Since all tickets are done by Will Call, we were advised to get to the station early in the day to pick up the tickets to avoid long lines. So we left that morning and drove up to Williams (about 40 miles west of Flagstaff) and got to the station at about 11:00. It was great because we were pretty much the only ones there.
We got to peruse the gift shop for a while, and try on some of the fun winter hats.
After getting our tickets we checked into our hotel. We opted out of the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel package and decided to save a little money by staying down the street at the Holiday Inn. I'm glad we did. Our room was comfortable, large, and much more secluded than the GCR. There had been a snow storm moving through a few days before. And even though a lot of it had melted, there was a big patch out behind the hotel... perfect for little boys to play in! So when our friends arrived at the hotel, we all spent at least an hour playing in a 1-2 inch deep patch of snow. It doesn't take much to entertain the little ones!
After playing in the snow we all headed back to our rooms to suit up in our jammies to head down to the train station. The weather was beautiful, and the station was less than 1/2 mile away, so we decided to walk down. It was great!
Inside the station they had all sorts of activities for the kids. We attempted to go see Santa and take a picture, but both of the boys chickened out right when it was our turn. Benny decided a few minutes later that he wanted to try again, and worked up a little more courage this time, although he still didn't want to sit on his lap.
Josh still was not interested in visiting Santa, especially when he learned that there was coloring in the other room.
After coloring, Benny went to visit with Mrs. Claus for a minute. Josh was still not interested. Oh well!
Pretty soon the train arrived!
The train ride was so much fun. We got to eat cookies and drink hot chocolate...
And we got to hear the Polar Express story.
And having great friends to share it with made it all that much more fun!
Pretty soon, we were at the North Pole!
Santa got on the train at the North Pole and came through all the cars, and gave each child a special gift. The kids were so excited for Santa to come!
The gift, of course, was a bell. If you can hear the bell, you still believe!
After Santa came through we spent the rest of the trip back to the station singing Christmas carols. It was a lot of fun.
The next morning we all met for breakfast at a little local restaurant with really yummy food. Thankfully they had a table big enough for all 8 of us!
Before heading back home, we stopped at a new wildlife park in Williams called Bearizona.
Bearizona is a drive through park, with all sorts of animals, including wolves and black bears.
There was also a walk through area with bear cubs, fox and bobcats. We got there right at feeding time so everything was awake and active.
And of course, these little animals!
It was a blast! I'm so glad we did it!