haven't gone- go and buy a copy of the book to bring with you- you can read along as the train master reads aloud), we danced to Christmas carols, we hollared at the antelope to get off the tracks (just like in the movie), the train master came around to each child and punched their ticket (a bunch of times, just like the movie), and we rode all the way to the North Pole. As we first passed the North Pole, we could see Santa out the window, but when we turned around to head back, Santa was gone- and that was when he walked into our train car!!!! We were all chanting "Santa, Santa, Santa" and he was amazing. Trey couldn't contain his excitement and when Santa got all the way to us, Trey through his arms around him and gave him a big hug. It was so precious. Santa gave Trey and Carrington special bells- like the movie- and Trey made certain that Santa knew he wanted a firetruck for Christmas.
There is pretty much nothing that I didn't love about this entire experience. I think my favorite part, besides getting to see Trey's genuine excitement, was that the kids wore their pajamas the entire time. Our pictures with Santa this year are in their jammies, and I LOVE it!!! Another piece to note- the adults should DEFINITELY wear their jammies on the train too- tons of other families did this and it was adorable.
We brought out all the Christmas traditions that weekend, and I'll write more on those details in another post, but it was truly a wonderful time, and a great way to spend our 6 year wedding anniversary- it was filled with fantastic family memories.
Jealous of our family picture, aren't you? :)
Not sure why Carrington looks like she just had her wisdom teeth pulled- for that matter, they both have swollen looking cheeks... Oh well- they loved it, and I love them wearing their jammies with Santa!