The North Pole Express is a holiday event that has been held annually since 2004 by the Steam Railroading Institute. They take place in November and December during the weekends.
The event involves Pere Marquette 1225, the locomotive which inspired The Polar Express, representing its fictional counterpart. At the Steam Railroading Institute in Owosso, Michigan, passengers board a train being pulled by #1225, which takes them on an hour-long journey to the village of Ashley. During the ride, passengers can interact with various characters from the film, including the Conductor, the Hobo, and Santa Claus. They can also drink hot chocolate, which is available in a concession car along with other refreshments.
When the train arrives in Ashley, the passengers get off and participate in the Village of Ashley's Country Christmas. Various activities are hosted there, including horse drawn carriage rides, a petting zoo, street performances and meeting Santa. After two hours, Santa gives the first gift of Christmas before the passengers board #1225 again for the return trip to Owosso.
The passengers can choose to ride in different classes, each one providing them with different accommodations and souvenirs. All passengers receive a silver bell and a ticket, but the higher classes also offer more souvenirs, including a mug and 1225 collector's item. The Cocoa Class gives passengers access to unlimited hot chocolate while the Caboose Class allows them to ride in their own private caboose with their own private Conductor.