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“The worst kind of American excess - done in a haphazard British way”
Review of Weardale Railway

Weardale Railway
Ranked #1 of 5 things to do in Stanhope
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Hartlepool, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
14 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
“The worst kind of American excess - done in a haphazard British way”
Reviewed December 26, 2013

How bad could it be, I thought, but it was much worse. Rude staff in the muddy car park, tell you to park as far from the entrance as possible and we got shouted at for daring to use the pick up point.

The railway had spend some money on decorating the station in a very gaudy way, which was impressive. They keep you waiting outside in the cold, after suggesting coming in pyjamas, fortunately wasn't raining or snowing....seemed rather pointless and then been hassled when we had the temerity to use the pick up point. Great way to help little tempers fray.

Tuneless singing and over the top American whoo, whoo, whoo, yeah you can do it, managed to knock me out of the Christmas spirit totally and I couldn't help hoping that one member of staff had had a CRB check!

Disappointing that there was nothing for the adults, apart from an insipid hot chocolate and a cheap BISCUIT dumped on the table and generally been ignored. At least a mulled wine and mince pie would have perhaps got us more in the mood.

I guess having diesels didn't matter, as you couldn't see anything anyway, but it took away the romance and smell of how you felt the book should be. The carriages were warm and modern which I suppose was one thing, but not the picture I had from the book.

An embarrassing floor show which was over the top and done poorly might just worked for an American audience but with a tuneless Lancastrian accent and no alcohol, boy, I wish I had brought a book to read.

The concept was good, but execution was poor. The British don't really do the American rah-rah-rah well and it did grate. I am sure they made money given the price of the tickets and the fact it was reasonably full, so suspect it will run again, but it really didn't do anything for me.

The best thing, given all the preparation of the decorations, none of the toilets I tried were working and the one I did find after walking through several carriages, had an unflushed poo and no water in the tank to flush it away. Summed it up a lot of glitter but underneath like the toilet bowl content.

The previous Santa special that we went on the Weardale, although amateurish, had much more charm and would highly recommend something which hasn't been licenced by Warner Bros...and felt although manufactured in China, like the mugs... and an empty façade like a film set, which looks great on the outside.

Go on a railway offering a traditional santa experience rather than this tat.

Visited December 2013
33 Thank ReallyGrumpy_Old_Man
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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421 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Middlesbrough, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
43 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“A wonderful Christmas experience!”
Reviewed December 26, 2013

Yep, the car park was muddy but what can you expect at this time of year - something perhaps for improvement. The wait to embark was also tedious but once on board the train........the trip was magical, the staff totally committed to providing the children (and adults) with a fantastical Polar Experience! Brilliant - our six grandchildren and parents were mesmerised with the whole journey - well done to all!

Visited December 2013
1 Thank POLLY2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
21 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed December 24, 2013

So the bad points first - the car park is extremely muddy but after reading reviews from last year I expected this so packed wellies.

My son is 6 and a huge polar express fan so I was a bit worried he would be disappointed by the experience after reading last years reviews but the negatives were obviously taken on board by the managers and changes made from last year - my son absolutely loved it, the ticket and the conductor punching holes in it, the hot chocolate and cookies, the hobo, the dancing chefs, santa. The train ride itself is just over an hour long, the hobo/santa/elves/conductor/chefs stopped to talk to every child and my son loved the present of the bell. I paid the extra to go in the premier bit and the mugs we received are fantastic and I expect this is going to be one of my sons treasured items. Yes it is rather expensive but what isn't these days and the look on my sons face more than made up for the cost. We both had our jamas on for the ride and the carriage was not at all cold.

What would I change about it - to be honest I cant think of anything except the carpark. We both had a fantastic time and I'm still singing the hot choc song.

Visited December 2013
5 Thank Millymollymandy28
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
county durham
Level 3 Contributor
12 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“me and my grandson on the polar express”
Reviewed December 23, 2013 via mobile

me and my grandson on the polar xpress we had a really gud time you got hot chocolate and a cookie biscute santa was brill for him worth the money

Visited December 2013
1 Thank sandra m
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed December 23, 2013

We went on the 330 polar express and it was fab. The chefs, conductor, elves and santa had lots of time for everyone. There was no rush from santa and he even insisted on the adults getting a photo with him. Kids really enjoyed it and the hot chocolate and cookie were lovely. Only bad point was the thick mud in the car park but we had heard it was muddy prior to going so wore our wellies. As a one off experience everyone should try the polar express.

Visited December 2013
Thank GeordieDebbie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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