FAQ


Santa Special: What is the difference between the Santa Special and the North Pole Express?

The Santa Special is a daytime trip aboard festively decorated rail cars. It's a shorter ride (great for younger children) without car hosts or refreshments. Santa and Mrs. Claus spend more quality time with young passengers. It's a great opportunity to take holiday photo, and a nice alternative to going to see Santa at the mall. The North Pole Express is a night time experience - passengers travel to the North Pole to pick up Santa Claus; each coach features an elf, fairy, or reindeer host who entertains with stories, songs, and performance. Cookies and hot chocolate are served, and Santa and Mrs. Claus move through the cars greeting the passengers with a small gift. North Pole Express operates Thurs - Sun in November, Tues - Sun in December, with departures at 5:00 pm, 5:30 pm, 7:00 pm, and 7:30 pm. Buy tickets online starting September 9, 2015. Santa Special operates weekends only (plus Friday, Nov 28), with departures at 11:30 am, 1:00 pm, and 2:30 pm. Buy tickets online starting October 6, 2015.


Steam Train & Riverboat: What are the different seating options?

Our standard seating is in Coach Cars, with padded bench seats. For an additional charge customers can choose our First Class car, Open Car (seasonal), or our Caboose (caboose weekends only).


Steam Train & Riverboat: Is there air conditioning or heat on the train and/or riverboat?

When the weather warrants, there is steam heat on the train. There is no air conditioning on the train or boat, however a natural breeze can be felt on both.


Steam Train & Riverboat: Are there bathrooms on the train and/or riverboat?

There are small bathrooms available on the train and the boat. It is suggested to use the bathrooms at Essex Station before your excursion.


Steam Train & Riverboat: How long are the excursions?

The Steam Train excursion is 1 hour round-trip; the Steam Train & Riverboat combination excursion is 2.5 hour round trip. For the Gillette Castle Connection, excursions range from 4 hours to 5.5 hours round trip.


Steam Train & Riverboat: How do I get back to my car?

All excursion are round trip and leave from and return to Essex Station. For those taking the Steam Train & Riverboat combination excursion, the train will bring you to the riverboat and pick you up afterwards.


Steam Train & Riverboat: Do I need to purchase tickets in advance?

Advance tickets are recommended. Tickets can be purchased online until 2 hours before departure or by phone until 5:00 pm the day before the departure. Tickets are available for walk up sales on the day of the excursion, but not all departures and seating options may be available. Please arrive at least 30 minutes before the departure time. Gift certificates can only be used with phone and walk up purchases. Complimentary passes can only be applied with walk up sales and cannot be used with advance purchases. Steam Train & Riverboat tickets must be picked up at Essex Station on the day of your excursion (no tickets are mailed or emailed in advance).  


Steam Train & Riverboat:How much are tickets?

Steam Train and Riverboat ticket pricing can be found on our Schedule & Fares Page. Special seating (Open Car, First Class, and Caboose) require an extra charge per ticket. We offer senior discounts (10%, 20% on Mondays off regular ticket prices) and group and family discounts.


Steam Train & Riverboat:When does the Steam Train & Riverboat operate?

Our Steam Train & Riverboat excursion operates daily during our summer season, with limited operation (weekends and some weekdays) May though October. Check our Calendar Page for operating dates. Departures are 11:00 am / 12:30 pm / 2:00 pm / 3:30 pm, with Riverboat connection on all but the 3:30 pm departure. On busy weekends we may add a 3:30 pm Riverboat connection.