The Polar Express pulls a line of passenger cars, which include an observation car and an abandoned toy car in the film, where the children and the Conductor ride on during journey to and from the North Pole.
Role in the book
When the train pulls up at Hero Boy's house, a Conductor steps outside one of cars. Hero Boy goes outside and towards the Conductor where, after learning about the train, he puts his hand out and is pulled aboard. He finds other children onboard going to the North Pole and they sing Christmas carols while a pair of chefs serve them hot cocoa and nougat-centered candies.
The train arrives at the North Pole where the children and Conductor get off the cars and partake in the celebration. They return to the cars following Santa's departure where the other children ask Hero Boy to show the silver bell Santa gave him as the first gift of Christmas. However, it had fallen through his ripped robe pocket and the train started moving before they could go look for it. Hero Boy exits the car at his house and returns home. The Conductor, standing from the cars as the train leaves, wishes him a merry Christmas.
Role in the film
After the train arrives, Hero Boy walks outside when a Conductor steps out one of the cars. Hero Boy walks up to and is told about the train and his recent signs of doubt. Initially reluctant, he jumps onto one of the cars just as the train leaves and the Conductor leads him into the seating area where he meets the Hero Girl and Know-It-All kid. Another child, Billy, is picked up later, but when is unable to reach the moving train, Hero Boy pulls the car's emergency brake to let him on.
Next, an octet of waiters and two chefs serve the children hot chocolate. Hero Girl saves a cup for Billy and she and the Conductor go to give it to him in the observation car. However, she leaves behind her ticket, so Hero Boy goes to return it, but the wind blows it away. It eventually returns to the passenger car just as the Conductor is about to punch it. He instead takes Hero Girl for a walk on the rooftop of the cars when she cannot find it. Hero Boy fortunately finds it and goes onto the roof himself to return it, but finds a Hobo instead. The Hobo helps him to the locomotive by skiing across the cars and gets him there right before the train reaches Flat Top Tunnel.
Following the caribou crossing, Glacier Gulch, and the Ice Lake, the Conductor finally punches Hero Girl's ticket and they and Hero Boy return to the passenger cars. They walk through one car filled with abandoned and broken toys, including a Scrooge puppet operated by the Hobo that scares Hero Boy to the next car where he finds Hero Girl and Billy singing from the deck of the observation car. The three watch the northern lights when the Conductor shows them they are near the North Pole. Upon arrival, the Conductor and children exit the cars, but Hero Boy and Hero Girl notice Billy staying in the observation car and go to convince him to come. However, the car is mistakenly uncoupled by Hero Boy and rolls away down a steep track. Hero Boy stops the car using a brake wheel just as they reach a turntable. The children get off the car and go through one of the tunnels to return to the Square.
Following Santa's departure, the children get back onboard the cars while some elves use a handcar to recouple the observation car. Hero Boy tries showing the other children his new bell, but it had fallen through his ripped pocket and the train had already started moving. Billy exits the cars when the train arrives at his house, then Hero Boy at his where the Conductor wishes him a merry Christmas from the moving cars.
The player must collect two passenger cars before they can go through the exit tunnel. They also can optionally collect an extra coach especially for the Hero Boy.
Hero Boy runs across the passenger cars to retrieve his ticket, which the wind had blown out a window and stuck to the observation car. The Hobo then helps Hero Boy back to the first car by skiing down the cars.
The passenger cars closely resemble steel heavyweight passenger cars built by the Pullman Company in the 1920's and 1930's. They were used by several railroads in the United States and today can be found at various preserved railroads across the country.
The passenger cars are all painted blue with red horizonal stripes going along the side windows and a black roof. In the film, the next-to-last car also has the words, "Polar Express" in yellow on the sides under the windows.
In some merchandise lines, the wording appears on all the cars and is above the windows instead.
- Across various Polar Express media, the number of cars on the train varies.
- The train appears with five cars throughout most of the film. However, on occasion, it is seen with as little as three or as many as eleven and twenty. Also, the interiors of only three cars are seen, including the abandoned toy car, the observation car, and next to last passenger car.
- It is unknown how many cars the train pulls in the book, but when the story is featured in "The Polar Express: CD-ROM Multimedia Edition", seven cars appear. However, when the train goes through the forest, there are eight cars. It also reveals there is no observation car.
- The interior of thirteen different cars are seen throughout the video game. In "The Rooftop Rescue" level, Hero Boy walks across over thirty cars before meeting the Hobo. In "Chasing The Train" level, it's pulling six cars, and also the observation car isn't part of that level.
- There are fifteen cars in the The Polar Express Ticket Chase.
- During the hot chocolate scene, the waiters initially kept clipping the ceiling, so the interior of the passenger car was expanded to accomodate them just for that scene. The doors and center aisle was also widened so the machine could fit through and to avoid cramping the waiters, chefs, and Conductor.
- Schaub, David (February 22, 2005). "'The Polar Express' Diary: Part 3 -- The MoCap/Anim Process". Animation World Network.
Abandoned toy car
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