North Pole Express FAQ

Tickets

When do ticket sales begin?

  • Group Sales (20+) on sale: Monday, July 12, 2021 - 9:00 a.m. CDT
  • Individual Tickets on sale: Monday, July 26, 2021 - 9:00 a.m. CDT

What are the train times?

  • Friday, November 19
    • 5:00 p.m.
    • 6:30 p.m.
    • 8:00 p.m
  • Saturday, November 20
    • 5:00 p.m.
    • 6:30 p.m.
    • 8:00 p.m
  • Sunday, November 21
    • 5:00 p.m.
    • 6:30 p.m.
    • 8:00 p.m
  • Friday, November 26
    • 5:00 p.m.
    • 6:30 p.m.
    • 8:00 p.m
  • Saturday, November 27
    • 5:00 p.m.
    • 6:30 p.m.
    • 8:00 p.m
  • Sunday, November 28
    • 5:00 p.m.
    • 6:30 p.m.
    • 8:00 p.m
  • Friday, December 3
    • 5:00 p.m.
    • 6:30 p.m.
    • 8:00 p.m
  • Saturday, December 4
    • 5:00 p.m.
    • 6:30 p.m.
    • 8:00 p.m
  • Sunday, December 5
    • 5:00 p.m.
    • 6:30 p.m.
    • 8:00 p.m
  • Friday, December 10
    • 5:00 p.m.
    • 6:30 p.m.
    • 8:00 p.m
  • Saturday, December 11
    • 5:00 p.m.
    • 8:00 p.m. only
  • Sunday, December 12
    • 5:00 p.m.
    • 6:30 p.m.
    • 8:00 p.m
  • Friday, December 17
    • 5:00 p.m.
    • 6:30 p.m.
    • 8:00 p.m
  • Saturday, December 18
    • 5:00 p.m.
    • 6:30 p.m.
    • 8:00 p.m

*All Times CST

How much are tickets?

  • Ages 2+ in Coach Cars (Frisco, Long Island, Lower Eagle, Upper Dome, C&NW-B): $28
  • Ages 2+ in Entertainment Coach Car (C&NW-A): $38
  • Ages 2+ in First Class Cars (Silver Maple & Santa Fe): $48
  • Under age 2 seated in an adult’s lap (does not include onboard snacks): FREE -Please reserve your infant's ticket through the online ticket system or before your train at the Calera Depot's ticket window.

What's the difference between The North Pole Express and the Christmas at the Station?

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.

Christmas at the Station is a newly reimagined daytime holiday event at the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum each Saturday before Christmas in December. Bring the family for a fun-filled Christmas experience riding trains, seeing Santa, exploring a festive maze, and more on the Museum grounds!

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!

Do you offer refunds?

You may request to cancel this ticket order for a full refund up to ONE WEEK BEFORE the date of your scheduled departure. Cancellations requested within the week before the event may be transferred to a different date/time only if available. Cancellation requests made within 72 hours of the scheduled date/time will not receive a refund for any reason and should not expect a transfer of date/time. When you purchase your tickets for this event, you agree to these terms.

Coupons?

We do not offer any coupons for the North Pole Express.

My child is under 2 years old - do I need to purchase a ticket for him?

Children 0-24 months ride free of charge though required to sit in anadult’s lap at all times. Infant tickets are not available online. Please notify theticket agent upon your arrival at theCalera Depotthat you have a child 0-24 monthsthat will sit in your lap, and you will receive an infant ticket. For your safety, strollers andinfant 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 Christmas at the Station train which runs during the day on Saturdays, starting after Thanksgiving until December 18.

Do you offer group discounts?

There are no discounts for The North Pole Express. Ticket prices are as listed above.

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 12 at 9:00 a.m. CST.

What if I purchased tickets and can't attend the event?

Our Refund policy is outlined above.

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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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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:

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Note: Ticket 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:

Our team has worked hard to ensure a safe and relaxing time for your family onboard our train. Please be sure to follow all verbal directions from your car hosts and adhere to all posted safety and sanitation guidelines on the train and throughout the grounds.

Be Aware of Federal Health Mandates:

The Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum operates under the guidelines of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). COVID restrictions regarding masks, social distancing, etc. will be based on any active FRA mandates at the time of the event.

Limited Accessible Seating Available:

If someone in your party needs to reserve a space for a wheelchair, please add all other passengers' tickets to your order first and at checkout, you will be asked to add the ADA space reservation to complete your order.

Infant Tickets

Children 0-24 months ride free of charge though required to sit in an adult’s lap at all times. When ordering your tickets, select "Coach Infant" for no additional charge. If you did not order an infant ticket with your initial order, 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.

Wheelchair Accessibility

Our train has wheelchair accessible accommodations on the Long Island 2972 and Open Air Car 1121. Wheelchair loading and unloading occurs at the Calera Depot with a MobiLift wheelchair lift. We do not have wheelchair boarding capabilities at stops such as Ozan Winery. Note: A person in your party must be in a wheelchair to purchase this ticket. This is only a space for a wheelchair, no seat is provided.

Click here for more accessibility information.

Refreshments

Snacks and drinks are available for purchase at our Gift Shop and at the Meadow. Purchases at the Meadow are for cash only.

The Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum's policy is that no food or drinks be brought on the train. Please finish your refreshments before boarding the train at the depot. This policy also applies to any intermediate train stops where food or drinks may be sold.

Restrooms

There are no working restrooms on our vintage railcars. Please use the restroom at the Gift Shop prior to boarding.