This article is presented in partnership with St. Louis Union Station. 

An annual holiday destination for many, St. Louis Union Station is carrying on traditions this year with safety and smiles in mind. 

The Polar Express will return to St. Louis Union Station this year with some changes to allow for appropriate social distancing and safety. The popular family event has been recreated as BELIEVE! The Polar Express Experience. Decorated trains will remain stationary under the Union Station train shed this year for a walk-through event. Guests can interact with characters from the beloved children’s book and Santa Claus in whimsically decorated tents and on the Station’s Purina Performance Plaza.

St. Louis Union Station wanted to provide families with a real sense of holiday cheer given the year, says Todd Hotaling, vice president of revenue and marketing. “We want them to experience something that will make them smile.”

In year’s past, the Polar Express experience included a ride-along on a rail car. This year, the Polar Express experience will be a walk-through event.

Several aspects of the re-envisioned experience will achieve that goal. Each railcar is themed after chapters in the book. During the experience, hot chocolate and cookies will be served by dancing and singing chefs, and guests can read along with the children’s book, The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg. They might even get to have a conversation with the elusive Hobo.

Proper attire is also encouraged: pajamas, of course!

On weekends in December, families can enjoy Pancakes with Santa, a special brunch provided in Union Station’s Grand Hall. The themed pancake breakfast features a plate-sized Santa pancake with a hat made of strawberries and a beard of whipped cream.

In addition to Believe! The Polar Express Experience, six Union Station attractions add to the holiday celebrations. The two-hundred-foot-tall observation wheel at Union Station features views of the glittering downtown holiday lights, and guests can enjoy them in climate-controlled gondolas. Additional activities on-site include the St. Louis Aquarium, the St. Louis Carousel, an eighteen-hole mini-golf course at the Wheel Park, and the St. Louis Ropes Course and A-Maze-Ing Discoveries Mirror Maze inside Union Station.

In addition, Union Station will continue its popular holiday fire and light show set to Christmas music on the train shed lake during the Polar Express season, and The Polar Express movie will be shown in the Wheel Park each night.

Keep in mind when planning an excursion, limited tickets will be available each hour to limit capacity and allow for distance between families and groups, and safety measures will be observed throughout the experience. Characters and helpers will wear masks, and masks will be required for all guests over the age of nine per St. Louis City Health Department guidelines.

The Polar Express season begins November 20 and runs through December 30, 2020. For information about dates, fares, and event times, visit For information about other St. Louis Union Station experiences, visit