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“Polar Express VERY DISAPPOINTING.....” 1 of 5 bubbles
Review of Mt. Hood Railroad

Mt. Hood Railroad
Ranked #12 of 69 things to do in Hood River
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: Tourist railroad offering 4-hour scenic tours through the Hood River Valley to the base of Mt. Hood on a historic Excursion Train, Dinner Train or Brunch Train.
Useful Information: Activities for young children
Portland, Oregon
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Polar Express VERY DISAPPOINTING.....”
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 3, 2012

I have taken the Polar Express on the Mt. Hood Railroad twice. First experience (2009) was awesome! Santa visited our car and sat on a chair. Each child was able to sit on Santa's lap and talk to him. Carolers came on board after Santa and led us through the singing of Xmas carols. The Carolers were funny...and I still have the memorable video of the caroler with the funny voice making funny sounds when singing Feliz Navidad. Naturally I wanted to go again. So in 2010 we boarded the train again with high expectations. The experience was quite a contrast to the first ride. Santa rushed through our train in a hurry to hand out bells to the kids. I'm not even sure my daughter even got a hug from Santa as he was in such a rush. No carolers. There was the addition of a hobo that was funny but I would take the carolers and a nonrushed visit with Santa over the hobo. When we boarded there was the ability to pay for a photo with Santa that was no different than then getting a photo taken at the mall...actually worse as there was more than one santa with a curtain between. My daugther could see thru the curtain to the santa next door. I think they had 2-3 santas taking photos and a long line. VERY disappointing. I spoke to the railroad who indicated that the dramatic change was in response to customer feedback and done to align with a different state polar express experience. Honestly I have no idea how anyone could see these as an improvement unless referring to the cost saved when replacing the army of carolers with a single hobo. Upon complaining and providing the feedback, I was offered nothing other than a defensive response. Hmmm...... I would definitely not go again. And since have been telling others not to go. This year we are trying the chehalis washington version.

Visited November 2011
Helpful?
3 Thank Margie H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Meagan B, Manager at Mt. Hood Railroad, responded to this review, October 8, 2012
Dear 2009 & 2010 Polar Express Customer,

We appreciate your feedback from your previous trips on the Polar Express. I regret to hear that we have made such a disappointing, lasting impression on you. Rest assured we have heard your concerns and have met your standards. We give more Santa time & have singing elves as well as Chefs that sing along. I think if you will join us again you will be pleasantly surprised at the operation. Thank you for your interest in the Mt. Hood Railroad and we hope to see you again on our upcoming Polar Express event.
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Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
Portland Oregon
Level Contributor
302 reviews
95 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 113 helpful votes
“Loved the train, not the tour”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 29, 2012

I have always heard about the train and my husband surprised me by booking the wine tasting tour with another couple. We were told to arrive half an hour early which we did. I have to echo the sentiments of others that the whole paper chase of tickets and parking is a bit annoying. I don't understand why there is a charge for parking when you are paying for the fare and also the wine from the winery that shares the parking lot. Having to to walk all the way back to car with the stub could be a challenge for those with mobility issues.

We were escorted across the parking lot to the winery where we were given an initial taste and the owner came out to talk to the crowd and describe the wine making process but it was difficult to hear him because they were setting up for a wedding that evening and putting down a dance floor. It made it next to impossible to hear anything he had to say. Our event should not have been competing with a later event.

Our itinerary stated that when we boarded the train there would be appetizers on the tables and they would then open the bottles of wine we had purchased at the winery. There were four very small plates of nuts, olives, apple slices, soft cheese.. I would say that if you are pushing alcohol you need to offer something a little more substantial. However, we never did get service at our table. A conductor did come through and told us that we couldn't smoke (duh) but that we also couldn't use the restrooms because he couldn't dump them. Seriously ????? You are serving food and drinks but you are not allowing us to use the restrooms?

We got off at the next winery where we spent 45 minutes. When we boarded the train and returned to our table, dessert was set up for three (there were four of us) and silverware for two. We had been off the train for 45 minutes so I don't understand how that time was used to take the few dishes away but not complete the job. The wait staff was very indifferent to the request of spoons and the dessert. We were again met with no follow up with a cork screw or offer of a drink. Later a bill was put on the table and we were asked if we were ready to settle. We said we would look at it. Although the dessert (small apple crisp) was part of the $55 price the bill showed the desserts at $15 value making it $60 and then zeroed out at the bottom. I can only guess it was something upon which to base a gratuity. Very confusing and I wish I had service to base a gratuity on. I guess I should be thankful since I wouldn't have been able to use the bathroom anyway.

The train was nice and it was a beautiful day. I can't fault that. I do think it was too much to pay for what we were served in the way of food and the appalling lack of service. It would have been nice to have a glass of wine served on the train from one of the wineries. Based on what we experienced I would be afraid to see how food and service are handled on the dinner train.

Visited September 2012
Helpful?
3 Thank APennero
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Meagan B, Manager at Mt. Hood Railroad, responded to this review, October 8, 2012
Dear Mt. Hood Railroad Wine Train Customer,

Thank you for taking the time to comment on your trip. The Mt. Hood Railroad Wine Train is a new product for us as well as the wineries featured on this tour. It sounds as though we may have room for improvement as you have pointed out and we will do our best to make this trip successful. There are obvious guidelines we must legally follow when it comes to alcohol service, but again we are striving to meet both needs. There are restrooms available at all times on any of our trips so I'm a little confused at that comment and will further investigate. Again, thank you for your interest in the Mt. Hood Railroad.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
United States
Level Contributor
18 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“You may not see Mt. Hood...”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 25, 2012

This would probably be a great trip for a train lover, but it's not a great way to see Mount Hood.

If you love trains and have dreams of riding in an elegant old pullman car, you'll enjoy this trip.

If you want to see Mount Hood, this isn't the way to do it.

No matter what, don't pay the extra money for a first class ticket in the dome car. The dome cars aren't old and elegant -- just old and run down, and they smell mildewy (like an old couch that's spent a few too many years in a damp basement). Seriously, stinky. Avoid the dome cars no matter what!

The cheaper Coach tickets are in the pullman cars, and they're beautiful -- AND the windows open (hence, you aren't locked in a stinky mildewey cold tube of a dome car). If you are going to ride this railroad, save yourself the money and ride in coach. We made the mistake of buying first class tickets and regretted it the entire trip. The entire FIVE HOUR trip.

The stop at the Fruit Company store is just okay. Except for the actual fresh fruit, it didn't look like many (or any?) of the products sold in the store are actually made locally -- they are all "distributed by" the Fruit Company, but I didn't see any evidence that most of them were made locally. An alpaca scarf had a Made in Peru label on it, and there was Wisconsin cheese (not TIllamook or other local labels), etc.

The 45 minute stop in Parkdale lets you grab lunch at the local grocery store (which has a pretty good deli) and visit a couple of lame shops. You may or may not see Mount Hood at all, depending on the clouds. We could kinda see it, but not well enough to photograph.

Overall, we felt it was a waste of a day (the trip is nearly 5 hours long!). We had been very excited to go, but were disappointed that you don't really see Mt. Hood from the Mount Hood Railroad. Along the way, you'll see lots of orchards (which are pretty) and lots of industrial eyesores (not pretty), and have approximately zero photo opportunities.

We ended up driving back to see Mount Hood in our rental car, and it was MUCH BETTER. We were able to get much closer, see it better, had a more enjoyable trip, had more photo opportunities, and didn't smell like an old couch when we were done.

In fairness, though, I think if you were really into old trains, or had kids that wanted to ride the train, this would be a much better choice of activity for you (buy coach tickets, though -- avoid first class!!!). We were just two adults who wanted to see Mt. Hood in a unique way, and this was a poor choice for us.

Visited September 2012
Helpful?
3 Thank O2BCyrus
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Meagan B, Manager at Mt. Hood Railroad, responded to this review, October 8, 2012
Thank you for taking our train ride and for commenting on your trip. You are right to say you may not always see Mt. Hood as "Mother Nature" does hold the controller. When the clouds come out they can hide that big beautiful Mountain. But the surrounding scenery is always breathtaking in most peoples opinion. I am glad to hear you took a drive afterwards and was still able to get some good pictures. As for the Upper Dome seating vs. the Coach seating, I guess it would depend on what kind of trip you want to experience. All of our cars date back to the 1950's and even older, so we like to consider them ALL Classics. We welcome our customers feedback and will strive to improve where ever possible. Again, thank you for joining us.
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Forest Grove, Oregon
Level Contributor
43 reviews
28 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Hood River Railroad "Rocks"!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 24, 2012

Actually the railroad does rock while you are riding the train. But the trip was wonderful. We were in the Dome Car, but the other cars are nice, too. It was nice to see all the orchards in the Hood Valley. This trip was well worth the time.

Visited September 2012
Helpful?
2 Thank Richard P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Meagan B, Manager at Mt. Hood Railroad, responded to this review, October 8, 2012
Thank you for commenting on your trip. We are glad you enjoyed it.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Portland, Oregon, United States
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Parkdale train trip”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 30, 2012

I failed to see the attraction of this particular route. The scenery is just as pretty by car and doesn't take hours. We had to park, go stand in line to purchase train tickets and pay for parking, go back to the car to display the parking pass, then stand in line to get on the train. The stop at the fruit store was just a tourist trap. They were selling fruit that wasn't even in season. The train was hot and stuffy and the children didn't want to be on the train anymore than I did as they screamed the whole time.
OK, so I made a mistake. Save your money and just drive the fruit loop stopping at the fruit stands and other vendors along the way. The whole Hood River area is lovely with lots to do. Have fun!

Visited June 2012
Helpful?
4 Thank Sylvia T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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