An Inside Look At What It's Really Like Aboard RI's Polar Express

While #rhodylife usually conjures up images of beaches and clam cakes, our small but mighty state offers so many amazing holiday activities, especially for kids. Last weekend I took my boys (aged four and two, so a sweet spot for believing in holiday magic) for a ride on The Polar Express in Woonsocket. The region offers several different Christmas train options - Buzzards Bay, Edaville, Newport, and North Conway - but the Woonsocket one is known for its high energy, stay-on-the-train experience.

From the moment we arrived, we were welcomed with Christmas spirit. As we waited in line to check-in, we bopped to the Christmas music and explored the décor.

One of the most magical moments was the “real” snow falling as we boarded the train.

Everyone was cozy in their holiday PJs (including Mom and Dad) and we settled in on the Comet car. When you buy tickets, you’ll see there are several options, including upgraded cars with souvenir stuffed animals, but by my calculations, just buying a stuffed animal would be cheaper than the upgraded price…The seats were comfy and the train was decked out in holiday colors.
They let you know that there is a social media contest and if you tag your train car and seat number, you could win a prize. So I got to snapping away, and we actually won (an adorable Polar Express train)! *Winning photo below.*

The treats come fast and furious for riders both young and old. It starts with a songbook, then a polar bear cookie, then hot chocolate in a souvenir mug, then a gift from Santa himself (bells, which we hung on our tree), then a coloring book and crayons. The kids also loved it when the train slowly went past the “North Pole.”

Overall, this is a great local holiday activity for kids. One word to the wise is to get there very close to boarding time as the holding area is chaotic. They encourage you to get there early to explore (and purchase), but it was really just overwhelming and cramped.

That said, when your child’s face looks like this after seeing Santa board the train, it’s worth it, right?!

More About Hilary

Hilary Levey Friedman is a sociologist who teaches at Brown University. She is a frequent book reviewer and has written one of her own, Playing to Win: Raising Children in a Competitive Culture. She lives in East Greenwich with her husband and two young sons and loves exploring all that Rhode Island has to offer. 


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