Ho, ho, ho! Santa is coming to town–and staying for a while! Union Station in St. Louis is now Santa’s second home complete with Santa’s Workshop, Mrs. Claus’ kitchen and more elves than you can shake a stick at. It’s all part of Holiday’s at Union Station and the Santa Express Train Ride.
I got an exclusive sneak peek at Union Station and I’m here to say it LOOKS AWESOME. The old mall is barely recognizable now that it’s dressed up as the North Pole! Most of it’s store fronts have been converted into rooms of Santa’s workshop and village. The Fudgery is the only hold over from the 1980’s and has been taken over by elves. One of the main floor restaurants has been converted into Babbo Natale’s Pizza Parlor where guests can purchase gooey slices of St. Louis style pizza. And outside, the former paddle boat pond is being turned into a fire and water show, which will be a permanent attraction as Union Station becomes our new favorite family entertainment complex.
The Santa Express at Union Station
The biggest draw to Union Station is the real train ride. Instead of a Polar Express theme, this year we’ll have “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” The train will take families to Santa’s house and there will be singing, dancing and book reading like last year. New decorations along the tracks will be upgraded to laser projection light shows. I’m really looking forward to seeing the changes!
After the ride you’ll get a token to visit Union Station, er, the North Pole…and visit Mrs. Claus Kitchen for cookies and hot chocolate, then a photo op with Santa. Picture packages will be extra. You might want to book those tickets now. Prices range from $39 to $89 and kids under 2 are free with an adult ticket.
The North Pole Village
Entrance to the village is free with your Santa Express train ticket, or you can just visit the North Pole for $5 a person. And there’s a LOT to see and do. Most of the activities have fees, but quite a few things are included with your ticket.
- Santa’s Workshop Experience and Elf Academy: Learn elf skills and build a toy train to take home. RSVP required. ($19 for adults, $15 for kids under 12)
- Santa’s Reindeer Round-up: Search the village for Donner, Blitzen and the whole gang. Find them all and get a prize. ($5 each)
- Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen at Gingerbread Junction: Train riders can pick up their complementary cookies and cocoa here. More treats and cupcakes are for sale. You can also buy a gingerbread kit to decorate for $16. On Saturday’s Mrs. Claus will read stories and autograph copies of Twas the Night Before Christmas–$12 per kid and includes the book.
- Santa Land: Have your photo taken with Santa. The experience is free, photos are extra. Visiting Santa is included with the train ride, and everyone else can make an appointment from 3 to 5pm each day.
- Elf’s Clubhouse: Play games with Santa’s helpers and have refreshments. Included in the VIP train tickets, or $10 per person.
- Babbo Natale’s Pizza Parlor: St. Louis Style pizza, sold by the slice.
- The Fudgery: You know these guys.
- Santa’s Toy Shop: A gift shop.
Fun things included with your ticket–>
- North Pole Post Office: mail a letter to Santa before it’s too late!
- Santa’s Office: find out if you’re on the naught list and grab a selfie.
- Santa’s Sleigh: grab a photo with the big guy’s ride.
- Santa’s Weather Station: track the weather at the North Pole and watch the radar for reindeer.
- Santa’s Maze: look for the Northern Lights in a walk through maze.
- Peppermint Putt-Putt: mini golf elf style.
- Model Trains: on display through out the village.
- Plus 100,000 twinkle lights, 60 Christmas Trees, thousands of props!
This part of the experience is still under construction, so I only have this construction photo to show you. It’s the courtyard area of the old mall, under the train shed.
Tickets to Glacier Park will be $5 each, with kids under 2 free. Admission is included with train tickets.
There will be three activities here: Ice Skating, Ice Slide and the light show.
- Ice Skating is $10 for adults and $5 for kids for a 2 hour session. Rent skates for $5 or BYO. The portable rink will be 4700 square foot.
- The Ice Slide is snow tubing on a 95 foot slide, 9 feet height. Parents can get a double tube to take small kids. A ticket is $7 for adults and $5 for kids and will get you 12 runs at the slide.
- The Fire & Water Music Show will be held over a one-acre pond and has 100 feet water falls, 50 nozzles and a 100 feet of lights. It’s gonna be awesome.
Times and Dates
Holidays at Union Station starts November 18. Trains and the North Pole Village will stay open until December 30 and Glacier Park will be open until January 6. The Village and Glacier Park will be open Wednesday to Friday, from 3-9:30pm, and from 2-9:30pm on the weekends. See the website for train schedules and tickets.