I received complimentary tickets for my family to ride the Royal Gorge Santa Express in exchange for my honest review.
It's now December 1st and the Christmas season is officially in full swing. To kick off the holiday season, my family and I were excited to be given the opportunity to ride the Royal Gorge Santa Express. It was such an amazing experience that I would love to make it a holiday tradition for years to come. I am so excited to tell you all about it.
[caption id="attachment_27196" align="aligncenter" width="715"] Photo credit: Royal Gorge Route[/caption]
Cañon City is a small town located two and a half hours from Denver and an hour and fifteen minutes from Colorado Springs. It may be a small town, but there are plenty of places to stay if the drive is too long for a day trip. Since the Santa Express train ride is an hour and a half long we decided to get a room in town. This way we wouldn't have to rush and we could really enjoy the experience.
On the Santa Express children and adults are welcome and encouraged to wear pajamas. This was so much fun that even our teenager decided to wear his. Next time, I think The Husband and I will join in on the fun.
The Santa Express is an old style train that is all decked out in its holiday glory. The lights, garland, and bows in the cars immediately put you in the holiday spirit. While on the train, the staff periodically leads the group for games like a reindeer hunt and Christmas carols. This was a huge a hit with our six-year old while our teenager loved playing Santa Bingo.
Once everyone has boarded and the train starts to pull out of the station, you are given complimentary hot chocolate and cookies. This, of course, made Dub very happy.
There are three different classes of tickets for purchase. Our tickets were for the club car so we had a table to sit at and we purchased optional meal vouchers for the ride. Included with the food vouchers are a really tasty grill meal such as burgers and sandwiches, a non-alcoholic drink, and a 16 oz. Santa Express souvenir glass. Dessert and alcohol are extra. We all enjoyed our meals and would definitely purchase the vouhers again.
Once the train started moving the kids were so excited. This was the first time that either of them had been on a real train and they loved every minute of it.
We sped through town while the sun was setting and by the time the sun was fully set, we were finishing up with dinner and entering the Royal Gorge. Upon entering the gorge we could see the Christmas lights, elves, Mrs. Claus, reindeer, and Santa himself. This is where the train stops to pick up Santa so he can ride and visit with all of the children on the train.
[caption id="attachment_27163" align="aligncenter" width="1280"] Photo credit: Royal Gorge Route[/caption]
Santa enters at the front of the train and walks through each car to visit each child individually. This is when they give Santa their wish lists, talk to him for a few minutes, and are then given a bell from one of his reindeer. Dub got Dancer's bell and Red got Vixen's.
This moment is the highlight of Dub's whole year, I think. Just look at that face as he hands Santa his Christmas wish list. Priceless.
[caption id="attachment_27182" align="aligncenter" width="1280"] Photo credit: Royal Gorge Route[/caption]
After the ride was over and we pulled back into the station, the kids got their picture taken with Santa. This is a separate purchase but worth it in my opinion. The train ride itself is rather dark and if your camera doesn't take good photos in low light conditions, you may miss out on getting that special photo with the man himself.
If you live in Colorado or find yourself in the state during the holiday season, I highly recommend making the trip to Cañon City for a ride on the Santa Express. You will not be disappointed! I am already looking forward to taking another ride next year!
Click HERE for the 2016 Santa Express schedule to plan your trip. For more information or to book tickets, call 1.888.724.5748 or visit royalgorgeroute.com.