Frequently Asked Questions

When do THE POLAR EXPRESS Train Ride tickets go on sale?

Tickets went on sale for select NCTM members July 1st and all museum members July 2.

Tickets went on sale to the general public July 6 at 9am.  Tickets can be purchased online through this website or by calling the N.C. Transportation Museum at 704-636-2889 ext. 257 or 237.  

When are THE POLAR EXPRESS Train Rides times?

Friday through Saturday, Nov. 20 - 21  (NOTE:  Nov. 20 is the final dress rehearsal.  Limited seating will be sold for this night.)
Friday through Sunday, Nov. 27-29, Dec. 4-6, 11-13
Wednesday - Monday, Dec. 16-21

Performance times are 4, 5:30, and 7pm with 8:30 rides available most event dates.  Guests should arrive 30 min. to an hour prior to the performance to allow ample time for parking and to locate your respective boarding line. Guests may also arrive early for pictures with Santa in Candy Cane Lane near the Gift Station.

Can I become a member to participate in Member Advance Ticket sales?

Yes!  We encourage you to become an N.C. Transportation Museum member.  Members in good standing as of June 24 at 4 p.m. will have an exclusive first opportunity to purchase tickets for THE POLAR EXPRESS Train Ride.  Members may purchase up to 8 tickets (or two tables seating 4 persons each) during the Advance Member Sale period:  

      Sales begin at 9 a.m. on the first day of each sale period. 

            July 1st:  Advance Ticket Sales for Engineer and Conductor level members
            July 2nd - 5th: Advance Ticket Sales for all NCTM Membership levels

What can I expect?

THE POLAR EXPRESS Train Ride offers the unique experience of a live theater performance and train ride in one.  Our performances begin with the train's arrival at the Barber Junction Visitor Center.  After watching a short production, taken from Chris Van Allsburg’s The Polar Express, all guests are invited aboard.  During THE POLAR EXPRESS Train Ride, passengers are served hot chocolate and a sweet treat, and delight in lively songs, dance and the reading of the holiday classic The Polar Express.  Upon arrival at the North Pole, passengers deboard to watch Santa present the first gift of Christmas.  Santa then joins passengers on the train and provides each believer with their very own silver sleigh bell before exiting the train at Candy Cane Lane.  The entire journey takes place on the 57 acre grounds of the N.C. Transportation Museum.

How long is THE POLAR EXPRESS Train Ride event?

THE POLAR EXPRESS Train Ride event, including two stage performances and the train ride, will last about 75 minutes and will take place entirely on the grounds of the N.C. Transportation Museum.

What engine will be pulling THE POLAR EXPRESS Train Ride?

The train will be pulled by the N.C. Transportation Museum's Southern #6133 FP-7, though we do retain the right to substitute another engine in the event of mechanical failure. 

How do I purchase tickets?

Tickets can be purchased online at  If you need assistance with your purchase, please call (704) 636 2889, ext. 257 or 237.
  NC state sales tax and convenience fees are required for all tickets and will be added in the final step of your ticket purchase (but before you are charged).

Where will I be seated?

You will choose your seating on the train at the time of ticket purchase. All Standard and Deluxe Coach seats will face forward, not face each other, with the exception of Car #1, Standard Class.  Please keep that in mind when buying for three or more people.

How Do I Get My Tickets?

Our system offers a "Print at Home" option, which allows you to print your tickets from your home printer.  You can also use your printed confirmation as your ticket when you arrive on site.

Can I take photos during the event?

Yes, you can take photos.  Aboard the train, there will be several opportunities for kids to interact with Santa, the conductor, and the chefs.  Cameras are certainly welcome.  Either before or after THE POLAR EXPRESS Train Ride, professional pictures with kids sitting on Santa's lap will be available in Candy Cane Lane.  Carolina Portrait Designs will provide photography and several different photo packages.  You are under no obligation to purchase.  Due to time constraints, photos during this time will be limited to the professional photographer only.

Does my ticket include museum admission? 

Museum admission is not included in your Polar Express ticket purchase, since this event is offered after the museum's regular operating hours.  You are welcome to visit the museum earlier in the day and tour the exhibits with the purchase of regular admission tickets, which can be purchased on the day of your visit at the Barber Junction Visitor Center.  Please note that the museum will close early on days when THE POLAR EXPRESS Train Ride is offered.  Please plan admission purchase accordingly. 

Highlights of the museum's exhibits include:

  • Largest authentic Roundhouse in the country, featuring an assortment of authentic locomotives and railcars
  • Aviation exhibits, including a life-size replica of the Wright brother flier
  • Bumper to Bumper, chronicling the automotive history from horseless carriages forward

Do groups receive a discounted rate?

Groups purchasing 15 or more tickets in one transaction will receive a $3/ticket discount on Standard or Deluxe Coach tickets.  For group reservations, please call (704) 636.2889 ext. 224.

Are there refunds or exchanges?

Tickets cannot be refunded or exchanged, so please check the date and time carefully before purchasing. No rainchecks will be offered.  All rides continue rain or shine.

What are the appropriate ages for THE POLAR EXPRESS Train Ride?

The Polar Express train ride and show is a family event that welcomes visitors of all ages.

Can we wear pajamas and bring our copies of The Polar Express?

Of course, that’s part of the fun!  We encourage the whole family to dress in your warmest pajamas and bring your book to read along, if you wish.  Do be sure to dress warmly enough to walk comfortably to and from your car, to wait for boarding and to watch the two outdoor performances. Please make sure you (and your little ones) are dressed appropriately for the weather.

Guests may also pre-purchase a hard-bound copy of The Polar Express to be picked up before your train ride.  Even better, this copy will be signed by Santa Claus.  These hardbound editions are $20 each and can be included in your ticket purchase.  You may also purchase a copy of The Polar Express when you arrive on site in the museum's Gift Station, but those copies will not be signed by Santa.

Are there restrooms and diaper changing facilities?

Restrooms with changing stations are available in the northern section of the Barber Junction Visitor Center and on the train.  There are no restrooms at the North Pole. 

Are strollers allowed on the train?

Neither strollers nor car seats are allowed on the train; however, there will be a designated area for stroller parking. We advise leaving car seats in your vehicle.  Please make sure that you keep all valuables with you.  Please note that the train will load at the Barber Junction Visitor Center, but the ride will end at Candy Cane Lane, behind the Gift Station at the Master Mechanic's Office.  Returning to the parking lot will require walking, or you may ride our trolley shuttle.

Is the train wheelchair accessible?

One standard coach seat is wheelchair accessible, and our staff will assist those in wheelchairs with boarding.  Our specially retrofitted wheelchair accessible rail car features a combination of traditional coach seats and spaces to accomodate a wheelchair.  This seating is ideal for wheelchair-bound passengers, as they can stay seated in their chair and not have to transfer to a seat. When making your ticket purchase please reserve Wheelchair Seating ONLY for the members of your group who will actually be in a wheelchair and ADA and Companion Seating - Standard Coach (Car #2) for up to four members of the rest of your party.  We will ensure everyone is seated together.  If you reserve wheelchair seating for passengers who are not in a wheelchair, they will find themselves without a seat during the event. 

Please note that we cannot unload wheelchairs at the North Pole.  However, we will position the train in such a way to provide the best view of the performance possible. 

PLEASE NOTE: All wheelchair seating should be purchased by phone (not online) at 704-636-2889 ext. 224.

Will food be available at the event?

Hot chocolate and a small treat are served onboard the train.  Additionally, food vendors may be available, schedule dependent, with snacks, hamburgers, hot dogs, and the like.  There are also a variety of restaurants in Salisbury (3 miles south).  Check out the listing of area restaurants by clicking here.

What happens if weather conditions are bad?

Winter wind, rain and other adverse conditions are possible.  Please check weather conditions prior to your visit and dress accordingly.  Portions of the event will take place outside, so if it is raining, please bring appropriate rain gear. THE POLAR EXPRESS Train Ride will operate as scheduled unless noted on our website:

How do I get to the N.C. Transportation Museum?

The N.C. Transportation Museum is located at 411 S. Salisbury Avenue, Spencer, NC, just minutes from I-85 in Spencer, N.C., within an hour’s drive from Charlotte, Greensboro or Winston Salem.  From I-85 take exit 79 and travel north along Andrews St. for 1.5 miles, to the second stoplight.  Turn left onto Hwy. 29 (Salisbury Avenue).  The museum entrance will be about ¼-1/2 mile on your left.

From Statesville, take I-40 to I-77 South (Exit 152).  From I-77, take exit 49A (G. Bagnal Blvd.) which is Highway 70.  Travel Hwy. 70 for 23 miles to the West End Plaza in Salisbury.  Continue straight past West End Plaza, drive about 2.5 miles and you will pass Rowan Regional Medical Center on the right.  About 2 blocks beyond Rowan Regional Medical Center, turn right onto Clubhouse Drive (at the “To Main Street” sign).  Follow Clubhouse Drive, veering left at the curve until you reach the light at Main Street.  Turn left onto Main Street and travel for 2 miles, passing through downtown Spencer.  You will pass downtown shops on the left, and the museum entrance will be on the right, just beyond 1st Street.  (Approximate drive time:  45 minutes)

Is parking available on site?

The N.C. Transportation Museum has free on-site parking. Follow the entrance drive all the way up to the main lot near the Barber Junction Visitor Center. If the main lot is full, there is an overflow lot, which you will have passed on your way to the main lot. You may circle back and find a space there.

Where can I stay overnight?

Information about hotels in Salisbury/Rowan County, as well as other area attractions, is available at  The Rowan County Convention & Visitors Bureau will also be happy to mail you a local Visitor Guide.  Special packages are also available providing free tickets (one standard child ticket, one standard adult ticket) for those who take advantage of lodging in Salisbury-Rowan County.  CLICK HERE for more information, or call 800.332.2343. 

Do you sell official Polar Expressmerchandise?

THE POLAR EXPRESS Train Ride will feature a variety of themed merchandise.  Cash, checks and credit cards are accepted.  An extensive selection of railroad and transportation related merchandise is also available at the N.C. Transportation Museum's Gift Station.  The Gift Station will be open throughout the The Polar Express event.

Guests may also pre-purchase a hard-bound copy of The Polar Express to be picked up before your train ride.  Even better, this copy will be signed by Santa Claus.  These hardbound editions are $20 each and can be included in your ticket purchase.