I‘ve ridden the Christmas Train twice – once many years ago, and more recently within the last five years. On the first occasion I took my niece and nephew, and I have very good memories of it; it just so happened that everything came together that day to make for the perfect experience. The night before, there was a light snow with the arrival of an arctic front, so seeing the train puffing great clouds of steam in the frosty air, with Santa hanging out of the Engineer’s window…well, it just doesn’t get any better than that. The elves brought candy canes to start, followed by the arrival of a banjo player and the singing of Christmas carols, in turn followed by the arrival of Santa, who sat with each child and heard their Christmas wishes.
The ride seemed longer that first time, and I have to confess that it didn’t feel the same when I rode the train just a few years ago with a friend and her daughter. The inside of the particular car in which we were seated smelled heavily of mildew, was long overdue for a fresh coat of paint, and the decorations seemed sparse and scruffy – almost like an afterthought. Worse, the train was probably stopped for just as long as it was moving, in order to give people an opportunity to peruse the gift shop. Also, the Santa, while genteel, was perhaps a little too genteel; no mighty ho-ho’s or hearty laughs, here.
Another thing: on the drive down the muddy lane that leads into the place, the various decorations – big plastic candy canes and the like – looked like they hadn’t been replaced since the place opened. I’m talking post-nuclear holocaust candy-canes, here. Maybe that’s changed in last few years. One can always hope.
On the other hand, I don’t think the railway gets any Federal funding, as many historical projects do, so if things are less than optimal, I can understand that.
What it comes down to is that a young child will like it, period, just for the Santa part alone, and the train ride adds a novelty that just can’t be found anywhere else, locally.
For more information, see the Lake Whatcom Railway Website. Don’t delay: it’s strictly by reservation, on a first-come-first-serve basis, and you actually have to send them a check and then receive the tickets by snail-mail. Hard to believe they don’t have a PayPal account yet, but well….
One more thing: it’s on the pricey side considering that the entire distance covered isn’t even ten miles, at a snail’s pace. Supposing you have two kids over two years of age, and both Mom and Dad go, it will cost you $42, up front. If you’re on a budget, that money might be better-spent somewhere else.
Cost: Adults – $14; Under 18 – $7.00; Under 2 years – Free