Last year, several of Katie Wynn's classmates got to ride the Polar Express and ever since, she has BEGGED us to ride it too. Couple that with the fact that Thomas loves the "Holer Express" (how he says it) movie and we knew that this year we had to take them.
Our Elf, Coffee, doesn't do crazy things around the house but on the first morning they were out for Christmas break, Coffee had big news for the kids. He had written them a note telling them he had gotten them tickets to ride the train!
I took the pictures below of them with their fake tickets from my bed because they woke me up to show me. Notice there is no light coming in through the windows. It's Christmas break! Why aren't we sleeping in!?!
So we packed our bags, hit the road for a long drive, and checked into our hotel room later that afternoon.
Our train departure time was 5:00 so we changed the kids into their Christmas jammies and went to check in and get our official tickets.
We had a fair amount of time to kill before the train left the station, so we walked around and looked at the fountains and decorations. The kids thought this car was really cool.
Eventually, it was time to board the train and go!
Katie Wynn was super excited about getting her ticket punched, "just like in the movie!" and about getting hot chocolate. And she got both of those things! On the hour-long trip, they read the Polar Express story to us, served hot chocolate and cookies, sang Christmas carols, and we got to see lots of Christmas light displays out the window. Both kids really enjoyed all of it!
Santa came on board to visit with the kids and take pictures and, well, I think we all know how Katie Wynn felt about that.
Super excited about having "real bells from Santa's sleigh!!"
So, there was a "homeless man" sitting on top of the train when we boarded that called Katie Wynn "Polka Dots" as we walked by. Near the end of the trip he came onto the train and was hiding from the conductors and they tried to kick him off, yadda yadda. (All just some fun acting and entertainment.) Well, he recognized Katie Wynn's polka dots and sat down in our booth after "escaping" from the conductor and she was scared to death. The conductor came back and caught him and threw him off the train, but he grabbed our bag of souvenir mugs on his way out and poor baby girl just boo-hooed. The conductor brought them back and we had to explain that it was all just pretend. You can see the homeless man's hand in the picture below.
We highly recommend taking your kids on a ride if they are fans of the Polar Express movie or book! Definitely fun to experience with them at least once.
We had booked two nights in our hotel room but really hadn't decided what we would do the next day or if we would even stay the extra night. Our plan was to play it by ear, which is not something Matt and I are very good at. First thing the next morning, Katie Wynn and I found a place to get our nails done while Matt took Thomas with him to find a place to get a hair cut.
If Matt was writing this post, his advice to you would be to never get your hair cut while on vacation, especially by an old, possibly ex-military, man. That's how he ended up with a buzz cut for Christmas 2017.
We spent the rest of the morning walking around a little shopping area. We shopped and played arcade games and ate and rode up in this really tall balloon thing to get a view of the town.
We made it through lunch and then didn't know how to spend the afternoon. Find an attraction or hop in the car and start the drive home? We knew Silver Dollar City was nearby but we had heard it was kind of a full-day type of park and we'd already wasted half of ours. We went to a ticket store with the thoughts that if we could get tickets to some kind of afternoon show or event we would do that and if not, we would just head back. After talking to the man working the ticket counter, he convinced us that for our age kids, Silver Dollar City was where we needed to go. Plus, it didn't even open til 1:00 in the afternoon so it's not like we could have gone earlier even if we'd wanted to. We were still kinda hesitant because rain clouds were moving in and the tickets would be expensive, but we decided to give it a go anyway.
As we walked up to the front gates of Silver Dollar City and headed towards the line to buy tickets, we were approached by a couple and their kids. They asked if we already had tickets and we told them no. They happened to have an extra ticket that they weren't using that they graciously gave to Matt. And then, they told me they had family passes and that technically one more person could go in on their passes if I wanted to tag along. Isn't that the nicest thing ever?! Since Thomas was three, he got in free, so the only ticket we had to buy was one for Katie Wynn! What a little blessing that family was - I wish we'd taken a picture with them! We didn't necessarily need help buying tickets, but it was nice to know that if it started raining soon, we hadn't sunk a lot of money into the theme park for a short amount of time.
The weather had really dropped since the day before so our first stop in the park was to buy gloves for everyone and hats for me and Matt. Souvenirs for everyone! From there, we rode carousels and climbed in big tree houses and played carnival games and watched weavers and ate snacks.
When we made it to the kids' amusement rides, I could not believe Katie Wynn...for someone that was terrified of Santa Claus and even the nail technician when we were getting manicures that morning, this girl wanted to ride very single ride! And she was disappointed that a grown up had to ride with her!
You may be able to tell from those pictures that by then, the rain had come. It started out as a light drizzle and then turned to heavier sprinkles. It was picking up though to the point that the seats to the rides were soaking wet when we sat down and we occasionally had to stand under a steady drip while waiting in line. Our clothes were getting pretty soaked through and it was COLD!
Matt and I held out as long as we could but when it finally turned dark, we gave up. We had given the kids as much time at the park as we could and now we just wanted to be warm! We took one last picture under the Christmas lights and then hopped on the tram to get to our car.
Everyone slept good that night after a full day's worth of activities. The next morning we left for home, but not before getting breakfast at Hurts Donuts. They had some of the craziest flavored donuts we'd ever seen!
It was a really fun quick trip for our family of four (wish the big kids could've come!). We returned home on the 23rd, just one day to spare before Santa could come!