The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad recently announced that their 2013 schedule of run dates for The Polar Express are filling fast, and that local families who want to experience this journey to the North Pole need to reserve as soon as possible.
The Polar Express train ride, based on the 2004 holiday feature film from Warner Bros. and the beloved children's book written by Chris Van Allsburg, brought over 9,000 people from a dozen neighboring states to Elkins last year to relive the journey of a doubting young boy to the North Pole.
According to John Smith, Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad Inc., president, the nationally franchised Polar Express event scheduled for 2013 departs Elkins for Belington beginning Nov. 7. Due to popular demand, the company increased departures from 41 in 2012 to 50 for the coming 2013 season. The 2013 season that will extend to Dec. 15.
Photo courtesy of Mark William Branciaroli
A group of children enjoy a ride on The Polar Express last year.
According to Smith, The Polar Express 2013 schedule was added to the company's online reservation system in December 2012 and as of this week, nearly 10,000 seats have already been sold and 13 dates are completely booked. Full capacity is 14,000.
"It is unbelievable how popular this event has become. We have had to increase our departures every year to accommodate the demand," Smith said. "We had so many disappointed people the past two years because we filled so early. We do not want to be in that position in 2013," Smith added.
"We offer a great product and happy families are spreading the word daily," added Smith. "We are selling tickets every day."
According to Reservations Manager, Shane Yeager, seats are still available on the following dates and departure times:
5 p.m.: November: 7, 8, 14, 15, 21; December: 4, 5, 11, 12;
7:15 p.m.: November: 7, 8, 10, 14, 21; December: 4, 5, 8, 11, 12
As with the 2011 and 2012 holiday offerings, the railroad will again be partnering with the adjacent RailYard Restaurant to incorporate the RailYard Holiday Package 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.
As The Polar Express event has grown each year so has community involvement during the scheduled run dates. From early November to the middle of December, the entire town of Elkins becomes Santa's Workshop, complete with elves (local artisans and crafters) making toys and products to take home, local shops offering scheduled demonstrations and workshops for the children, hayrides through the town, and even a bonfire or two for roasting marshmallows.
New this year, the Elkins Cinema will be offering showings of the movie, The Polar Express, throughout the departure season. Other activities are in the works, but are too early to announce.
"The Polar Express 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," explained Smith. "The Polar Express event kept our employees working longer by extending our season into mid-December," Smith added.
The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad is one of 30 excurison railroads across the country to offer The Polar Express national franchise, and the only company within the mid-Atlantic region.
For Polar Express seating availability and other event information, call the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad at 1-866-241-9910 or to reserve online, www.MTN-RAIL.com
The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad operates from April through mid-December, departing from two locations (Elkins in Randolph County and Durbin in nearby Pocahontas County.) The DGVR offers unique rail excursions into the West Virginia mountain region and countryside, popular Murder Mystery dinner trains, a Castaway Caboose option, and other special event train excursions.