We awoke the next morning to rain, and plenty of cloud. It was stunning watching the clouds come and go over the mountains. We chilled around the cabin, played computers, and watched tv.
We decided to head out for some lunch at about 1. We headed up to Bryson City in the hope we would be able to find enough to do before boarding the Polar Express at 5. The weather was really quite terrible.
We headed to the ticket office first, so we could pick up our tickets for the train. We headed over the road to Nate and Nicks Pizza place for lunch. Don't think the hostess was best pleased with me declining the table right by the door, and wanting one further back. Did she not realize our children would scare off my potential customers?!? Any who, we were seated and order 2 small, one medium pizza between us. The boys shared a cheese, I had a make your own, and paul went for the Farmers speciality pizza. We also ordered some fries to keep the boys happy. We were not disappointed. The pizzas were delicious, and not a slice was left. We left happy and sated.
Included in our Polar Express tickets, was entry to the Smokey Mountain Trains Museum. The people in there didn't seem bothered to see our tickets, and were a little rude and disinterested. I am grateful this was included in the tickets, as it was not worth the $9 it should have cost
We have been pretty disenchanted with model railway displays recently. They all seem over priced, and not worth the money. After purchasing a few souvenirs, we still had nearly 3 hours till we could get on the train. We decided to head back to the cabin.
2 hours later we headed back to Bryson City. We arrived about an hour before the train left, and the town was buzzing! So many people.....
We decided to go and join the queue to get some snacks ready for the train
Ok, so it's not a steam train like the story. It is 2 engines, with about 9 carriages. So many people.....
After being held in a certain area (like animals), they were eventually ready to let us on the train. We were glad we waited around, as we were one of the first to get on in our carriage.
We set off, pretty much on time, with delightful music from the film playing. They then played part a reading from the story itself, as we meandered slowly through the beautiful countryside. We were served cookies and hot chocolate in a keep sake mug (we had chosen the middle tier of carriage, hence the keep sake).
We drove past Santas village, where we were able to wave to the great man himself, before he boarded the train. The people who live near Santas village in the North Carolina North Pole, had done an awesome job of decorating their houses. The staff aboard our carriage were able to point out whose house was who, rudolf, frosty etc. Santa then did a walk through of the train, giving out gifts. A silver bell, just like in the story.
And just like in the story, our boys managed to loose theirs under the seats. Luckily Paul was able to find them again (as well as lots of yucky litter......). We then partook in a delightful sing song, as the train wound its way back to Bryson City. It was fully dark by now, and it looked very pretty with all the lights
I *think* the boys had a good time. They did say it was awesome, yet could not wait to get back to the hot tub. For us adults, it was a little of an anti climax. You are led to believe it will be a magical experience, yet when you think how much you paid for the magic, it should be a lot better. Ok, it's supposed to be for kids, but their were an awful lot of adults, fully loving the magic. Perhaps if it had been a steam train it may have been better. Or they could have not packed you in like cattle?? I know they are old carriages, but to clean them during the day ready for the 3, (yes 3 Polar Express trips,) they run each day may not be too hard. I don't know. Maybe because we didn't grow up with the story, so don't feel the magic. We came away feeling a little uncomfortable with the amount of money we spent on this little excursion. I am pretty sure we will not go on another Polar Express train, unless it is a steam one, and that's only a maybe.
Hopefully the next day is better (and better value for money too!)