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Sat, July 04

Polar Express heads to North Pole Friday
Grand Canyon Railway implements new schedule and extra time between runs

WILLIAMS, Ariz. - Grand Canyon Railway has changed the times for its popular Polar Express runs and is accepting reservations.

This year's nightly Polar Express runs will depart at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Saturday matinees will depart at 3:30 p.m. on select dates. In previous years the nightly runs departed at 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Grand Canyon Railway will offer runs this year Nov. 11 through Jan. 7, 2012. Saturday matinees will run Nov. 26 and Dec. 3, 10 and 17, 2011.

Reservations can be made online at www.thetrain.com or by calling 1-888-848-3511.

"We made these changes as a result of comments from our Polar Express guests in previous years," said Angela Berrigan, vice president of sales and marketing for the Grand Canyon Railway. "Moving the times up and allowing an extra half hour in between runs will reduce congestion at the depot."

Closely following The Polar Express book by Chris Van Allsburg, this nighttime trip from the Grand Canyon Railway depot in Williams travels through the starlit wilderness to the "North Pole" and features a special reading of The Polar Express while passengers enjoy hot chocolate and cookies. The "North Pole," a Christmas light village, was recently renovated with enhanced lighting and the addition of features such as storefronts, mailboxes and other structures to give the village a more permanent and three-dimensional look and feel. Upon arrival at the North Pole, passengers are welcomed by Santa Claus and Elf Bernard before Santa boards the Polar Express for the return trip to Williams. Santa makes his way through the passenger cars, greeting every child and presenting each one with a special gift - a jingle bell signifying their belief in Santa Claus. The round-trip journey is a little more than an hour in length.

Most evenings the Grand Canyon Railway offers two trains. The "Christmas Eve Limited," departing at 8 p.m., includes special gifts from Santa that are not included during other excursions.

Individual tickets for the train rides other than the Christmas Eve Limited are $30 for adults and $20 for children ages two to 15. Rates for the special Christmas Eve Limited are $60 for adults and $40 for children ages two to 15. Matinee rates are $25 for adults and $15 for children ages two to 15.

The Grand Canyon Railway also offers a Polar Express Package including the roundtrip train excursion, a one-night stay at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel and breakfast and dinner at the Grand Depot Café. The package price for two adults and two children starts at $341 and does not include taxes.

Polar Express reservations can be made by calling 1-888-848-3511 or by visiting www.thetrain.com/polar-express-5679.html. For more information about the Grand Canyon Railway or to purchase other tickets or packages visit www.thetrain.com or call 1-800-The-Train (1-800-843-8724).

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