What does my THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Ticket include?

Each ticket includes a THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride; each ticketed passenger is served hot chocolate and a cookie treat by THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Chefs. Santa will board the train at the North Pole, and as we head back to Stearns Depot, Santa will be on board and walk through each car to give out the "first gift of Christmas" -- the sleigh bell -- to each child. We will all join in and sing Christmas Carols as we return to the station.

Pricing Information:

  • $40/seat coach
  • $55/seat first class

Stearns Depot Location:

Located on KY Rt. 92 in beautiful Stearns, Kentucky, Big South Fork Scenic Railway is little over an 2 hours from Lexington, less than two hours from Knoxville, and three hours from either Louisville or Nashville. Here’s a helpful Google Maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/4JFJdzmStTS2


There is FREE parking at the Depot. Please inform the parking lot attendant of members of your party who are not able to walk from outlying parking to the Depot so that you can be taken by golf cart or shuttle to the Depot. Those parties that do not need assistance will be directed to the closest available space by the parking attendants. The farthest parking areas are approximately 200 yards from the Depot.

Please be sure to bring umbrellas, ponchos, rain gear, and suitable shoes in case of inclement weather.

How long is the Event?

The train ride is approximately one hour. Please come approximately 45 minutes before your departure time to pick up tickets. Please not that Big South Fork Scenic Railway operates on EASTERN STANDARD TIME. You can shop in our gift shop, purchase food from vendors, as well as color or write a letter to Santa in the Activity Area.

What can I expect on the Train Ride?

At approximately 20 minutes prior to your departure time, you will line up according to the boarding point listed on your ticket. Children ages two years and under, do not require a ticket and MUST be seated on an adult’s lap while on board the train. Once on board, you will travel to the "North Pole" while we read the story of The Polar Express. THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Chefs will dance through the cars as each ticketed passenger is served hot chocolate and a cookie treat. As the train passes the North Pole, you will catch a glimpse of Santa, who will board the train for the return trip. As you head back to the Depot, Santa will be on board and walk through each car to give out the "first gift of Christmas" -- the sleigh bell -- to each child. We will all join in and sing Christmas Carols as we return to the Depot.

What can I expect in First Class?

First Class passengers will board their assigned cars and find their deluxe, reserved seats. Each ticketed passenger will receive hot chocolate served in a ceramic souvenir mug, and a special cookie. First Class Waiters and Chefs will be assigned to each coach. Chefs will convenientlly escort you to your reserved seats in First Class.

What is Coach seating like?

Coaches are reserved, with open seating in each coach. Chefs will assist passengers in filling open seating coaches from front to rear to insure seating for all. Our coaches hold between 40 and 54 passengers, depending on the car. The seats are a combination of upholstered bench seats or tables- tables seats groups of four easily, while bench seats hold two people each- our chefs onboard will do everything they can to assist you in configuring your seats to accommodate your entire group- please let us know at time of boarding how large your group is. All seats will be filled so please do not bring car seats or carriers for children under two, as they will need to be in an adult’s lap. Strollers will looked after at the Depot, and are also not allowed on the train.

Will I receive a confirmation?

Yes. You will receive an email confirmation, or confirmation number for phone reservations. Email addresses will allow us to send the confirmation and any updates about the event. All tickets will be held at the passenger station for pick-up the day of the event.

Tickets are held on a Will Call basis and will not be mailed to you. You will need to arrive 45 minutes before your train ride to pick up your tickets. The Big South Fork Scenic Railway operates on EASTERN STANDARD TIME. Have your confirmation email available as your proof of purchase. Tickets may not be picked up in advance. They may only be picked up on the day of your train ride.

Where do I pick up my tickets?

All tickets will be held in Will Call, located inside the Stearns Depot. Please note the exact date and time of your tickets when you place the order. Check your confirmation email to insure arriving for the proper date and time. Again, The Big South Fork Scenic Railway operates on EASTERN STANDARD TIME.

Can I cancel or change the date if my plans change? What about discounts?

Unfortunately, special event ticket sales are final. Events are held regardless of weather. Tickets are not refundable due to weather, change in your plans, etc. Polar Express train ride tickets sell out very quickly, so there is very little possibility for re-scheduling. Because of the special nature of the event, the railroad will not honor any discounts, promotions, etc. from our regular tourist season, which concludes on Oct. 29th.

Do you sell official merchandise for THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride?

THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride event will feature a variety of themed merchandise. Cash, and credit cards are accepted. An extensive selection of railroad-related merchandise is also available from the Railroad Gift Shop, along with souvenirs, books, videos, posters and gifts. The Gift Shop will open two hours prior to the first trip of the day.

Will food be available at this event?

Food is available at the event site - If you wish to come early or stay later after the ride, there is a restaurant located conveniently at the Depot, serving a variety of great, hot food.

Do the trains depart on time?

Yes, the trains must leave on time to avoid delays to hundreds of passengers. We suggest you arrive approximately 45 minutes prior to your departure time to pick up your tickets. The Big South Fork Scenic Railway operates on EASTERN STANDARD TIME. Please check your directions and drive time and allow for weather or traffic delays to avoid disappointment. (Remember, there is a restaurant with excellent food on site if you are delayed and need to feed children.)

Do we get off the train? 

No. Passengers stay on the train. Santa boards the train at the “North Pole” and will greet passengers in each car.

How can I sit with my friends?

Coach Seating is assigned by car, but not seats. PLEASE line up with your companions and you will be sitting close together- that is the only way to guarantee this. Reservation agents will do their best to seat groups together; however, there is no guarantee on seating arrangements. First Class is similar to coach, however your seats will be reserved for the size of your group. Arrange your groups to book under the same reservation for close seating in First Class.

Can we wear pajamas and bring our copy of the book?

Yes! We encourage families to dress in warm pajamas and bring your The Polar Express book for the Conductor to sign if you wish. Be sure to dress warmly enough to walk comfortably to and from your car, and make sure that everyone is wearing appropriate footwear. Some areas of the train station are covered or indoors, and others are open to the elements. The coaches are enclosed and heated for the trip.

Restrooms and Diaper-Changing Facilities

There are restrooms aboard the train, but since they’re not in every car, we strongly recommend a trip to the bathroom before departure time, to avoid the need to walk to an adjacent car’s restroom mid-train ride- we'd hate for you to miss any of the fun! Restrooms are available in the Depot. The train ride is one-hour long, so please plan accordingly.

Will my infant need a ticket?

No. Children two and under do not need a ticket. They must be seated on an adult’s lap while on the train. Infants cannot be placed in a carrier or car seat on the train, they must be held. If you must use a child carrier seat, a ticket is required.

Can we bring our baby stroller?

Strollers and baby carriers are NOT allowed aboard THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride, due to limited space and narrow aisles aboard the train and the need for staff to move about freely during the trip. Strollers left at the depot are the responsibility of the passenger, but we'll try to ensure their security as well as we can.

Access for persons with disabilities

Limited space is available for persons requiring wheelchairs or other assistive devices, however large motorized scooters will not fit aboard the THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train, so please be sure to mention this when purchasing your tickets to the event. If you need any assistance pre-boarding the train, please inform the Reservation Agent when booking your tickets. Please remind us at the ticket window and a staff member will assist with pre-boarding your group.

If you require special accommodation, please notify us in advance of your visit by e-mailing us via the "contact us" page on our home page, or by calling our ticket sales number.

My child has food allergies; can you accommodate special dietary requests?

Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate special requests. We will be serving hot chocolate and a cookie. Passengers with allergies may bring their own cookies and hot chocolate. Please communicate with the Chefs on board so that we may serve your treats.

Cookies are produced in facilities that may have handled nuts.

Will every person receive a bell?

Every Child on the train will receive a bell from Santa. If your party includes developmentally challenged adults, please communicate with the Chefs on board so that Santa can be alerted so we can ensure that they receive a bell.

Will the ride be cancelled if it is bad weather?

Winter wind, rain, snow or other adverse conditions are possible, and the THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride will operate as scheduled regardless of weather. All seating aboard trains is indoors; no open-air cars are included on the train. Please check weather conditions prior to your visit and dress accordingly. Rides will be cancelled ONLY if a state travel emergency restriction order is issued. Please check the website or Facebook before traveling if severe weather is predicted. Please plan sufficient travel time in case of inclement weather- traffic and weather conditions may double the travel time to the event. Remember, the railroad operates on EASTERN STANDARD TIME!

If I haven’t read the book or seen the movie will I still have a good time?

Absolutely! You can read along or just listen as we read the storybook on our train ride to the North Pole. If you have read the book or seen the movie you will feel like you’ve stepped off the pages as we recreate the story with your child as a part of the cast.

Are there different prices for Adults and Children?

As the event is designed for children of all ages, there is no additional charge for adult passengers.