Polar Express Train Rides, Holiday Express, Santa Train, and Santa Trolley

Originally inspired by Chris Van Allsburg’s The Polar Express, these rides can include everything from story times to caroling to meals with Santa. Many choose to wear pajamas to get in character, or feel free to don your most festive holiday sweater! Create a new holiday tradition for your family and take a magical ride to the North Pole!

These events tend to fill up very quickly, so if you want a spot, make sure to sign up as soon as tickets become available.

Polar Express Train Rides, Holiday Express, Santa Train, and Santa Trolley

Downers Grove Polar Express

Polar Express Storytime Train
Saturday, November 17, 2018 | 8:45 am, 10:45 am, and 12:45 pm
This two-hour trip is $30 for residents and $45 for non-residents. Infants 11 months and younger free.
Registration opens July 30 for residents and August 6 for non-residents. Check the 2018 Fall Park District guide and the park district website for full details and information on how to register.

Riders enjoy chocolate milk and cookies while professional storytellers read The Polar Express. When the train reaches the North Pole (a.k.a. the Aurora train station), Santa climbs on board for the return trip!

Glen Ellyn Polar Express

The Polar Express Storytime Train
Dates and times announced in late September.
Resident registration opens Monday, October 1 at 8:30 am; non-resident registration opens Monday, October 15 at 8:30 am. See the Glen Ellyn Park District website for more information.

Kids climb aboard for a magical trip to the North Pole complete with storytime, snacks, carols, and a visit from Santa.

Elmhurst Polar Express

Polar Express Storytime Train
Sunday, December 9, 2018 | 11:00 am and 3:00 pm
The trip takes about two hours. Pricing and registration information should be available soon on the Elmhurst Park District website

As the train chugs along to the North Pole (Elburn), riders enjoy cookies and refreshments while listening to a storyteller read The Polar Express. Santa will be waiting when the train arrives!

Lombard Polar Express

Polar Express Storytime Train
Sunday, December 2, 2018 | 9:00 am – 12:30 pm and 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
$45 per person; children two and under seated on a parent’s lap during the train ride and mealtime are free. Pre-registration required through the Butterfield Park District; see the Summer 2018 Park District guide for more information, and look for the Fall 2018 guide, which will contain more details.

Climb on board at the Downers Grove Main Street Station and take a ride to Banquets at Two Brothers Roundhouse in Aurora, which magically transforms into the North Pole. Santa’s elves will welcome families to his workshop, where you can enjoy a breakfast or lunch buffet with Santa. You’ll also decorate a cookie, play games, and create a holiday craft. Finally, Santa will read a favorite story out loud. On the train ride home, everyone will sing holiday songs together.

Santa Storytime Bus
Sunday, December 2, 2018 | 9:00 am – 12:30 pm and 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
$45 per person; children 2 and under are free
Pre-registration required through the Butterfield Park District; see the Summer 2018 Park District guide for more information, and look for the Fall 2018 guide, which will contain more details.

Climb on board a specially decorated express bus for a ride complete with a sing-a-long and a story. After you arrive at the Santa’s Workshop (Banquets at Two Brothers Roundhouse in Aurora), Santa’s elves will welcome you in for a breakfast or lunch buffet with Santa. You’ll also decorate cookies, play games, and create a holiday craft. Finally, Santa will read a favorite story out loud. On the train ride home, everyone will sing holiday songs together.

Oak Brook Holiday Express

Holiday Express
Wednesday, December 19, 2018 | 4:15 pm – 7:00 pm
Activities include crafts, the reading of the Polar Express, bounce house, and light refreshments Register online.

Orland Park Polar Express

Santa’s North Pole Express
Friday, November 30, 2018 | 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m and Saturday, December 1, 2018 | 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m
Train will depart from the 143rd Street Metra Station. Information is available through the Orland Park Park District. Prices and registration information to be announced soon.

Tinley Park Polar Express

Polar Express Story Time Train
Sunday, December 2, 2018 | 11:20 am, 1:20 am, 3:20 pm
$14 per person for residents and $18 per person for non-residents. Children age 9 months and younger do not need a ticket. Registration begins July 29, 2018 and non-residents can register August 15, 2018. Please note, online registration is not available for this program and it does fill quickly. More information is available in the Tinley Park Park District Fall Brochure.

The train will leave the Tinley Park 80th Avenue station and head to the North Pole (Joliet station) to visit with Santa. He and Mrs. Claus will board at the North Pole to ride along back to Tinley Park. Stories, carols, and cookies will be enjoyed by all and hot cocoa is served upon return!

Other Polar Express and Santa Train Events

More events will be popping up throughout the fall! In the past, BensenvilleBerwyn, Clarendon HillsFrankfort, HinsdaleLagrangeOak Park, Westmont, Willowbrook , and Worth have all held events. If you live in those towns, keep an eye out for your fall park district guide, which may have event details.

About the Author

Claudia Coyne
Having grown up in Palos Park, Claudia has a great love for the southwest suburbs and the hidden gems of the area. Claudia currently lives in Tinley Park with her husband and four children (two girls, ages 6 and 4 and two boys, ages 3 and 1). Cabin fever with four children can get rough, so they’re always looking for new and exciting adventures outside of the house! During the warmer months, you’ll find her and the family at the pool, out on nature walks, grilling in the yard, or at the zoo. And pick a park, any park… Claudia’s kids possess a magical super power of being able to detect the nearest park within a 5 mile radius, so there’s always a stop off on the way home to discover new playgrounds! When the cold comes, they like to craft, hibernate at the library or indoor play places, and play in the snow. In her tiny sliver of free time, Claudia enjoys sewing, photography, and baking.

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