New North Pole Village Opens In Bryson City, N.C.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 - by Swain County Chamber of Commerce

This year, passengers on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad’s The Polar Express train are the first to see the brand new North Pole Village that the railroad created for this yearly event. As in the past, the surrounding town is brightly lit with colorful, Christmas lights. But now as the train arrives, waiting for riders is a large-scale, gothic-style North Pole Village that looks like it came straight from the pages of Chris Van Allsburg’s book.

The North Pole Village is comprised of six individual structures that span over 300 feet long and include The Clock Tower, Bakery, Toy Re-Bicycling, Hot Chocolate Factory, Gift Wrapping and the Naughty and Nice Office (Human Resources Department, naturally).

GSMR creative designers stenciled bricks on each building by hand to ensure that the detail is correct. There are 60 quaintly lit frosted windows dotting throughout the buildings and over 1000 twinkling lights accenting the nooks and crannies. The star of the set is Santa’s bright red sleigh. Weighing over 400 pounds, the 12-foot-long sleigh needs all the magic of the season to lift off!

The Polar Express made its debut at the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad in the winter of 2004. It was projected that the railroad would carry 3,000 passengers when in fact they carried 33,000. Popularity continued to grow and this 2013 season it is projected to carry over 50,000 passengers.

According to Sarah Pressley, GSMR Marketing Manager, “Year after year we (GSMR) always try to challenge ourselves to be as creative as we can be within our limits. This new set has always been a dream of ours and it has finally come to fruition. Our goal is to try and provide the most authentic experience we can with our presentation. Our passengers have always given us feedback for 'more lights, more buildings' and this is our answer!
“We’ll also have some other surprises for our riders within this North Pole Village. Watch out! You may just see the smoke stacks filling with real smoke, the jack-in-the-box popping out to say hello, elves dancing in celebration, or maybe even the mysterious hobo keeping warm by the fire on the box car! The Magic is everywhere, so there is no telling just who might appear!”

For more information and reservations call 800 872-4681 or look online at

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