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Everything You Need To Know About St. Louis Polar Express

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Golden tickets, beautifully decorated trains, hot chocolate, silver bells, and Santa Claus in downtown St. Louis can only mean one thing… the Polar Express train ride has returned to Union Station! It’s a round-trip journey to the North Pole that will have you calling out, “All aboard the St. Louis Polar Express!” 

silver chalet st. louis polar express

Everything You Need to Know About St. Louis Polar Express

Back by popular demand, real train rides, complete with a reading of the Polar Express book, have started pulling away from the station in the Lou! This family tradition is one that we love to take part in each year. It’s not uncommon for us to wear matching jammies for the event and the whole time is just so much fun. A magical experience that creates beautiful holiday memories, filled with lots of picture taking opportunities!

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What is the St. Louis Polar Express?

This special train ride is a family-oriented experience unlike any other and has become a favorite St. Louis holiday tradition. The St. Louis Polar Express holiday train ride takes passengers on a magical journey to the North Pole, all while a cast of talented characters shares the Polar Express story and entertain from the aisles. The train departs from Union Station in St. Louis and travels to a special location where Santa Claus is waiting to meet the children. The train ride is filled with singing, dancing, and other activities that make it a truly memorable experience.

Where is the Polar Express train ride located?

St. Louis Union Station is located at 201 S.18th Street, St. Louis, MO 63103. Park in the south lot that’s behind St. Louis Union Station (that can be entered from 18th St. at Poplar St., just south of Market Street). 

When does the St. Louis Polar Express run?

The St. Louis Polar Express runs during the holiday season, from November 17th to December 30th. Tickets tend to sell out quickly, especially for evenings closest to Christmas Even, so it is important to book your tickets in advance.

polar express train ride union station

How much do tickets cost for the St. Louis Polar Express?

 Tickets vary depending on the date and time of the ride. However, tickets start at around $40 and go up to just over $100 for a premium car.

What is included in the price of a ticket to the St. Louis Polar Express?

Whether you book a seat in one of the premium cars or in coach, all ticket prices for the St. Louis Polar Express includes the train ride, a hot chocolate, a souvenir silver bell, and a chance to meet Santa Claus. (See more about the different classes of service below.) Keep in mind that everyone over 2 years of is required to have a ticket. A lap child (under the age of 2) is free, but will not have their own seat.

What are the different classes of service on the St. Louis Polar Express?

The St. Louis Polar Express offers two main classes of service: Coach cars and First Class. Coach tickets are the most affordable option, while First Class tickets include additional amenities like a small table between seats, Polar Express commemorative souvenir mug, and a complimentary digital photo download.

Additionally there’s select seating available in train cars that have a glass roof and premium lower lounge. These North Pole train car options do tend to sell out even more quickly than the others so you will want to book quickly to assure your spot. The premium cars are as follows:

Premium Upper Dome Car: There’s a mix of booth seating with sets of captain’s chairs. These deluxe seats, located on 2nd level of the train car, have a full 360 degree view with glass windows in the premium dome area. Each seat comes with a commemorative Polar Express mug, includes a complimentary digital photo download, and Polar Express Gift Shop Retail Credit. 

Premium Lower Lounge Dome Car: The lower level premium seating in the dome cars are set up in lounge style seating with comfy chairs and offers a spacious area. Each of these tickets also comes with the Polar Express mug, digital photo download, and Polar Express Gift Shop Retail Credit.

santa north pole

What happens on the St. Louis Polar Express?

After you’ve parked in the Union Station, look for the big, white Polar Express tent in the parking lot. Go under tunnel of lights to enter the tent area and from there go to the box office window. At the box office you will be given your wristbands to enter. The wristbands indicate which car you’ll be riding on The Polar Express.

Big White Tent

Inside the tent you will find all sort of holiday photo ops for the entire family.

giant christmas ornaments photography backdrop
 santa's sleigh polar express book

In addition to getting those magical holiday photos, the train ride will take you on an awesome journey. You will have fun with the characters from the book as they dance in the train aisles, drink hot cocoa, eat a delicious chocolate chip cookie, and get a silver bell from Santa himself. All on the St. Louis Polar Express!  The reading of the beloved classic children’s book, “The Polar Express” makes for an even more magical experience and all the favorite sounds of the motion picture soundtrack only add to the mood. 

st. louis polar express santa

Our family had seats in the Santa’s Sleigh dome train car and it had the best view!

golden train ticket

The chocolate chip cookie served on board is from David’s Cookies and it’s seriously the best tasting gluten free cookie that I’ve ever had. It’s also nut and dairy free!

St. Louis Polar Express Tips

What are some tips for planning a trip on the St. Louis Polar Express?

Here are some tips for planning a trip on the holiday train ride:

  • Time slots sell out quickly so be sure to book your tickets in advance.
  • Arrive early to allow time for parking, checking in and exploring the big white tent. (Many of the photo ops are in the tent.)
  • Bring a camera to capture the holiday memories.
  • Wear pajamas if you’d like to, it only adds to the magical experience!

Polar Express Deal

Save up to 30% when you take a ride to the North Pole on a weeknight!

With a weekly ride (Monday-Friday) in November you will get a voucher to ride The St. Louis Wheel for FREE!!! 

The view from the top of The Wheel can’t be beat.

All Aboard The Polar Express!

Trains depart every evening now through the end of December so hurry and get those tickets to climb aboard.

Get your train tickets HERE.

Merry Christmas and all aboard the Polar Express!!!

More Holiday Fun

What are other family activities at Union Station?

You can also take a trip inside the St. Louis Aquarium, enjoy a freak shake at the Soda Fountain, go through the Mirror Maze, or watch the free light show projected on the Grand Hall ceiling inside the St. Louis Union Station hotel.


blog owner at Seeing Dandy Blog
A mom blogger for over 15 years, Tara Smith lives in St. Louis, Missouri with her audiologist husband and four kids. Her blog has been featured on local media television shows like News 4 Great Day and Show Me St. Louis, as well as in the Farmhouse Style Magazine for Country Sampler. She loves to travel, explore the Midwest, make crafts and read.

This post could contain affiliate links or be sponsored which means I earn from advertising. Also as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. More details here.

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