Every Sunday before Christmas, R.J. Corman's Lexington Dinner Train will transform into the North Pole Express.
The train, which will have an additional car to expand seating to 100, will go from behind Rupp Arena to the outskirts of Versailles twice each Sunday. Mr. and Mrs. Claus will be on board to take pictures with kids and hear holiday wish lists.
Gil Logan, chef for R.J. Corman Railroad Group, has a special "kid- friendly" menu planned: chicken fingers, mashed potatoes or tater tots, fruit cups, and "big warm chocolate cookies and hot chocolate, lots of hot chocolate," he said.
Children are encouraged to wear pajamas, Logan said.
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"After the meal, Santa goes around and talks to each kid, then they sing Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town, and they get Christmas bells: the first gift for Christmas," Logan said.
The ride has just about everything to get in the holiday spirit, except maybe reindeer.
"No reindeer — we're still using diesel engines to pull the train," Logan said.
(If you're hankering for live reindeer, you can find them at Southern Lights at the Kentucky Horse Park.)
The Christmas dinner train is $60 per adult, $45 per child. Tickets are available at www.lexingtondinnertrain.com or 1-866-801-3463.
That's just one of the holiday activities that have trains as a centerpiece or at least include a choo-choo or two.
Here are more attractions and activities with trains this holiday season.
Southern Lights. The centerpiece for the Kentucky Horse Park's annual holiday attraction is, of course, the lights — new displays include Dorothy and the rest of the Wizard of Oz gang — but there also are an exhibition of model trains and the Mini-Train Express that kids may ride. The festival includes a petting zoo with live reindeer, pony and camel rides, holiday and craft vendors, and refreshments. The lights are on each night through Dec. 31, and the indoor attractions will be open through Dec. 23. Complimentary passes accepted Sun.-Thu. only. (Kentucky Horse Park, 4089 Iron Works Pkwy. Admission begins at $15 per personal vehicle from Sunday to Thursday, $20 on Friday and Saturday; for full price list, go to Khpfoundation.org.)
Bluegrass Museum Railroad Museum, Versailles. The museum's Santa Trains will be Dec. 14, 15, 21 and 22. Trains leave the museum station at 2 p.m. (and 11 a.m. for a bonus trip Dec. 21). During the ride, Santa visits with each child, all of whom get a candy cane before Santa heads back to the North Pole. (175 Beasley Dr., Versailles. $11.50-$18.50; available at Bgrm.org or (859) 873-2476.)
Kentucky Railway Museum, New Haven. The museum between Bardstown and Hodgenville runs the afternoon Santa Express and the evening North Pole Express, both 22-mile, 90-minute rides through the Rolling Fork River Valley in a restored passenger train to pick up Santa. Kids are encouraged to wear pajamas; cookies and hot chocolate are served. (136 S. Main St., New Haven. $17 adults, $12 children, free for children younger than 2; available at Kyrail.org or call 1-800-272-0152.)
Yew Dell Gardens, near Louisville. Master model train builder Bob Irmscher has set up a snow village and model train display inside Yew Dell Castle. It's on display Dec. 1, 6, 7, 13 and 14. (6220 Old LaGrange Rd., Crestwood. $7 adults; $5 seniors; free for ages 11 and younger, active military and Yew Dell members. (502) 241-4788. Yewdellgardens.org.)
Galt House Hotel, Louisville. The downtown hotel's Christmas display has added Ernie the Engineer to a lineup that includes Santa, the Snow Fairy Princess and the Snow Fox, as well as the spectacular KaLightoscope Christmas light show, which has the Peppermint Express kiddie train. (140 N. Fourth St., Louisville. Tickets to Ernie's Express Lunch, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Dec. 8, 15 and 22, are $24.39. For KaLightoscope Christmas, admission is $18.99 Fri.-Sun., $14.99 Mon.-Thu.; one child 12 or younger is admitted free with an adult ticket purchase; additional children are $9.99. Go to ChristmasattheGaltHouse.com or call (502) 584-7777 for a full schedule of events and attractions.)
EnterTrainment Junction, West Chester, Ohio. This attraction just north of Cincinnati (in the same town as Ikea) bills itself as the world's largest indoor train display. This year, it adds a free Main Street Holiday Trains display. It has a journey to the North Pole to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus ($9.95). (7379 Squire Ct., West Chester, Ohio. $12.95 adults, $9.95 children; funhouse admission is extra. (513) 898-8000. Entertrainmentjunction.com.)
Cincinnati Museum Center. Its Holiday Junction featuring the Duke Energy Holiday Trains will be open through Jan. 5. In addition to the trains, Holiday Junction features the Toys Through Time vintage toy exhibit. (Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon-Fri., 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sun.; 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Dec. 24; closed Dec. 25. Union Terminal, 1301 Western Ave., Cincinnati. Free admission to Duke Energy customers with confirmation code (available at Cincymuseum.org) or included with Cincinnati History Museum admission: $8.50 adults, $6.50 children. (513) 287-7000. Cincymuseum.org.)
Krohn Conservatory, Cincinnati. Northern Kentucky-based Applied Imagination has built A Cincinnati Scenic Railway, a model train set in the botanical garden featuring bridges and historical buildings, including the new Roebling Bridge, all built of locally gathered willow and other natural materials and surrounded by a beautiful floral display. New this year: the Schmalz Family Holiday Village, vintage holiday decorations including "Motionettes," moving characters that were featured in the windows of Shillito's and Pogues years ago. (Holiday show open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. through Jan. 5; open 10 a.m.- 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6, 13 and 20. $7 adults, $4 children, free ages 4 and younger; download $1 coupon at Cincinnatiparks.com/holiday-floral-show. (513) 421-5707.)