Do you believe in Christmas? That’s what the Polar Express explores for children and adults of all ages.  First a book by Chris Van Allsburg that became a hit movie featuring the voice of Tom Hanks, the story is about a boy's journey by train to the North Pole to rediscover his belief in Santa. 

Over the past few years, Polar Express train rides have been popping up around the U.S., giving children and families a real life experience of the magical events – dancing crew and all -- captured in the story.

With some more than 500,000 people taking Polar Express train rides in 2012, it’s fast become a family tradition, and the rides typically fill quickly. At the same time, it benefits historic railroads, most of which are not for profit, by helping them raise money to preserve their historic trains.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to put families on very historic railroad rides across the country,” says Allen Harper, who with his wife owns Rail Events, which licenses The Polar Express™ experience from Warner Brothers for railroads in the U.S. “One of the greatest joys I have is putting on The Polar Express train rides.”

While the rides all have many of the same activities, such as a reading of the book, hot chocolate and snacks, carols and dancing, and a trip to the North Pole, the décor, pre-boarding experiences, the types of trains and how they execute the event can be quite different.
Here are 5 of the best Polar Express rides around the U.S.