There's a lot of really rubbish Santas around this year folks. Few manage to really pull off the magic of Christmas for those that struggle 'to believe' (mainly those over the age of 10) like Weardale Railway's Polar Express Experience just north of the Yorkshire boarder.
OK it’s not in Yorkshire – but neither is the North Pole and at this time of year one has to visit the North Pole.
We arrived at Weardale Railway Station, situated in the middle of a housing estate in the village of Weardale in Bishop Auckland in the North of England to find quite literally hundreds of folk of all ages dressed in their PJs, onesies and dressing gowns – a very odd sight and worth the two hour journey just for this! Naturally my husband and I were a little nervous at the thought of going outside in public in our dressing gowns for fear of people thinking we may have escaped from a local home, but we had no need to worry….
We followed the pajama-clad crowds and joined the very long queue to pick up our golden tickets from the ticket office. Only on the Polar Express would a crowd this big (we are talking 300 people plus) be able to collect tickets in such record time. The magic reindeer dust obviously sped the ticket desk up because it no time at all we had our tickets in hand and were boarding the Polar Express.
I can only imagine what the recruitment section of the Weardale Weekly local rag is like around November every year. I expect it reads like this:
Seasonal Job Vacancies
WANTED – 12 x 6.2 men in their 50s who resemble Tom Hanks. Must have short moustache and glasses. Willing to work every day over the Christmas period.
Everyone was greeted at the door of one of the twelve carriages by a Polar Express conductor and ushered to their seats. Again the magic reindeer dust must have been sprinkled because in no time at all, all 300 plus guests were seated and ready to go.
No sooner had the train pulled out of the station the dancing started and the soundtracks to the famous film were belting out. How the hell they managed to do such justice to the moves in a two foot gap of an aisle I’ll never know. But they did it with gusto, and all the adults dressed rather ridiculously in some very interesting choices of nightwear cheered and sang along whilst our broods looked on in awe.
Next they were serving us hot chocolate and cookies all whilst telling us to keep a watch out of the window as we were approaching the North Pole. And sure enough, through the windows to the left of our carriage, there it was in its full glory, the North Pole with Santa on the most incredible sleigh complete with reindeers and helpers who where waving at us as we chugged along.
Apparently we were suppose to stop at the North Pole but we didn’t. The conductor then announced that someone in the carriage didn’t ‘believe’. Some poor chap in his Rudolph onesie was then pointed out to be the non-believer and was made to declare rather loudly he now believed. Much to his embarrassment.
With a carriage full of believers the Polar Express came to a halt and back we went the other way. This time we stopped at the North Pole to allow Santa and his elves to board. Again, the magic reindeer dust was doing its job as Santa made his way through 12 carriages in about 20 minutes! Not sure where the conductor disappeared to though?
Well of course you can only imagine the looks of the faces of the children as they were all given their very own bell by Santa. Meanwhile me and the rest of the mums are all uncontrollably blubbering at our little angels who really do believe this is all for real!
Absolutely awesome and well worth the journey folks.
It’s not every day that I’m allowed to go out in my PJs – and after that I BELIEVE!
Book your ticket on the Polar Express here:
The cost for a family of four is £84 in standard class.