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Polar Express

Great for kids! Do the 6 o clock ride. Just long enough of a train ride for the kids. If you can... read more

Reviewed yesterday
MichelleNewsome
,
Shelby, North Carolina
via mobile
Tips for the Tuckasegee River excursion

We bought first class tickets on the Tuckasegee River excursion, and overall had a really good... read more

Reviewed 3 days ago
travelerfromsj
,
San Jose, California
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Reviewed yesterday via mobile

We took a ride on the polar express. The hospitality was great. The ride was good and the kids loved it.

Thank Brian D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed yesterday via mobile

Great for kids! Do the 6 o clock ride. Just long enough of a train ride for the kids. If you can afford it, upgrade to first class! Go later than 5 due to the lights and scenery, but my kids didn’t mind. We have been on the 8 o clock ride before as well and was too late by the time we left. Enjoy the looks on your kids face when they see Santa.

Thank MichelleNewsome
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 3 days ago via mobile

Great time for kids of all ages. The hour long trip is great. The sites along the way get better every year.

Thank T3807DWtonya
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 3 days ago

We bought first class tickets on the Tuckasegee River excursion, and overall had a really good time. We were lucky enough to get a sunny morning, and there was plenty of fall color still to see. Our guide, Steven, did an excellent job with explanations and drinks. I would definitely consider taking the Nantahala Gorge excursion next time.

Some quick tips:
1. The first class cars are adult only, and set up with tables for 4 on one side and tables for 2 on the other. I think the side with tables for 4 had better river views most of the way, but the train wreck from the movie “The Fugitive” is on the side with tables for 2. You reserve seats when you buy your ticket, so book early.

2. Even though you pay online, tickets must be picked up at the train depot starting an hour before the train leaves. Parking is in a lot that’s a block away (cost is $5), and boarding starts half an hour before the train leaves, so best to arrive early.

3. Lunch comes with the first class train ride. The railroad will call you a few days before the trip to ask what you want for lunch, so maybe look at the menu on-line beforehand to see what you want to order. Overall our lunch was good (we had the baked cod), especially the dessert, which was some kind of pumpkin cake.

4. They serve local wines and beers onboard. If you buy a glass of wine you get to keep the cute little wine glass, which has “Great Smoky Mountains Railroad” etched on it. So, definitely order some wine.

5. The train doesn’t turn around in Dillsboro- instead, the engine just hooks up to the other end of the train, so you see the same thing coming back. If you want to see the engine hook up, head outside and to the back of the train right after arriving in Dillsboro.

6. There are restrooms in separate buildings next to the train depots in both Bryson City and in Dillsboro. (I have to mention here that while the restrooms were clean, they really needed some maintenance. Also, the restrooms in Bryson City had the tiniest toilet stalls EVER).

I hope this helps!

Thank travelerfromsj
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 3 days ago via mobile

We took the 4 hour scenic tour in the stem engine train. Trying to get on the train was a crowd of people shoving and pushing. Not a great way to start. There were very few scenic scenes. Lots of weeds to look at. There was no commentary at all.. no one to tell us where to look, what we see, what's coming up. No what I expected or was looking forward to at all. Maybe the other train ride would be better. I couldn't really recommend this one

1  Thank cindymcd1988
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 4 days ago

We took the moonshine steam train to see the Smokeies Fall color. You get 7-8 half shots of flavored moonshine in the Moonshine car with a great dinner. Great fun!

Thank Cal and Irma L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 5 days ago

Fall vacation with another couple. All 4 of us were excited about the train ride into the Smokies. Our excitement soon left when we couldn’t see much... because of the Kudzu! Should be called the “Kudzu Express.” We went first class, the meal was ok. Met some nice people. The host of our car needed to be more personable and knowledgeable of the area.

Thank Sylvia W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 1 week ago

We rode the to Dillsboro and back again. I will have to say I would not waste my time nor money to do it again. Don't get me wrong the fall colors were gorgeous as was the river views. The staff not great. No one told you what to do, greeted you, acted like it was a chore to get you a drink. We received the cup for supposedly unlimited refills, we only received one refill. We rode inside the crescent car, the attendant was not friendly. They seemed to be invisible just about the whole trip. She would say something about the area a time or two, but you could never hear her, she talked so low and on the front of the car, where the people in the back could not hear.
The seats were comfortable, most of them sit facing another couple, we were lucky and got only 2 seats facing the back of another seat, so had plenty of leg room. The other people I felt sorry for they could not stretch out without being in someone's personal bubble. We had to pay for parking which was just silly, considering as much as a ticket is. There is a lot of trash and stuff on the railways and beside them, who owns this, can we not get it cleaned up. Dillsboro was a quaint little town to visit the layover was perfect about an hour and a half. The people sitting in front of us made the whole experience miserable, but that is no fault of the GSMR, they yelled at the top of their voices the whole way there and back and talked nonstop, one of the ladies also smelled really bad. Everyone on this car kept sighing and staring at them hoping they would shush.
I read reviews and it said on the return trip you get to change sides, we were never asked to change sides or anything. The windows were so filthy, they were hard to see out of. Instead of all the workers standing around talking, why are they not cleaning the windows before each departure? I have to say I was very disappointed in the GSMR, it was not what we were expecting, nor what we thought we were paying for. I would not go on the railroad again, even on a different excursion, I was glad to see the fall foliage, we timed that perfect, but everything else was a wash.

1  Thank lovetravel2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 1 week ago

This was truly a fun experience. There’s no hurrying just a lovely couple of hours to enjoy beautiful scenery. At lunch I had the eggplant which was certainly more than passable. Being in first class there was continuous coffee and tea available.

Thank vickie s
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 1 week ago

Really enjoyed our train ride and seeing the sites and hearing the history of the route. Beer tastin at the station was an awesome addition!!!! Next trip though, would definitely be in the adults only car - we were traveling as a couples trip and too many kids and talking and entertaining of the children was disturbing the relaxing ride.

1  Thank NICOLE E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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