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Sat, Oct. 31

Grand Canyon Railway accepting Polar Express reservations

WILLIAMS, Ariz. - Grand Canyon Railway (GCR) 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.

GCR will offer runs this year Nov. 11-Jan. 7. Saturday matinees will run Nov. 26 and Dec. 3, 10 and 17. 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 GCR. "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 Grand Canyon Railway will also offer a Charity Train at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 11 with free tickets for non-profit organizations. To download an application to be part of this year's Charity Train visit www.thetrain.com/polar-express-5679.html. The "Christmas Eve Limited," departing at 8 p.m., includes special gifts from Santa that are not included during other excursions.

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