Transportation Museum wins award for ‘Polar Express’

Published 10:13 am Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The N.C. Transportation Museum received the Best Performance Award from Rail Events Inc. for “The Polar Express” Train Ride event.

The announcement was made Sept. 17, during the Rail Events Inc. reception featuring the presentation of the Polar Bell Awards. The reception was part of the Association of Tourist Railroads and Railway Museums conference held near Chicago, Ill.

“We are truly thrilled to accept this award,” said N.C. Transportation Museum Executive Director Kelly Alexander, who attended the Illinois conference. “Being able to accept this after our first year of putting on the event is a real credit to everyone involved.”

“The Polar Express” Train Ride at the N.C. Transportation Museum strives to capture the magic of the Chris Van Allsburg book and runaway hit movie from Warner Bros., featuring a train ride with dancing chefs, cookies, hot chocolate and a presentation of the first gift of Christmas, a silver bell for all those who believe in the spirit of Christmas. The train ride and associated activities include popular characters from the holiday tale, the conductor, the hobo, the boy in the story, and of course, Santa Claus.

The event takes place across the museum’s 57 acre site, using different locations around the former Spencer Shops steam locomotive repair facility. In order to create an all-encompassing experience, a state of the art sound system was added to the Barber Junction Visitor Center, thousands of lights were strung across the Bob Julian Roundhouse, and the Master Mechanic’s Office was transformed into “Candy Cane Lane.”

The museum also partnered with the Lee Street theatre for actors to portray the essential characters and Virtual Sounds to provide a soundtrack to the event.

“’The Polar Express’ Train Ride has so many moving parts, with a full size train ride, site decorations, over 300 passengers for three shows each night, three set ups for each show and other aspects to coordinate,” said Alexander.  “It was a great effort for our staff and volunteers to create that overall experience for our visitors.”

The Best Performance trophy was presented to the N.C. Transportation Museum from among 45 total sites that host”The Polar Express” Train Ride across the United States and Canada. The award was based on use of characters, sound quality, scripted content, use of the film for inspiration and overall presentation of the story to passengers.

The N.C. Transportation Museum will again be offering the event this year.  A final dress rehearsal happens Nov. 20, with event dates Nov. 21, 27-29, Dec. 4-6, 11-13 and 16-22. Some ride times have already sold out, particularly weekend dates in December.

For ticket information or purchase, please visit or call 704-636-2889 ext. 257 or 237.