More than 20,000 people will visit EnterTRAINment Junction’s free holiday train display and its Journey to the North Pole attraction before the new year, according to EnterTRAINment general manager Bill Balfour.
“It is by far our biggest time of year,” Balfour said.
“People, for some reason, have always associated trains with Christmas.”
The West Chester model train destination started featuring its holiday attractions in 2008, after opening in August of that same year. Balfour, who has served as the venue’s general manager before it opened, said the holiday activities bring in 20 percent more people each year and also make up more than 20 percent of the people who visit the destination each year.
“I don’t think we envisioned it becoming as big as it has become,” Balfour said. “I think we underestimated that whole combination of trains and Christmas.
“A lot of people remember having a train around their Christmas tree and it is very nostalgic and fun and it just comes together in a nice warm, happy package.”
The actual holiday train display, which also features lighted Christmas trees and musical artist Neil Young’s train set that he used to play with while on tour, is free for the public.
The free display, which opened Nov. 17, is put up in a two-week period while EnterTRAINment Junction employees take down the Halloween display at the same time.
Besides the free holiday train display, the Journey to the North Pole exhibit takes visitors through a series of rooms that feature falling snow, Christmas trees, Santa’s reindeer stables, an elf workshop, free cookies from Mrs. Claus’ kitchen and a private visit with Santa Claus.
“We have a great Santa Claus experience,” Balfour said. “You walk through the North Pole, Mrs. Claus gives you a cookie and then you have private time with Santa and you family. That means you don’t feel that crush of people around you like you get with other Santa situations.”
Personal cameras are permitted into Santa’s house, however pictures with Santa will also be available for purchase as people leave the holiday attraction.
Tickets to take the journey to Santa’s house are $9.95 and include admission into the A-Maze-N FunHouse, which opened in March of 2011. The clowned-themed funhouse features four additional attractions including Curtain Chaos, Clown College, Mirror Maze and Journey Through the Black Hole.
According to Balfour, about 95 percent of customers purchase a Do-It-All pass for $15.95 for adults. The ticket includes admission into the funhouse, as well as into the venue’s 25,000-square foot indoor model train display, an interactive kids’ play area and into the American Railroading Museum.
To accommodate the extra visitors this holiday season, EnterTRAINment will extend its hours from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Dec. 15-23, Dec. 26-30. The venue opens at 10 a.m. Monday through Saturday and at noon on Sundays. EnterTRAINment will also be open on Christmas Eve, but will close at 4 p.m.
Discounted tickets and other promotions can be found at entertrainmentjunction.com.
IF YOU GO
What: EnterTRAINment Junction’s free holiday train display and Journey to the North Pole attraction.
When: Through Dec. 31; 10-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 12-6 p.m. Sunday. Extended hours (open until 9 p.m. Dec. 15-23, Dec. 26-30). Closes at 4 p.m. Christmas Eve and on New Year’s Eve. Closed on Christmas.
Where: 7379 Squire Court, West Chester Township.
Directions: From Cincinnati, take Intersate 75 north to Exit 22 (Tylersville Road toward Mason), turn right onto Tylersville Road, take first right onto Kingsgate Way, take first right onto Squire Court.
Admission and parking: Parking and the holiday train display is free. Admission to the Journey to the North Pole exhibit, which includes admission to the A-Maze-N FunHouse attraction, is $9.95. Do-It-All tickets are $15.95 for adults. Tickets prices can vary for children (3 through 12) and ages 2 and under are free.