Visit the North Pole by Polar Express in the Hamptons

North Pole Hamptons
North Pole Hamptons, Photo: famveldman/123RF

Move over, Pumpkintown, here comes the North Pole.

A wonderful thing for families to do in the autumn in the Hamptons is to go to Hank’s Pumpkintown, a wonderful pop-up village full of rides, games and mazes and pumpkin picking that springs up every year in the fall between Southampton and Water Mill. As a pop-up village just to the west of the Parrish Art Museum, it causes traffic jams for the happy families who come there with their kids, but then, at the beginning of November, it closes up tight for the year.

Now, joining the Hamptons for the first time, is a new pop-up village called the North Pole, which takes over where Pumpkintown leaves off, staying open between November and the end of December. You don’t use your car to get there. You go there by Polar Express from the Omni in Southampton—though not a steam engine train as in the movie, but as an old-fashioned Christmas trolley car. Also, nobody knows where this place is until you get there, which takes 30 minutes. It’s sort of a mystery ride. And it all continues until just before Christmas Day, because the North Pole has to clear everything out of the way to come deliver the toys to the kids in the Hamptons by sleigh and reindeer on the night of December 24. Then like any pop-up, it’s gone.

Also, the North Pole has nothing to do with the Pumpkintown pop-up. Different pop-up, different company.

You know how Pumpkintown worked. Here’s some specifics about how the trip to the North Pole works. A Polar Express trolley car leaves the Omni from Thursday through Sunday, four times each day between 4:30 and 8:30 p.m. It’s dark out when it leaves, but inside the trolley car jingle bells ring, the Polar Express music is played and the book The Polar Express is read by Liam Neeson (by recording). In addition, there are some of the characters from the Polar Express movie in that car who you can talk to, and the conductor, in his old-fashioned conductor uniform like in the movie, cuts everybody’s gold ticket, and snacks are served.

Half an hour later, the trolley arrives at the North Pole, which, because it’s cold outside, is indoors in a big warehouse building all decked out with busy elves and decorations and music and snacks and presents, and each kid gets to sit on Santa’s lap, interact with the elves and other residents, enjoy a light show, and then, after a bit, amidst fond and sad farewells, the kids and their parents go out to the trolley outside and are led home. On the way, hot cocoa and cookies are served to anyone who is still awake and another 30 minutes later you’re back in Southampton.

The cost is $53 per person, everybody is encouraged to wear pajamas, and at the end of the adventure, the children MUST, that is MUST, go home. They cannot stay at the North Pole. Also, everybody has to be over two years old. A similar North Fork trolley leaves at the same time from The All-Star bowling alley at 96 Main Road in Riverhead.

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