Posts Tagged ‘The Polar Express’

CVSR Rebrands Christmas Trains as North Pole Adventure

August 5, 2021

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad this week announced it has rebranded its holiday season trains as the North Pole Adventure™.

In past year the trains operated under license as The Polar Express. This year’s trips are scheduled to operate between Nov. 5 and Dec. 18.

The CVSR has operated Christmas-themed train rides for the past 27 years, although most trips in 2020 were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was time for a change,” CVSR President and CEO Joe Mazur in a statement. “After several years of the same program, the cancellation last year, and listening to feedback from our community, we felt it was the right time to introduce North Pole Adventure.”

Like the Polar Express trips, the North Pole Adventure trips will feature a journey to the North Pole with passengers writing letters to Santa Claus to be hand-delivered the North Pole’s postmaster.

“In 2019, we accepted letters to Santa and received an overwhelming response from the community,” Mazur said. “The children enjoyed it and we knew they wanted the opportunity to deliver letters to Santa – now they can.”

Other activities aboard the train will include enjoying hot cocoa and cookies, singing Christmas carols, interacting with Santa’s elves and a visit from Santa.

Tickets for North Pole Adventure trips will go on sale to CVSR members on Sept. 8 at 9 a.m.

For those who want to become members for early access, membership requests must be submitted by Sept. 6 by 4 p.m.

Public ticket sales will begin on Oct. 5 at 9 a.m. For more information on North Pole Adventure, visit

Pandemic Set Rail Preservation Back About a Decade

January 4, 2021

Thomas the Tank Engine appears on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad in May 2018. Lost of revenue from special events has contributed to the financial struggles of tourist railroads.

The COVID-19 pandemic may have set North American railway preservation back about a decade an analysis published on the website of Trains magazine concluded.

The pandemic forced hundreds of museums and tourist railroads to shut down or operate at reduced capacity, thus depriving them of needed revenue to pay bills and loans.

The analysis did not provide any details, but noted that some operations have closed permanently while others will find it difficult to reopen this year.

Some operations will need donations and/or government grants to get rolling again.

The scope of damage the pandemic caused to rail preservation operations may become clearer in the first and second quarters of this year as they make plans 2021 operations, the analysis said

One of the key money makers for some tourist railroads, The Polar Express and Thomas the Tank Engine, were unavailable in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Trains noted that at some railroads specials event revenue contributes more than 50 percent of the operating budget.

In Northeast Ohio, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad initially began Polar Express excursions, but halted them after about a week later due to surging COVID-19 virus rates in the state and region.

The Polar Express is the largest U.S. licensee of railroad-based performance event. In 2019, 62 locations hosted Polar Express trains. Those trains attracted 1.4 million riders in 2015.

The analysis noted that if there was an upside to the pandemic it was that some railroads that were closed were able to get work done on repair and restoration projects without the distraction of regular operations.

Trains wrote that railroads and museums that have endowments, generous trustees, creative staffs, and major financial supporters should be able to weather the pandemic in reasonably good condition.

CVSR Cancels Polar Express Runs to Pandemic

November 18, 2020

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad said today (Nov. 18) it would cancel its remaining Polar Express excursions this year due to increasing COVID-19 cases in Northeast Ohio.

The cancellation takes effect for all trips scheduled between Nov. 19 and Dec. 20.

Passengers who held tickets for the canceled trains will receive refunds although the railroad also is asking for donations to its annual fundraising campaign in order to offset the financial losses incurred from canceling Polar Express trains.

A CVSR news release noted that the Polar Express is the railroad’s largest fundraiser.

It also said those holding tickets could opt to receive CVSR gifts cars in lieu of a cash refund.

It is the second time this year the CVSR has suspended service due to the Pandemic.

In March the CVSR suspended operations in the early weeks of the pandemic and didn’t resume running until Oct. 1.

In a statement, CVSR President Joe Mazur said the Polar Express cancellations were prompted by a concern for the health and well being of CVSR passengers, personnel and the community.

Polar Express trips had begun on Nov. 6. In normal years, the CVSR shuts down for about a month once the Polar Express trips have ended.

It is unclear when it will resume operations or on what scale. In the past, the National Park Scenic resumed operating on weekends in mid to late January.


CVSR Polar Express Tickets to go on Sale to the Public on Wednesday Morning

October 12, 2020

The public sale of tickets for the 2020 Polar Express excursions on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad go on sale at 9 a.m. on Wednesday.

The excursions, which are based on the children’s book of the same name by Chris Van Allsburg, will be operating on the CVSR for the 27th year.

Sellouts are the norm and this year’s ticket available will be limited due to COVID-19 pandemic safety measures restricting trains to 50 percent of capacity.

The 90-minute excursions will run Nov. 6 through Dec. 20 with departures from Akron at 7 p.m. and Independence at 7:30 p.m.

Polar Express trains will not operate on Nov. 11 (Veteran’s Day) or Nov. 25-26 (Thanksgiving holiday period).

Tickets are $47 per person for Monday through Thursday trains and $49 per person for trains running Friday through Sunday.

Children ages 1 and younger do not need a ticket but must be seated on a parent or guardian’s lap for the duration of the trip.

Passengers will take a journey to the “North Pole” in Peninsula where elves, holiday decorations and Santa Claus will be waiting.

Santa will board the train there and greet passengers and pose for photographs.

During the trip to the North Pole the Polar Express tale will be read aloud. There will also be Christmas caroling and families are encouraged to wear their pajamas aboard the train.

All passengers will receive a hot chocolate packet and a cookie. Children will receive a silver bell and a brief visit with Santa.

Tickets must be purchased in blocks of four in facing coach seats. Limited blocks of six tickets are available for table car seating.

All tickets must be purchased online. Further information and links to the ticket sale pages are available at

Polar Express Tickets Go on Sale Oct. 2

September 27, 2019

The public ticket sale for the Polar Express trains of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad will begin at 10 a.m. on Oct. 2.

The annual Christmas-themed trains will operate between Nov. 8 and Dec. 21 and are among the railroad’s most popular trains.

Trains will depart from Rockside Road station in Independence and Northside station in Akron each evening for a journey to the North Pole, a.k.a., Peninsula.

CVSR said that his year the ticket platform at its website has been upgraded to a new configuration.

Tickets are only being sold online and buyers are asked to have multiple dates in mind in case their first choice is sold out

Early ticket sales are available to those who are CVSR members at the Brakeman level or above.

Memberships will be processed until Oct.1 at 3 p.m.

CVSR Seeking Polar Express Volunteers

September 18, 2019

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is seeking volunteers for its Polar Express trains that will operate between Nov. 8 and Dec. 21.

Volunteers must complete a volunteer agreement and undergo training.

Training sessions will be held at the Fitzwater Maintenance Yard, 7600 Canal Road, at 7 p.m. on Oct. 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 16, 17, 21, 23.

Training sessions will also be held at 7 p.m. on Nov. 5, 6 and 11, and at 10:30 a.m. on Nov. 16 and 30.

Polar Express volunteers help create a festive atmosphere on the train through personal interaction, song and techniques to engage visitors on their mythical trip to the North Pole.

The CVSR also said that it has year around volunteer opportunities for trainmen, concessionaire / server positions, office support positions, operations positions of conductor, engineer and brakeman, and maintenance support positions.

Qualifications and trains are required for operating positions and maintenance support jobs.

Upcoming orientation sessions for volunteers will be conducted at Fitzwater at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 16.

The volunteer agreement can be found online at

Information is available by calling 800-468-4070, extension 226.

CVSR Seeking Polar Express Volunteers

September 24, 2014

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad needs a few good elves. It also wouldn’t mind have Santa Claus come out to help, too.

The railroad is seeking volunteers to work aboard the 2014 Polar Express trains that will operate between Nov. 14 and Dec. 21.

Volunteer elves are needed to serve as readers, servers, and assistants on board the train, as well as Santa’s helpers at the North Pole. Volunteers are also needed to play Santa.

Volunteers will be asked to commit to at least four nights on the train; North Pole elves are asked to commit to at least six evenings.

Those under age 16 must volunteer with an adult. Those under age 14 may only volunteer at the North Pole. Volunteer groups are welcome and training will be provided.

Those interested may complete an online application at Information is also available at the Polar Express Hotline at 800- 468-4070 x 236.

This Polar Express theme is based on Chris Van Allsburg’s book The Polar Express, about young boy’s trip to the North Pole.

Children clad in pajamas board CVSR trains in either Akron or Independence and travel through Cuyahoga Valley National Park to hear the story of the Polar Express, enjoy hot cocoa and cookies, and sing carols. The North Pole is a decorated Peninsula station.

Tickets for the 2014 Polar Express trains will go on sale on Oct. 1 at the CVSR website. For ticket information visit





Saturday Santa Trains Trifecta

December 9, 2013

Santa arrives at Rockport yard in Cleveland. A nice surprise was NS 4610, the original Southern heritage unit, catching the honors this day.

Santa arrives at Rockport yard in Cleveland. A nice surprise was NS 4610, the original Southern heritage unit, catching the honors this day.

Saturday, Dec.7 was a busy day in Northeast Ohio if you were in search of holiday trains. I managed to photograph three of them, our company Santa train, one of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad’s “daylight” Polar Express trains and, finally, the annual train (or should I say engine) that delivers Santa to the waiting crowds in downtown Kent, Ohio

First up was the Norfolk Southern Christmas party that included Santa riding into town on a caboose to the delight of the waiting children (and adults).

Two added bonuses were passing another caboose we use that was close and a visit by a fallen star, the NS 4610, the original Southern heritage unit.  After that, it was a stop on the way home to catch the southbound CVSR Polar Express runs at Bath Road near Akron.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Alco power on both ends as this train has rated that not so attractive NS paint out LTEX  No. 1420, a GP15-1, on the south end. The final train of the day – or should I say night – was the Kent Santa train. Every year engineer Bob Rohal adorns Shelly Materials ex-DMIR SD18M No. 321, better known as Flash and delivers Santa to downtown Kent.

This year’s theme was the Candy Cane Express and it made a fine sight pulling into Kent on these former Erie Railroad rails. I always like to catch this decorated unit at twilight just before the run.

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee











‘Christmas Carol’ Train to Roll into Cleveland

August 31, 2009

A special Amtrak train touring the country to promote the Walt Disney Studios film A Christmas Carol will be on display in downtown Cleveland on September 16 and 17.

The tour, which began in Los Angeles on May 22 and is scheduled to end on November 1 in New York, will cover more than 16,000 miles and make 40 stops. Cleveland will be its 28th destination. The train will arrive in Cleveland after a September 11-13 visit to Louisville, Kentucky, and depart for Albany, New York, after its Cleveland run has ended.

There is no admission charge to tour the train. The boarding site will be a parking lot of Cleveland Browns Stadium at 1085 West Third Street. The train will be open between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. on both days.

The train will contain numerous interactive displays, a sneak preview of the movie, which opens in theatres on November 6 and is based on the classic Charles Dickens story. Disney has billed the train as a rolling Disneyland exhibit. The film, which stars Jim Carrey playing Ebeneezer Scrooge and all three of the Christmas ghosts, was filmed in 3-D.

Director Robert Zemeckis used updated versions of the performance-capture technology that he employed in the 2004 film The Polar Express. “What brings a smile to me is that it harks back to the earliest promotional idea, now new again,” Zemeckis told USA Today. “When the circus would come to town, the train would park, and they’d have the circus parade through town and then set up the tents. This is the 21st-century version of that. You get to see all these wonders, it’s free, and then you hope they show up later.”

The exhibits will includ the following, according to USA Today:

  • A digital gallery of the film’s characters and their design evolution. Each portrait will digitally change and show how they were created.
  • Artifacts from the Charles Dickens Museum in London, including a first edition of the original novel and some of the author’s personal writing paraphernalia.
  • A display of performance-capture technology, in which the real actors’ movements and expressions are recorded and digitized, then used for animated renderings.
  • Interactive games, including a face-morphing photo booth that will blend the visitor’s visage with Scrooge’s.

The Christmas Carol train’s equipment includes an Amtrak P42DC locomotive painted in a special livery to promote the film, four streamliner-era passenger cars that reportedly were used by the Artrain before it began switching to trucks to transport its mobile exhibits, and a private car.

For more information contact the train’s Web site at: