The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad recently announced its 2012 run dates for The Polar Express.
The train ride, based on the 2004 holiday feature film from Warner Bros. Pictures and the beloved children's book written by Chris Van Allsburg, brought more than 5,800 people from a dozen neighboring states to West Virginia to relive the journey of a doubting young boy to the North Pole. The Elkins-based company sold out all 26 departures, running within a five-week period, one week prior to the inaugural run on Nov. 12.
John Smith, president of Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad Inc., said the $145,000 invested by the company to bring the nationally franchised Polar Express event to Elkins for the next three years was money well spent.
"This initiative has brought dollars to our community during a slow season in a down-turned economy, as well as helped maintain our momentum as a West Virginia attraction offering multiple rail excursions," Smith said. "The Polar Express event kept our employees working longer by extending our season into mid-December."
The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad is one of 30 excursion railroads across the country to offer The Polar Express national franchise, and the only company within the mid-Atlantic region.
Smith said The Polar Express 2012 schedule recently was put on the company's online reservation system and includes the following dates: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays beginning Nov. 9 and running to Dec. 15.
The 2012 schedule was extended to include one more weekend in December and select Thursdays, increasing departures from Elkins to Belington from 26 to 40 for the 2012 holiday season.
"We had to increase our departures," Smith said. "We had so many disappointed people because we filled so early. We do not want to be in that position in 2012."
Smith said nearly 2,000 tickets have already been reserved for the 2012 season.
As with the 2011 holiday offerings, the railroad will again partner with the adjacent Railyard Restaurant to incorporate the Railyard Holiday Package available in 2012 for both Friday and Saturday departures. Polar Express attendees can choose from lunch or dinner (depending upon departure time), take in an hour of classical Christmas music performed by local jazz musicians Seth Maynard, Rich Norwood and Scott Green.
New plans include packaging the adjacent American Mountain Theater Christmas Extravaganza on Thursdays and Sundays.
Information is available at 1-877-686-7245 or www.mountainrail.com.