All aboard! The Sullivan Santa Express Train Ride is an Indianapolis Christmastime tradition that is truly one-of-a-kind and magical! The train ride takes place at the Sullivan Hardware and Garden store located at 71st and North Keystone in Indy. Read on for all of the details so you know what to expect.
The Sullivan Santa Express Train Ride
Entrance and Waiting
When you arrive at Sullivan Hardware, you’ll walk through the store to the garden center where you’ll check in to board the train. You should buy your tickets in advance online.
There is a play area there that includes activity tables and model trains (of course!) for the kids to check out while you’re waiting. You can also stroll through the beautiful garden center to view all of the Christmas displays and trees.
Trip to the North Pole
Once it’s your turn to board, you’ll climb into your family’s train car and take off on your narrated train ride to the North Pole. The ride there takes 7 minutes.
During that time, the train must travel through “bear country” before making it to the North Pole. Along the way, you will weave in and out of sheds and buildings to take in funny and adorable lifesize Christmas scenes. Some of the scenes include reindeer exercising in a weight room, elves decorating trees, and bakers making candy canes.
The Sullivan Santa Express Train is a trackless train with a beautiful engine and four passenger cars. Your family will be together in one passenger car, which is big enough to fit four average-sized adults or the equivalent.
The train is open-air, but it does have a roof, and they do pull down see-through plastic windows when it’s very cold or raining. The train travels at 5 miles per hour, so you have plenty of time to check everything out along the way.
The North Pole
When you arrive at the North Pole, you will disembark and walk into Santa’s heated workshop. Inside you’ll find a couple of activity tables to occupy the kids while they wait for their turn to visit with Santa.
The whole experience at the North Pole lasts around 15 minutes, and it’s really nice not to wait in a line. They accomplish this by moving everyone through in groups as they disembark and then load trains. It’s been very efficient every time we’ve visited, and we’ve never felt rushed in our interaction with Santa.
The Big Man
When it’s your turn to meet Santa, you can take as many pictures as you’d like. Santa will give each of the children a gift, and then send you on your way. Santa, of course, is very jolly and welcoming. He looks exactly as you’d expect.
The ride back to Sullivan Hardware takes 8 minutes. When you get back, we recommend having some hot cocoa or cookies from Sully’s Grill and then heading out to the The Yellow House (scroll down for more about that).
In 2021, the cost to reserve one passenger car is $65 on weekdays and $75 on weekends. If your family can sit comfortably in the space that four average-sized adults would need, then you just need one passenger car. Since you take your own pictures, there are no additional costs during the trip.
Non-Stop Train Rides
You can come and ride the train for a discounted price when Santa is not at the North Pole. Those tickets cost $30 per family. Check their website for more information about when non-stop tickets and rides are available.
Sullivan’s also has adults-only events available! These events have been offered in past years, but you should check their website to see if they’re going on this year:
Sullivan Lunch Express:
Enjoy lunch from Sully’s Grill, take the Sullivan Express train ride to the North Pole, and then hop the train back to the store. Lunch Express is only available on select dates from 11:30 until 2:00pm.
The Late Train:
This event is only for those 21 and older. You will enjoy appetizers and desserts from Sully’s Grill, a Sullivan Express train ride, a meeting with Santa, and a glass of wine. The Late Train only rolls on select dates and typical boarding times are 8:50pm, 9:10pm and 9:30pm.
North Pole Comedy Club:
The North Pole Comedy Club is only for those 21 and older. After you purchase whatever beverages you’d like at Sully’s Grill, then you’ll hop the Sullivan Express to the North Pole to hear some good, clean jokes from Santa, aka Dave Wilson.
In addition, a headliner will make your belly jiggle from laughter for about 50 minutes. This show is only available on select nights in December.
The Yellow House
The Yellow House is a gift, garden, accessories, and home accents store housed in an early 1900s farmhouse that sits at the back of the Sullivan Hardware property. Make sure you check them out during your visit to pick up some unique Christmas gifts.
The Sullivan Santa Express tickets always go fast, so make sure you get them while you can. Our family has seen our fair share of trains, and we call this train ride one of the best. We have loved every visit to Sullivan’s Hardware, and we are certain your family will, too!