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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I set up an account prior to ticket on-sale dates?

Clicking the Create an Account link on the front page will allow you to set up an account (name, address, etc.) prior to ordering and purchasing tickets. Please use the billing address for your credit card to ensure your charge will go through. You are not able to enter payment information in advance, but since tickets are reserved for five minutes once you click Checkout, you will have plenty of time to enter your credit card information.

Do I have to set up an account?

No, setting up an account is optional. If you do not set up an account ahead of time, you will have to enter name, address, contact info, etc, during the checkout process.

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 photos, and a nice alternative to going to see Santa at the mall.

The North Pole Express is an evening 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. 

What is the difference between First Class and Coach seating?

Coach cars feature padded bench seats, approximately 60 passengers per car. 

First Class cars feature individual padded arm chairs, with 20-36 passengers per car (depending on car). First Class cars feature beverage service.

All cars are festively decorated for the holidays and the performance / experience is the same in both classes of service. 

How much are holiday train tickets?

North Pole Express coach tickets are $34.50 per person (all ages) and first class tickets are $66.50 per person. Tickets for Saturday departures, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, are $44.50 (coach) and $76.50 (First Class). Children under age 1 ride free, if seated on an adult lap - if the child requires a seat, they must have a ticket.

Santa Special coach ticket are $20.00 per person (all ages) and First Class tickets are $40.00 per person. First Class with Reindeer Breakfast option (10:30 am departures only) are $55.00 per person. Children under age 1 ride free, if seated on an adult lap - if the child requires a seat, they must have a ticket.

Is seating assigned or general admission?

North Pole Express tickets (both Coach and First Class) are assigned by car; you must purchase all tickets together to be sure that your party sits together.

Santa Special tickets are general admission. If you are meeting friends / family at Essex Station, simply board together in order to sit together.

Are there refunds?

There are no refunds or exchanges. Please ensure your availability and that of your ENTIRE GROUP prior to purchasing tickets. We encourage you to have multiple dates and times ready to order in case your first choice is not available.

The Essex Steam Train & Riverboat is not responsible for travel delays caused by accidents, road closures, road construction, weather, etc… Please use your judgment and allow ample travel time to arrive 30 minutes prior to your departure. Trains will depart on time and cannot be held for late arriving guests.

Trains operate during all weather conditions, but we reserve the right to postpone or cancel any train ride in extreme situations. If we must cancel a departure due to extreme conditions, a full refund will be issued. Otherwise your ticket is only Valid for the date and time on your ticket.

Will tickets be mailed?

Tickets will be mailed to the address provided on your order beginning Nov 1, 2016. Please make sure to open your envelope when received to check your tickets and to read important updated event information that will be included.

How many FULL CAR orders do you accept? Will all of the weekend tickets be gone before individual ticket sales begin? [North Pole Express]

We sell a limited number of full cars (coach and first class) to passengers seeking to purchase tickets for employees, large families, neighborhoods, or groups. However, we do not sell out ANY departure or ticket class prior to individual tickets going on sale, and each year we decline many full car orders for popular departures (weekends) in order to make sure individual tickets are available. 

We do not discount full car orders, and make full cars available solely as a customer convenience. We could easily sell out popular departure times with full car sales alone - and we do not do this so that individual customers also have an opportunity to purchase these tickets.

Since we mail out tickets individually after Nov 1 and track purchaser name / contact info, we have not had significant issues with ticket scalping or reselling.

What Full Car options are available, and at what prices? [North Pole Express]

We have the following "full car" options available:

Nov 26 - Dec 17
All Other
Coach Car (64 Seats)
All Departures
$2848 $2208
First Class (20 Seats)
3:30pm / 5:30pm / 7:30pm Departures
$1530 $1330
First Class (32 Seats)
5:00pm / 7:00pm Departures
$2448 $2128
First Class (36 Seats)
3:30pm / 5:30pm / 7:30pm Departures
$2754 $2394

Not all First Class car options are available for all departure times, Essex Station ticket agents will offer you available options at the time you call in.

If I begin the checkout process, are my tickets reserved / secure?

Yes! When a customer proceeds to checkout all of the items in their cart are put on hold for 5 minutes to give the customer a chance to complete the checkout without another customer purchasing the items and overselling them. Once you're at that stage in the checkout, your tickets are on hold for 5 minutes.

If I place tickets in my shopping cart, are they reserved / secure?

Not immediately. Tickets come out of inventory as soon as you click Checkout - but not when tickets are initially placed into the Shopping Cart.  If you put tickets in the Shopping Cart, and delay clicking Checkout, the tickets may be gone. Once you click Checkout, you have 5 minutes to finish the purchase, otherwise the tickets will return to inventory. 

Here's what Ticketmaster has to say about their shopping cart.

Like shopping carts on other sites, My Cart is how you keep track of the stuff you want (tickets, parking, t-shirts, etc.) while you continue browsing or leave the site to think about it. Unlike shopping carts on other sites, My Cart can't hold actual tickets, which means they can still be bought by other fans. We'll remember your ticket selections and other stuff in your cart so you won't have to start from scratch when you come back.
And here's what Amazon says about theirs:

Placing an available item in your shopping cart does not reserve that item. Available inventory is only assigned to your order after you click Place your order and receive an e-mail confirmation that we've received your order.

We use an industry standard eCommerce / shopping cart system (Shopify); we've tried really hard to find a better system, and we will continue to keep looking.

Can I come down to Essex Station to buy tickets directly?

We'd prefer you did not. We have a limited staff, working from the same computer systems as those purchasing online, and we do not set aside tickets for in person or walk-up sales. If there is any sort of waiting line for tickets, you will probably miss out on popular departure times, since online customers can purchase those tickets from home far faster than we can process orders in person. 

Are there per ticket or per order service charges / delivery charges?

No, we operate our own online store and fulfill tickets ourselves - so everything is included in the ticket price. Tickets for our Day Out with Thomas event, sold through Ticketmaster / HIT Entertainment, do require a per ticket service charge.

What credit card or payment methods do you accept?

Our shopping cart partner, Shopify, accepts Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Diner's Club, Discover, and JCB. In person orders (at Essex Station) also accept cash or check.