The Polar Express Experience is a Motion Simulation ride based on the film which debuted in November 2007 at SeaWorld Orlando as a temporary replacement for the Wild Arctic attraction and closed on January 1, 2008. After then, it re-opened annually during the Christmas season until 2015. The building which housed the attraction was also re-themed into a railroad station with ride vehicles resembling the passenger cars.
Several scenes from the film are projected on the screen to tell the film's plot. Guests feel the motion of the locomotive, including it swinging as it glides across the Ice Lake and falling as the ice cracks beneath.
The 4D film, distributed by SimEx-Iwerks, has been shown at other amusement parks around the world, including the cincinatti Zoo and Botanical Garden, Dollywood, the Vancouver Aquarium from 2009 to 2010, and Warner Bros. Movie World in 2010 and 2011.
Differences from the Film
Due to being cut to ten minutes, several scenes from the film are cut or rearranged for the attraction:
- A lot of the soundtrack is rearranged.
- Billy, Know-It-All, the Hobo and the caribou are completely absent.
- The attraction cuts straight from the opening to the train approaching Hero Boy's house. This is more similar to the book.
- The Conductor telling Hero Boy why the train stopped for him is omitted.
- After Hero Boy gets on the train, it cuts straight to the Conductor punching his ticket.
- Since the train does not stop at Billy's house, Hero Boy does not pull the emergency brake, but the train still stops without explanation. The Conductor still gets angry however, but not at Hero Boy.
- The sequence with Hero Girl's ticket being blown away from the train is shown, except they do not show it being blown out of Hero Boy's hand nor getting back into the passenger car.
- The entire scene with Hero Boy trying to return Hero Girl's ticket and meeting up with the Hobo is cut, but the train still goes through Flat Top Tunnel.
- While Smokey and Steamer were fixing the locomotive's headlamp, Smokey catches site of Glacier Gulch, not a herd of caribou.
- Since the caribou scene is cut, it is unexplained why the Conductor, Hero Boy and Hero Girl are at the front of the locomotive.
- Also, it appears as though they, along with Smokey and Steamer, were all at there at the same time, so it is unknown who was driving the train.
- Since Smokey and Steamer were at the front of the locomotive, the Conductor does not mention having lost communication with the engineer.
- It appears as though Smokey and Steamer got back to the cab sometime during Glacier Gulch.
- Smokey and Steamer never loose the cotter pin, which does not even get loose from the throttle.
- The Conductor does not say, "Jiminy Christmas, the ice is frozen over the tracks!"
- Since the pin was never lost, Steamer is able to stop the train right after it ends up on the Ice Lake. This also means that nothing pierced the ice, but the ice still cracks without explanation.
- Hero Girl's ticket is not blown out of Hero Boy's slipper, though it is seen briefly while the train is getting back on the tracks.
- The abandoned toy car and "When Christmas Comes to Town" scenes are cut.
- When the train arrives at the North Pole, the children do not ask about the lack of elves.
- Hero Boy, Hero Girl and Billy do not get lost at the North Pole; it goes straight to the Conductor and the children seeing Santa Claus. This is also more similar to the book.
- Santa declares the silver bell the first gift of Christmas right after Hero Boy picks it up from the ground and hands it to him.
- The ride ends with the narrator reading the closing line while the train is leaving the North Pole, meaning that the events occurring after the train leaves the North Pole are removed.