Where is the North Carolina Transportation Museum?

The museum is located in Spencer, North Carolina right off Interstate 85 between Charlotte and Greensboro.  The address is 411 S. Salisbury Avenue, Spencer, NC.  Your GPS likes the address 1 Samuel Spencer Driver, Spencer, NC better!

When are THE POLAR EXPRESS Train Rides times?

       Friday November 17th FINAL DRESS REHEARSAL – Limited seating at discounted price
       Saturday, November 18th
       Friday, November 24th through Sunday, November 26th
       Friday, December 1st through Sunday, December 3rd
       Friday, December 8th through Sunday, December 10th
       Thursday, December 14th through Friday, December 22nd

Performance times are 4:45pm, 5:30pm, 6:15pm, 7:00pm, and 7:45pm.  There will be a 4:00pm matinee ride and an 8:30pm ride some nights.  Ride times depend on the seating class chosen.  Guests should arrive 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.

What is the matinee performance at 4:00pm on selected days? 

Only Deluxe Coach/First Class train will be running at this time.  The matinee price is $5 off per person.  This is a great ride for children with earlier bedtimes.  

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 in the station 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 a silver sleigh bell before exiting the train at Candy Cane Lane. 

The entire journey takes place on the 60 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 70 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?

Two diesel engines that belong to the North Carolina Transportation Museum will pull the Standard and Deluxe Coach/First Class train.

How do I purchase tickets?

Tickets can be purchased online at  If you need assistance with your purchase, please call (704) 636 2889, ext. 224.  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. Most Standard and Deluxe Coach seats will face forward, not face each other, with the exception of Car #1, Standard Class.  Make note of the arrows in the picture diagrams when selecting your seats. Please keep seat direction in mind when buying for three or more people. The Standard Coach cars are named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, and Olive.  Our three Deluxe Coach cars are Comet, Cupid, and Rudolph.  The two First Class cars are Donner and Blitzen.

Standard coach this year is: Dasher, Cupid, Prancer, Vixen, Comet & Dancer.  Jingle is also Standard Coach and has ADA seating, but can only be booked via a phone order.  Deluxe Coach is : Donner, Blitzen, Rudolph & Olive.  First Class is: Holly & Clarice.


Can I purchase a 4-top table for 5 people? Or Can I pay for an additional seat at a 4-top or 2-top table? 

Dining cars have limited room.  Additional seats cannot be added to a table.  To accommodate 5 people in first-class, you will need to either purchase one 4-top table, plus one 2-top table or you will need to purchase two 4-top tables.

Is the train heated?

Yes, all passenger cars are heated.

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 or show it in your cell phone.

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 Brothers Flyer
  • Bumper to Bumper, chronicling 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/seat discount on all 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, time, and location carefully before purchasing. No rainchecks will be offered.  All rides continue rain or shine.

What if I go to the wrong railroad venue for my Polar Express ride?

Tickets cannot be refunded or exchanged, so please check the location carefully before purchasing.

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. We suggest you wear closed-toe shows with non-slick bottoms.  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 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?

A limited number of coach seats are wheelchair accessible on our Standard Class Trains, and our staff will assist those in wheelchairs with boarding.  Our wheelchair accessible rail car features a combination of traditional coach seats and spaces to accommodate 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 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 North Pole performance possible. 

 Wheelchairs should not exceed 30” in width.  Only our “Jingle” car on the Standard Coach Train is wheelchair accessible.  Other coach cars, and all cars on the Deluxe Coach/First Class/Parlor Class trains are not wheelchair accessible due to the use of historic and antiquated rail passenger equipment, which is exempt from ADA regulations under US Code:  Title 42:  Section 12184.

TO RESERVE WHEELCHAIR AND COMPANION SEATS:  Please purchase by phone (not online) at 704-636-2889 ext. 224.

Is sign language interpretation available?

American Sign Language interpretation for the deaf and hard of hearing will be offered on November 26 and December 10 on our Standard Coach Trains.  Parties with passengers in need of this service will need to book their tickets over the phone by calling 704-636-2889 Ext 224.  To ensure that we handle your order properly, please do not book your tickets online.

Will food be available at the event?

Hot chocolate and a chocolate chip cookie 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.

Will alcohol be available?

Alcohol is not permitted on the grounds of the N.C. Transportation Museum during events.  Alcohol will not be served and is prohibited both aboard the train and across the museum grounds.

What if my child has food allergies?

We cannot ensure that our special cocoa and cookies do not contain ingredients that your family member may be allergic to.  Guests are welcome to bring their own snack options.  Please give this to your chef when you board the train.

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?

Your GPS will pick up 1 Samuel Spencer Drive Spencer, NC better than our mailing address of 411 S. Salisbury Avenue, Spencer, NC.

The N.C. Transportation Museum is located 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 Salisbury-Rowan County Convention & Visitor Bureau will also be happy to mail you a local Visitor Guide.  Special packages are also available providing free tickets for those who take advantage of lodging in Salisbury-Rowan County. 

CLICK HERE for more information, or call 800.332.2343.  Special packages are offered through the Rowan County Convention & Visitor Bureau for those staying the night is a Salisbury-Rowan County hotel or Bed & Breakfast.

Do you sell official Polar Express™merchandise?

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 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.