Tickets are magical shiny golden tickets which all the children need to have punched in order travel on the Polar Express as passengers. One side has a picture of the train coming out of a tunnel while the other side reads "Round Trip" in the center with the words "The Polar Express" in cursive above and a picture of a silver bell underneath. They seem to magically appear in the children's possession sometime after they get on the train.
Role in the film
For the trip to the North Pole, the Conductor punches two letters in each of the children's tickets that become a word or phrase for the return trip representing a message for the child. Hero Boy gets a B on the left side of his ticket and an E on the right, Know-It-All and Hero Girl each get "LE" on the left side of their tickets, and Billy's reads "ON" on the right side.
The Conductor goes around to punch the tickets right after the train passes by Herpolsheimer's. He first comes to Hero Boy, who looks confused, so he suggests he checks his pocket. Hero Boy only finds a hole in his right pocket, so the Conductor suggests the left and sure enough, there is a ticket, much to Hero Boy's surprise. He hands it to the Conductor, who punches it. After Know-It-All gets his ticket punched, he claims to Hero Boy that the Conductor is showing off his punching and wonders what his "LE" means.
Later, when Hero Girl goes with the Conductor to give some hot chocolate to Billy, Hero Boy finds her ticket, not punched, left on her seat, so he goes to return it, but loses it to the wind while trying to switch cars. It gets stuck on a window, so Hero Boy opens the window to retrieve it, but that gets it blown away again. It lands on the ground in the forest and is blown away yet again when a pack of wolves run past. As it falls towards a river, an eagle catches it and feeds it to its eaglet, who spits it out. Having crumpled into a ball, it lands in the snow and becomes a large snowball as it rolls down a hill. The snowball hits a rock, causing the ticket to flatten again and land on the tracks in front of a tunnel. The train passes and the ticket gets blown underneath. It flies back into the passenger car and sticks onto the air vent above the emergency brake.
At that moment, the Conductor realizes he forgot to punch Hero Girl's ticket and goes to do so, but Hero Girl cannot find it. Hero Boy explains the events and tries to offer her his ticket, but the Conductor forbids this and takes Hero Girl to the back of the train, onto the roof and to the cab of the locomotive. Hero Boy, after Know-It-All says she might get thrown off the train, goes to pull the emergency brake, but stops when he finds her ticket on the air vent above, so he grabs it and goes after Hero Girl and the Conductor. On the roof, he meets a mysterious Hobo and puts the ticket in his slipper at the Hobo's suggestion. Later, the wind blows it out while the train is on the Ice Lake, but Hero Boy and Hero Girl catch it. The train gets back on the tracks and Hero Girl thanks Hero Boy for finding her ticket. The Conductor overhears and punches Hero Girl's ticket right away.
The Conductor punches the tickets again for the return trip. He creates the word "LEARN" on Know-It-All's ticket, though he initially reads it as "LEAN" as his finger was covering a letter. Billy's ticket reads "DEPEND ON", but it changes to "RELY ON" and "COUNT ON" with each time he flips it. The Conductor calls it "some special ticket." He punches "LEAD" on Hero Girl's ticket, which she initially pronounces as the metal until the Conductor corrects her. Finally, he punches Hero Boy's ticket behind his back. The word is "BELIEVE", though the Conductor interrupts him before he reads it out loud, saying he does not need to know what it says. Hero Boy boards the train and his ticket disappears in sparkles as he puts it back in his pocket.
Shortly after Hero Boy boards the train, the Ebenezer Scrooge puppet makes a plan to steal and hide all of the children's tickets to keep them from reaching the North Pole and believing in Santa Claus. He gets other toys on the train to help him, but Hero Boy defeats them and returns all the stolen tickets to the children. However, Scrooge then steals Hero Girl's ticket and sticks it to an air vent. Fortunately, Hero Boy finds the ticket and goes to return it to Hero Girl, whom the Conductor has taken to drive the train. He makes it to the locomotive thanks to the Hobo, but with so much happening regarding the locomotive breaking down and the caribou crossing, he forgets to return the ticket until the Conductor brings up the matter.
A ticket appears as one of the optional pick-ups the player can collect.
The wind blows Hero Boy's ticket out the window and sticks it to the observation car. The player, as Hero Boy, must run across the roof of the cars to retrieve the ticket, dodging obstacles along the way.
Behind the scenes
The tickets are an original element from the film; they are not featured in the book. The film originally would have had the Conductor punch the entire words mirrored, appearing this way on both sides of the ticket. The idea was dropped when director Robert Zemeckis thought some children might be able to read backwards. Several alternate designs for the tickets were created before the golden design was settled on.
The journey of Hero Girl's ticket was included as a way to feature the illustration from the book where some wolves watch the train pass through the forest. For a moment, the wolves strike the same pose as in the original illustration. The sequence would have also ran for five minutes with the ticket being more sentient, folding itself into a butterfly or an airplane and flying after the train. At one point, while in its airplane form, it would get stuck on the tracks after hitting a tree, then a bunny would try to free it. This was cut out for time, shortening the journey to two minutes.
- Each tickets has a different number on them. Hero Boy's has 0001225, Hero Girl's has 0122500, Know-It-All's has 0012250 and Billy's has 1225000. Each one has seven digits with "1225" in it and zeroes filling the remaining three places. 1225 is the date of Christmas, 12/25, as well as the number of Pere Marquette 1225, the real-life locomotive which the Polar Express locomotive is based on.
- In some international DVD releases of the film, the words punched on the tickets are changed to match the language of the dub.
- In one of the trailers for the film, Hero Boy's ticket magically appears in his hand as he is taking it out of his pocket.
- On some railroads, the tickets for The Polar Express Train Ride resemble those seen in the film. There are a few occasions in which the Conductor punches words out of them.
- Cotta Vaz, Mark. Starkey, Steve. (November 4, 2004) The Art of the Polar Express, Chronicle Books. p. 38-39. ISBN 978-0811846592.
- Schaub, David (November 15, 2005). "'The Polar Express Diary': Part 4 -- Keyframe Animation". Animation World Network.
|Billy's present • Ebenezer Scrooge puppet • Emergency brake • The first gift of Christmas • Fritz the Dog • Hot chocolate • Northern lights • Record players • Silver bell • Tickets|