I was excited to get on board the Train to Christmas Town. Almost as excited as my daughter Kay. Almost. Nothing can top a 4-year-old looking forward to meet Santa and his elves!
Bumblebee the Polar Bear
But first was an hour ride to the train station. With an excited, impatient preschooler in the back seat. If you're a parent, you know all that that means. If you're not, nothing I say can enlighten you. I'll leave it at that. Finally we arrived. The inside of the station, where we got our tickets, was festively decorated. There was even a box to put letters for Santa! And of course the obligatory souvenirs. The conductor came to bring us onto the train, amping the kids up with "Are you ready to get on the train?" A chorus of "yes!" filled the air, and we followed him inside, which was adorned with Christmas lights, garland and stockings. The elves were fantastic, interacting with each of the children, asking them what they wanted for Christmas, if they'd made a list for Santa, etc. They really got into it. Twinkles the Elf even cheerfully withstood Kay's accusation of "You're not a real elf. You don't have pointed ears." I was so embarrassed but Twinkles just smiled and explained that all elves are different, young, old, pointed ears or not. Good answer!
We were also served hot chocolate and a cookie, which led Kay to declare, "This is the best train ever!" (And that was even before Santa!)
While the story "The Train to Christmas Town" was read over the loudspeaker, the elves walked up and down the aisles showing children the pictures from a storybook. It was a sweet story (available to purchase in the gift shop area) about a little girl riding the Christmastown train for the first time without her grandmother, and how her friends - human and animal - cheer her up along the way. When the story was over, we got to meet some of the animal friends from the story, including Bumblebee the Polar Bear, Zephyr the Cat, and Wabash the Squirrel, who each walked down the aisle in turn, giving high-fives to the children. (Kay thought it was "weird" that a cat would be on a train, but had no such qualms about a polar bear!)
Then there was the big wait for Santa. The lights on the train were dimmed to indicate 5 more minutes until we arrived at the North Pole. All the kids rushed to the window when we "arrived", to see the beautiful lights illuminating the dark night and, oh, yes, Santa himself waving to everyone. (Kay insisted he was waving to her alone!) As Santa went through the other cars first, there was impatience from my seatmate, but the elves were singing, even getting some of the kids to dance in the aisle (Kay was not among them!).
Finally, Santa came! Woo-hoo! He stopped to take a quick picture with each of the children, and handed them a gift: a train whistle. I would have preferred a nice, quiet book, but the kids couldn't have been more thrilled and soon the train was ringing with the sound of train whistles.
When Santa had gone, Kay had a conversation with two elves in particular. I was really impressed that they took the time to sit and talk to her. And anybody who can say, "Let's hear you blow that whistle!" while dozens of children blow theirs is a special character indeed.
I loved the Train to Christmas Town for the personalized interaction the children got. I would have thought it was the greatest thing in the world when I was a child if an elf had stopped to talk to me, much less a bunch of elves...and Santa too. We had a great time, and I hope this becomes a holiday tradition for our family.
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