North Pole Express FAQ

What to Expect

The Train

Food & Drink

Plan Your Visit

 

Tickets

When do ticket sales begin?
For Groups of 20 or more go on sale July 9, 2018 - 9:00 AM CST
Individual tickets go on sale July 23, 2018 - 9:00 am CST

 

What are the train times?
  • Fridays, Nov. 16, 23, 30 Dec. 7, 14  
    – Departure Times: 5:00 pm, 6:30 pm, 8:00 pm
  • Saturdays Nov. 17, 24 Dec. 1, 8, 15   
    – Departure Times: 5:00 pm, 6:30 pm, 8:00 pm
  • Sundays Nov. 18, 25 Dec. 2    
    – Departure Times: 5:00 pm, 6:30 pm, 8:00 pm
  • Sunday December  9 
    – Departure Times: 5:00 pm, 8:00 pm

How much are tickets?

Coach ClassC&NW "A" (Live Entertainer)First Class Infant*
$28 $37 $47 Free
Please Note: Above prices include taxes but not convenience fee. $3.00/ticket purchased on web or $4.00/ticket if purchased through the ticket call center at 205-757-8383.

*Please NOTE: Children 0-24 months ride free of charge though required to sit in an adult’s lap at all times. Notify the ticket agent upon your arrival at the Calera Depot that you have a child 0-24 months that will sit in your lap, and you will receive an infant ticket. Infant Tickets are not available online for the North Pole Express. An infant must have a ticket to ride the train. For your safety, strollers and infant car seat carriers are not permitted aboard the train.

Tickets will not be available for purchase at the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum's business office.

If you specified an email address during your purchase, you will have a ticket confirmation which will be emailed to you. Please print this out and bring to the Calera Depot ticket window on the night of your ride so as to pick up your tickets. Ticket confirmations cannot be used to board the train.

If you never received or have lost your ticket confirmation, call the ticket center at 205-757-8383 or email us. 

If you created an account with Whistle Tix during your purchase, you can click here to log on to view your account.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and monitor our website for information about North Pole Express 2017!

 

What's the difference between The North Pole Express and the Santa Special?
"The North Pole Express runs at night when it is dark outside. We visit the North Pole, which is brightly decorated. Santa, Mrs. Claus, and the elves get on the train and visit with everyone. We have milk and cookies, sing Christmas carols with a live musician on board, and every child receives a Christmas gift. *Coach tickets are $27 per person (24 months and older), plus processing fee, C&NW "A" tickets are $37 per person (24 months and older), plus processing fee. First Class tickets are $47 per person (24 months and older), plus processing fee. The Santa Special trains run in the daytime. Santa rides on the train and visits with everyone on board. Every child receives a gift! Tickets are $17 per person (24 months and older), plus processing fee.


Can I purchase tickets at the Heart of Dixie Railroad depot?
If there are any seats remaining, you may purchase tickets in the depot one hour prior to departure. Tickets are not available for purchase at the depot other than one hour prior to departure. This event sells out every year - we strongly advise that you buy tickets in advance!

What are the ticket window hours?
The North Pole Express tickets are not available for purchase at the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum other than one hour prior to departure. However, this event sells out every year - we strongly advise that you buy tickets in advance! You may purchase tickets online at any time from our website at http://www.hodrrm.org

Do you offer refunds?
Refund Protection is available for your complete purchase for $20 at time of purchase. If you purchase Refund Protection, you have until 72 hours before your scheduled departure to receive a full refund. If you do not purchase Refund Protection, or if you wait until less than 72 hours before the event, there are no refunds. If you cannot use your ticket, you may want to give or sell your ticket to someone else.

Coupons:
We offer no coupons for the North Pole Express


My child is under 2 years old - do I need to purchase a ticket for him?
Children under 24 months of age ride free of charge though required to sit in an adult’s lap at all times. Infant tickets are not available online. Please notify the ticket agent upon your arrival at the Calera Depot that you have a child 0-24 months that will sit in your lap, and you will receive an infant ticket. For your safety, strollers and infant car seat carriers are not permitted aboard the train.

My child is just 2 years old - do I need to purchase a ticket for him?
Yes. Everyone who is 24 months or older must purchase a ticket.

My child is 2 years old - is this event appropriate for him?
That is up to you. The North Pole Express trains are at night, perhaps past little ones' bedtime. An alternative you might enjoy is the Santa Special train which runs during the day on the Saturday after Thanksgiving (Nov 28) and on Saturdays December 5, 12 and 19 at 11am and 2pm. On the Santa Special trains, Santa visits with everyone on board, and each child receives a Christmas gift.

Do you offer group discounts?
There are no discounts for The North Pole Express. *COACH seats are $27 for riders 24 months old and older, plus processing fee (EXCEPT: C&NW "A" railcar - tickets are $37 for riders 2 years old and up, plus processing fee due to the live musician being located in this section.) All FIRST CLASS seats are $47 for passengers 24 months old and older, plus processing fee. (Processing fee varies by order method: website $3 per ticket; phone orders $4 per ticket.)

Are there any advantages for groups?
Yes. Groups of 20 or more can purchase tickets for 2 weeks in advance of general public sales. Group sales start on MONDAY, JULY 10th at 9am CST.

What if I purchased tickets and can't attend the event?
Refund Protection is available for $20 at time of purchase. If you purchase Refund Protection, you have until 72 hours before your scheduled departure to receive a full refund. If you do not purchase Refund Protection, or if you wait until less than 72 hours before the event, there are no refunds. If you cannot use your ticket, you may want to give or sell your ticket to someone else.

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What to Expect

What happens on The North Pole Express?
Everyone boards the train at the Calera Depot. As the train rolls through the forests of Shelby County, we read a Christmas story. Magically, the train arrives at the North Pole, which is brightly decorated. Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves board the train and visit with everyone on board, so bring your cameras! We enjoy milk and cookies and sing Christmas carols. Everyone receives a Christmas gift!

How long does the train ride last?
The trip to the North Pole (including our time there visiting with Santa) will take slightly over one hour.

Live Music:
The entertainers will be located in the C&NW "A" railcar. Tickets are $37 plus processing fee. C&NW "A" passengers get all the amenities of a coach passenger such as milk and cookies with the added benefit of getting a front row seat to the live entertainers. The rest of the train will listed to the entertainment via the onboard sound system in each car.
Can we get off the train at the North Pole?
No. Santa and Mrs. Claus will get on the train to visit with you.

Gifts:
The gifts given are Christmas ornaments. Different ornaments are given in Coach and First Class. They change each year.

Can I buy any souvenirs at the museum?
There is a Gift Shop at the museum that sells gifts and souvenirs.

Stops:
The train does stop at the North Pole but we do not get off! Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves board the train.

Cameras:
Bring your cameras to capture your special moment with Santa!

Can we sit wherever we want?
Tickets are purchased for a specific railcar. You must sit in the railcar that you have purchased tickets for, but individual seats on the railcar are not assigned. Signs in the boarding area will indicate where to board each railcar. 

There aren't enough seats for my family in the railcar I want to sit in. Can we buy tickets in different railcars, but sit all together?
Tickets are purchased for a specific railcar. You must sit in the railcar that you have purchased tickets for. If you buy tickets in a different railcar for part of your group, they will have to sit in that other railcar. We suggest you look at a different date or time to find the number of seats you need altogether in the same railcar.

Are the seats padded?
Yes, the train seats are cushioned.

Is the seating elevated?
All train seats are the same level, except in dome coach MP 892 "The Eagle" , which has a limited number of seats that are upstairs in the dome section.

Decorations/View
The interior of each train car is decorated. The train lights are turned down or off during the story but the Christmas lights remain on. As we arrive at the North Pole outside is brillantly decorated on both sides of the train!

Is it better to sit on the left side or the right side of the train?
Although you must sit in the railcar indicated on your ticket, individual seats are not assigned. Both sides of the railroad tracks are decorated at the North Pole.

Handicapped/Wheelchair Seating
We have one wheelchair seat located in the Long Island car. When purchasing tickets, purchase the wheelchair ticket for the Long Island car and the rest of the tickets also for the Long Island. We do have a wheelchair lift. The wheelchair seat has a window view. Click Here for accessibility information

Can I bring a stroller / baby seat on the train?
Infant car seat carriers and strollers are not allowed on our trains for safety reasons. If your child is younger than 24 months,  you will be required to hold the child on your lap.

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The Train



Motive Power:
The North Pole Express is pulled by our EMD SW8 locomotives.

Are there bathrooms on the train?
There are no restrooms on the train. Facilities are available at the Museum's Gift Shop. We recommend that you use the bathrooms before boarding the train.

What are the differences between the First Class and Coach Class?
There are 2 classes of railcar: *COACH and FIRST CLASS. Passengers in Coach will be served a cookie, chocolate milk, and a gift. *There is an extra charge for C&NW "A " due to the live musician being located in this car. C&NW "A" passengers get all the amenities of Coach plus the added benefit of getting a front row seat to interact with the entertainers! Passengers in First Class will receive hot chocolate in a souvenir mug, a yummy dessert, and a premium gift. All railcars are decorated for Christmas. Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves visit with everyone on the train and everyone will enjoy the music provided by the entertainers via the on board sound system in each car!

First Class - CB&Q Chair Car 4741 "Silver Maple"
Built in 1948 for the Chicago Burlington & Quincy Railroad (CB&Q), the Silver Maple ran on the Zephyr. All 44 seats face each other in groups of four - ideal for families!

First Class - Santa Fe Chair Car 2823 "Kayenta"
The 2823 ran on the Santa Fe Super Chief. All 44 seats face each other in groups of four - ideal for families!

Coach Class - Frisco Coach 1062
Built in 1910, Frisco Coach 1062 provides an authentic classic experience! All 56 seats face forward.

Coach Class - C&NW Gallery Car 59 "A"
Chicago & Northwestern commuter coach. Seats face each other in groups of four -- perfect for families! The live musician is located in this railcar. The C&NW "A" passengers get the same amenities (cookies, milk, and gift) as coach passengers but have the added benefit of getting a front row seat to interact with the entertainers!

Coach Class - C&NW Gallery Car 59 "B"
Chicago & Northwestern commuter coach. Seats face each other in groups of four - ideal for families! This section is seperated from the C&NW "A" by a vestibule and does not contain the entertainers.

Coach Class - MP Dome Coach 892 "The Eagle" UPPER
The Upper Dome is the second level seating area surrounded by glass to give an excellent view of the North Pole! Passengers can see in all directions. There are 22 seats in groups of two that all face forward.

Coach Class - MP Dome Coach 892 "The Eagle" LOWER
MP 892 was built in 1948 as a "Planetarium Dome" for the Missour Pacific Railroad's "Route of the Eagles". Seats face each other in groups of four.

Coach Class - Long Island Coach 2972
Built in the 1950s for the Long Island Railroad commuter service. Seats face each other in groups of four. The Long Island Coach 2972 has a space and tie downs for one wheelchair. Click here for accessibility information.

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Food & Drinks

Do you serve food or drinks at the museum?
The Calera High School Band Boosters will be selling light snacks, hot cocoa and hot coffee outside of the Calera Depot before each train departure. Soft drinks and light snacks are also available for purchase in the Gift Shop. *Food and drinks are not allowed on the train.

Do you serve food or drinks on the train?
After the train arrives at the North Pole and Santa visits, COACH passengers will be served chocolate milk and a cookie. FIRST CLASS passengers will be served hot chocolate in a souvenir mug and a yummy dessert.

Do you serve alcohol?
Alcohol is strictly prohibited on the train and on the railroad museum grounds.

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Plan Your Visit

Where are you located?
1919 9th Street
Calera, AL 35040

Click here for Directions!

 

Directions:
From I-65, take Calera Exit #228 and go 0.6 miles south on Alabama Hwy 25. Turn left on 9th Street (at the Sav-Mor Food Outlet). Travel two blocks to the museum. Parking is on the left. Click here for a map!

What time should we arrive?
Please arrive at least one hour prior to your departure time. You must pick up your tickets in the Calera Depot before boarding the train (email confirmation will not get you on the train).

Where do customers park?
There is free parking available at the railroad museum.

What if I'm late and I miss the train?
The trains will depart the station promptly at the designated time, so we strongly recommend that you arrive at least one hour early. Interstate 65 has been known to be very slow coming from Birmingham, especially on Friday nights. If you should miss your train, we will do our best to put you on the next train after all ticket holders for that train have been seated. If you miss your train, we cannot guarantee you a seat on another train.

Can I smoke on the train?
Smoking is strictly prohibited on the train including e-cigarettes.

Is there a dress code?
Dress for the weather - you may have to stand outside before boarding the train. The North Pole Express is a Christmas bedtime story, so many people wear their pajamas!

What hotels in the area?

There are several options for lodging in and near Calera:

  • Holiday Inn Express
    357 Hwy 304, Calera, AL 205-668-3641

 

  • Hampton Inn
    93 Metro Drive, Calera, AL 205-668-6565

 

  • Candlewood Suites
    1004 Balmoral Drive, Alabaster, AL 205-620-0188

 

  • Holiday Inn Express
    260 Cahaba Valley Road, Pelham, AL 205-987-8888

Purchase Tickets for North Pole Express FAQ Here!