Frequently Asked Questions
When do THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride tickets go on sale?
Tickets go on sale to the general public on October 1, 2016 at 9:00am. Tickets can only be purchased online through this website.
What are THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride dates and times?
Friday - Sunday, November 25 - 27;
Wednesdays - Sundays, December 1-4; 7-11; 14-18
Departure times are 3:30pm, 5:00pm, 6:30pm and 8:00pm
Can I become a member to participate in Member Advance Ticket Sales?
Yes, we encourage you to join the California State Railroad Museum or Railtown 1897 State Historic Park to learn about upcoming events and exhibits. Members receive advance notification and advance purchase opportunities for events such as THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride as well as other great benefits (click here for more information on membership). However, all new memberships must be purchased, or existing memberships must be renewed and active, by September 5, 2016 in order to participate in 2016 Member Advance Ticket Sales. Memberships purchased after September 5, will not be eligible for 2016 Member Advance Ticket Sales. For more information on Member Advance Ticket Sales, click here.
Please note -- membership does NOT guarantee your purchase of tickets. Members have the opportunity to purchase up to 8 individual tickets or 2 tables of four per member household during Member Advance Ticket Sales. Available tickets are limited and sell out very quickly.
What do THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride tickets include?
Each ticket includes THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride; admission to the Central Pacific Passenger Station where you will pick up your tickets, shop, and enjoy entertainment while you wait to board the train; and admission to the Eagle Theater where you may meet Santa and purchase a commemorative photo taken by a professional photographer.
What can I expect on the Train Ride?
THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride will last approximately one hour. You will enter the Central Pacific Passenger Station and pick up your tickets. You are free to enjoy the entertainers, take photos, shop, or climb aboard the caboose. Approximately 45 minutes prior to your departure time, passengers may line up according to the boarding point listed on the ticket. Boarding will begin approximately 20 minutes prior to departure. Children under 2 years of age, do not require a ticket and must be seated on an adult's lap while on board the train. Strollers are not allowed on board the train. They will be deposited in Stroller Parking before boarding and watched over during your ride.
Once on board the train, you will travel to the "North Pole" while we read the story of THE POLAR EXPRESS. Dancing waiters will fly through the cars as each ticketed passenger is served hot chocolate and a treat. As the train passes the North Pole, you will catch a glimpse of Santa and his elves while the train readys for the return trip. As you head back to Old Sacramento, Santa will come aboard and walk through each car to give out the "first gift of Christmas" -- the silver sleigh bell -- to each passenger. We will all join in and sing Christmas Carols as we pull into the station in Old Sacramento. Once you depart the train, walk across the walkway to the Eagle Theatre, where Santa will be available to spend more time and visit with your child and you may purchase a commemorative photo with Santa.
What can I expect if I am able to get First Class tickets?
First Class tickets are limited in number and usually sell out first. Passengers with First Class El Dorado Observation Car, Audubon Dining Car, or French Quarter Car tickets will board before the Coach passengers. The ticket will indicate whether you are seated in the Parlor or Lounge section of the El Dorado Observation Car. In the Audubon Dining Car, your tickets will entitle you to one table for your party of four. Each ticketed passenger will receive hot chocolate served in a commemorative mug. First Class Stewards are assigned to each section of the cars.
Where do I pick up my tickets?
All tickets will be held at Will Call inside the Central Pacific Passenger Station at the corner of Front and J Streets. They will be available after 3:30pm only on the day of your train ride. (Passengers riding the 3:30pm train will be able to pick up tickets after 2:30pm. Only 3:30pm train ride tickets will be available at 2:30pm). When you place your order, you will receive a confirmation number. Please note the exact date and time of your tickets when you place the order. You must purchase tickets for a particular car, however, exact seating is not assigned, but rather on a first-come, first-served basis. Approximately 1 week before your train ride, you will receive an additional email reminding you of where to park and where to go for your tickets.
Requests for full refunds will be accepted up to 48 hours after your purchase. After 48 hours, requests for refunds or exchanges received up to two weeks prior to the train ride will be charged $10 per ticket or $40 per table of four. Ticket exchanges are based on availability. Any available exchanges will be processed beginning October 15, 2016 and are subject to the $10 per ticket or $40 per table cancellation fee (this includes exchanges between cars). Contact THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride – Sacramento Hotline at (916) 445-8270 to submit refund or exchange requests.
What if we miss our train?
You will pick up your tickets for THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride at the Central Pacific Passenger Station in Old Sacramento, located southwest of the entrance of the California State Railroad Museum on the corner of Front and J Streets. Departure times for your ride on THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride are exact. Missed train rides cannot be taken later. We suggest you arrive approximately 1 hour prior to your departure time to pick up your tickets allowing for parking and walking to the Central Pacific Passenger Station. You may begin lining up to board approximately 30-45 minutes prior to departure.
Can We Wear Pajamas and bring our copy of the book?
Of course that's part of the fun! We encourage the whole family to dress in your warmest pajamas and bring your book for the Conductor to sign if you wish. Do be sure to dress warmly enough to walk comfortably to and from your car, and make sure that everyone in your party is wearing appropriate footwear. You will be traversing streets with packed granite soil and wooden boardwalks to reach the event's starting point in the Central Pacific Railroad Passenger Station in Old Sacramento. The Passenger station is covered but not heated and open to the elements. The train cars are nice and warm for your trip.
Are there restrooms and diaper-changing facilities?
There are no restrooms aboard the train. The ride is one-hour long. Restrooms with changing stations are available outside the Central Pacific Passenger Station.
Where can we park our baby stroller?
Strollers and baby carriers are not allowed aboard THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride, due to narrow aisles aboard the train and the need for crews to freely move about during the trip. You may keep your stroller with you while inside the Passengers Station. Stroller parking will be available just prior to boarding of your train. A convenient location is designated for this purpose, and strollers will be guarded while your train is journeying to the North Pole!
Is there preboarding and access for persons with disabilities?
Train rides on THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride in Sacramento are not fully accessible to persons with disabilities, due to historic, narrow doorway widths and steep stepwells. However, our train crews are always pleased to lend assistance when boarding and alighting from the train (provided wheelchairs or other oversize assistive devices are not required during the trip). If you need any assistance preboarding the train, please let us know at the ticket window and a station agent will preboard your family member who needs assistance, plus one other person from the party to accompany them. The remaining members of the party will line up with the rest of the passengers for regular boarding.
The California State Railroad Museum and related event activities are fully accessible to persons with disabilities, except as noted above. If you require special accommodation, please notify us in advance of your visit by emailing us at
or by calling THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride – Sacramento Hotline at (916) 445-8270.
Will food be available at this event?
Food will not be available at the actual event site -- except for the hot chocolate and small treat aboard the train during the ride. If you wish to come early or stay later after the ride, there are a variety of restaurants throughout the Old Sacramento Historic District, catering to every kind of clientele. Visit www.oldsacramento.com for more details.
What happens if the weather conditions are bad?
Winter wind, rain or other adverse conditions are possible. Please check weather conditions prior to your visit, and dress accordingly. THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride will operate as scheduled, regardless of weather. Although under cover, the Central Pacific Passenger Station is an open-sided building and not heated.
How do I get to Old Sacramento?
By Auto: Exit Interstate 5 in Downtown Sacramento at "J" Street, and follow the overhead signs to Old Sacramento (J Street to 5th, left onto 5th, left onto "I", straight ahead to Old Sacramento). Remember: If you have reserved a weekday departure, please allow sufficient time to reach Old Sacramento regardless of rush hour travel conditions. By Amtrak: the Sacramento train depot is just two blocks from Old Sacramento and the Museum. Amtrak's Capitols offer frequent service from the Bay Area; San Joaquins from Fresno/Modesto. For routes, fares, and reservations call 1-800-USA-RAIL or visit www.amtrak.com.
Where should I park?
On-street metered parking throughout Old Sacramento is time-limited to 90 minutes or less. Therefore, we recommend parking in one of the City of Sacramento's Downtown/Old Sacramento public parking lots. The nearest and most reasonably priced one is located on "I" Street between 2nd and 3rd Streets, underneath Interstate 5 in Old Sacramento. An online map of City Parking Garages in the Downtown/Old Sacramento area may be accessed at www.downtownsac.org by clicking on "map."
Is there local public transportation?
Old Sacramento, the California State Railroad Museum, and all of the City of Sacramento are served by Sacramento Regional Transit busses and Light Rail lines. Light Rail trains travel to and from the Sacramento train depot, just two blocks from Old Sacramento and the Railroad Museum. For details, call Regional Transit at (916) 321-2877 or visit www.sacrt.com.
Where can I stay overnight?
Check out nearby hotels that are within walking distance of Old Sacramento. Additionally, the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau can recommend a number of hotels and attractions in the area, or the Bureau will be happy to mail you a complete Sacramento Visitors Guide upon request. The Bureau provides callers with information between 8:00am and 5:00pm PT Monday through Friday at (916) 264-7777, or visit www.visitsacramento.com anytime.