Frequently Asked Questions

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

Tickets went on sale this summer and were sold out in early November.  

When are THE POLAR EXPRESS Train Rides times?

Friday – Sunday, Nov. 28-30, Dec. 5-7 and 12-14; Wednesday – Monday, December 17-22.  Performance times are 4pm and 6pm for all event dates.  An 8pm train ride and show will be offered on select days.  Guests should arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the performances to allow ample time for parking and picking up will call boarding passes.

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 an opening scene, 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. 

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 90 minutes.

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 are SOLD OUT.

Where will I be seated?

Seating on the train will be assigned. If you would like to be seated with passengers who are purchasing separately, please make a note of this in the comments field when purchasing online, or alert the ticketing agent when purchasing by phone.

Where do I pick up my tickets?

All tickets are held in Will Call inside the Barber Junction Visitor Center, an authentic depot adjacent to the museum’s main parking lot.  They are available after 3 pm on the day of your train ride.  When you place your order, you will receive a confirmation by email or mail with details about picking up your boarding pass and boarding instructions.

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 admission tickets.  Admission tickets can be purchased on the day of your visit at the Barber Junction Visitor Center.  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. 257 or 237.

Are there refunds or exchanges?

Tickets cannot be refunded or exchanged, so please check the date and time 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.

Are there restrooms and diaper changing facilities?

Restrooms with changing stations are available in the northern section of the Barber Junction Welcome Center.  However, there are no restrooms aboard the train or at the North Pole.

Are strollers allowed on the train?

Strollers are not allowed on the train; however, there will be a designated area for stroller parking.  Please make sure that you keep all valuables with you.

Is the train wheelchair accessible?

The train is indeed 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 wheelchairs with safety tie-downs.  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 will actually be in a wheelchair and Standard Coach seating for 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.  Wheelchair tie downs are only available in our Standard Coach seating car.

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. 

Will food be available at the event?

Hot chocolate and small treat served onboard the train.  Additionally, two food vendors will be available, one with snacks and one with hamburgers, hot dogs, and the like.  There are also a variety of restaurants in Spencer and Salisbury (3 miles south).  Check out the listing of area restaurants at

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 conveniently 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 SunTrust Bank and the Spencer Fire Department 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 Visitors Guide.  Special packages are also available providing free tickets (one child, one adult) 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 and kiosk stands.  The Gift Station will be open throughout the The Polar Express event.