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Grand Canyon Railway
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Grand Canyon Railway Adventure Package
Ranked #1 of 36 things to do in Williams
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Historic train that takes a 65-mile trip from Williams to the Grand Canyon and offers great views of the Arizona high country.
Reviewed April 15, 2010

I recommend this adventure if you are squeezing the Grand Canyon into one of your stops along your vacation route. I also highly recommend this excursion if you are traveling with kids. The trip is about 2 hours each way with a 3.5-hour stop at the Canyon. You should note that although there is a food car on the train that sells snacks throughout the voyage, I highly recommend you stop at the Safeway in Williams and load up on snacks and drinks that you can pack in your backpack for your group. If you are a tipper, I suggest setting aside about ten dollars in $1s. There's lots of storage space above your heads in the train cars for the backpacks and jackets.
The train depot is walking distance from a few hotels off of exit 163 in Williams, Arizona. I recommend arriving an hour before you depart Williams to ensure good parking and choice seating for the Wild West Show. Parking at the depot can get busy, but there's lots of it on both sides of the depot. If you book your tickets in advance (I booked over the phone), then your tickets are waiting for you at the depot. The depot is busy, too, but the line moves fast.
The Wild West Show (before you depart) is held just outside of the depot with lots of stadium seating. The show is VERY family-friendly (they insult one cowboy's mom's cooking and accuse each other of cheating at a game of cards) and there is minimal gunfire. The horses have the easiest job of standing by the rails and then posing for pictures after the show. We were told by our car attendant, Amber Rose, that the gentlemen performing the show are retired police officers and servicemen, and, yes, they were adorable.
Boarding the train was fast and easy. The train in Coach class has 2-person bench seating and a bathroom in every car. The windows are large and the ride is smooth. Your train car will have an attendant who will be your "guide" for the duration of the ride. Amber Rose was our attendant and did an outstanding job. She was informative, lively, funny, great with the children, and seemed to really like her job. We wanted to take her with us when we arrived at the Canyon!
The on-board entertainers were talented and gracious. The gentleman playing the guitar with the long hair and deep voice (I do not know his name, but he played Johnny Cash songs and gave some history about the songs before playing them) was wonderful. And yes, if you like what you hear, want a picture taken with them, and/or recommend a song for them to sing/play, for goodness sakes, tip 'em a buck.
The "train robbery" on the return trip was really exciting for the kids (okay, I liked it, too). The train is stopped by the Wild West Show cowboys who appear on their horses alongside the train wielding their guns. Once on the train and in our car, the "robbers" were very friendly and never frightening. The children were also very excited to have their dollar robbed from them and get their photos taken with the "robber."
This is a real gem of a ride, and you should definitely make it a part of your vacation plans.

5  Thank FatBottomTraveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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7,420 - 7,424 of 7,701 reviews

Reviewed April 10, 2010

What a great way to travel to the Grand Canyon! Our kids ages 3 and 5 had a blast! Some reviews wrote about not getting great shots of the Grand Canyon while on the train, umm hello, you are traveling on the rim, and besides, there are PLENTY of opportunities when you get there! The wild west show and musicians were okay, but were still entertaining. The staff was great! Overall, we loved the experience and will be back to try the Polar Express.

2  Thank nokaoitravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 4, 2010

We have just returned from our Railway Experience and it was very good. My husband and I took the spring break opportunity to visit the Grand Canyon in the early spring. It was cold, there was a bit of snow on the ground throughout the trip, but the Grand Canyon was a beautiful and awsome as ever. The train was a fun and relaxing way to get to the Canyon, and the tour we purchased allowed us to spend the night on the rim. The bus tour heads out towards Hermits Rest and was only two stops but the shuttle is available free to those that want to experience more vistas. We had a great dinner at El Tovar, the 100 year old hotel perched on the rim of the canyon and the following day, the train ride back to Williams was fun. Our luggage was transfered throughout the trip which made things really easy. The food (cafeteria style) was good and really gave us the feeling that early train passengers experienced in the early 1900's, good food, clean accomedations and friendly, helpful staff. We ventured into Williams and through a tip from a couple of the rail workers, had a truely wonderful dinner at an interesting restaurant downtown called the "Red Raven". The service was great and the food worth recommending. The whole trip was a very pleasent surprise for both of us.

1  Thank artemism1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 19, 2010

We took our kids, ages 16 and 8, on a trip out to the Western United States. We stayed in Williams, AZ July 3-5, 2009. I had read the reviews and prepared for a mediocre train ride. We had a great time at the hotel and on the train! We met a fun family (with children similar ages) from California on the train and had dinner with this family and drinks after a day at the Grand Canyon. I took card games, hand held Video games, and snacks for the train trip. We did not feel pressured to tip the musicians, we just tipped the ones that we enjoyed and interacted with our family. Both or our children loved the train trip to and from the Grand Canyon. The Cowboys were great before, during and after our train ride. Our host was excellent and very warm, she wanted everyone in her section to have a great time. I think if you do your homework on what to expect and just have fun, this is a fun event for families.

1  Thank fiftystateswithkids
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 17, 2010

My family (two adults, two cute little girls) came all the way from Australia for a white Christmas in the US so our hopes and expectations were high. I read about this Polar Express that runs out of historic Williams and, on the basis of what I found on the internet, I thought we'd give it a go. We were not disappointed! If you can suspend any lingering cynicism about Christmas and the schmaltzy story / film on which the Polar Express is based, you'll have a great time! The setting is fantastic at the Railway Hotel - a beautiful old building with a heated swimming pool (Yes!), good food and very comfortable rooms. The train itself is just as rustic and even though it's a diesel, it still has all the atmosphere.The kids loved it! I highly recommend the Polar Express experience but be smart and stay at the beautiful old Railway hotel as we did. Also, dress warmly!

Thank MelbourneMacca
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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