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Railtown’s Polar Express Earns Continental Bragging Rights

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Jamestown, CA – A local attraction has earned continental bragging rights by delivering hot frothy cocoa service, a true-to-story experience with the jolliest of volunteers, and a real steam locomotive ride.

On Thursday, Jeannie Teschke, the Railtown 1897 programs/events coordinator shared with Clarke Broadcasting that the state park’s Polar Express experience it has offered now over the winter holidays for the past six seasons just received the highest rating ever recorded for the attraction.

Based both on the well-loved namesake holiday book by Chris Van Allsburg and Warner Brothers’ major motion picture starring Tom Hanks, the trademarked experience, which is overseen by Rail Events, Inc. under the Warner Brothers’ umbrella, has 55 authorized operators across North America.

On Wednesday, Teschke received verification on a Rail Events conference call that Railtown’s production this past holiday season earned a rating of 90 out of 100, the highest score across all the Polar Express operations that Rail Events’ representatives had yet seen.

As Teschke explains, “When riders ride within so many hours they receive a customer endorsement survey, asking questions about everything relating to their experience…[staff] helpfulness, cleanliness, the North Pole [setting]…they rate the treats, the hot cocoa, the Santa.”

That Railtown has always scored well is a fact Teschke attributes to its dedicated volunteer base. “Rail Events…set the parameters and we have to follow their guidance.” The details are exacting as to the trip-length, the experience of reading the story on board, the music, and other components. The company also has a research team that conducts and oversees post-ride surveys.

Ever Committed To ‘Kicking It Up A Notch’

She describes Railtown’s operation as fairly small compared to all the other authorized Polar Express rides. “We have worked really hard and I think it’s based a lot on the attitudes of our volunteers who work it. They are extremely upbeat and every year we try to tweak it and bring it up. We work in conjunction with the California State Railroad Foundation in Sacramento, which has been doing Polar more years than us.”

Asked if she knows how Sacramento’s ride rated, she diplomatically replies, “They got a 68, which is pretty good. They have a little work to do but they are a much bigger operation than ours and a little harder to control.”

This past holiday season, Railtown counted over 9,500 riders during its Polar Express days of operation. Teschke heard from Rail Events that a total of 1.4 million riders experienced the 55 different authorized Polar Express attractions across the nation and in Canada.

Along with the folks who lovingly and enthusiastically help bring the experience alive every year in Railtown, Teschke allows that the park’s setting and Hollywood history probably add to the charm along with that the ride provides handicapped-access, something Sacramento does not have.

Musingly, she adds, “One of the other things — apparently out of all of those Polar Express organizations, there are only about four that operate steam [locomotives] — and we are one of them!”

Click into the image box to view a slideshow of images and to read more about Railtown and its Polar Express experience click here.