As I've said before, Pullen Park in Raleigh is my absolute favorite park to take my kids in the Raleigh area. So when I saw Holiday Express At Pullen Park, I ran straight home to look it up. And I'm so glad I did because you have to buy tickets to attend. A month before the event, two of the days were already sold out. The cost was $8 per ticket and you can ride the train and carousel an unlimited number of times, but we certainly didn't get $8 worth of rides per person.
It was a lot of fun, the decorations/lights were gorgeous and when you were on the train it was spectacular! However, I am not going to rave and rave about it. In fact, I may not go back until my kids are a few years older. The biggest problem was the lines. You couldn't park at Pullen, you had to drive to the Dorothea Dix Soccer Fields, where you parked and waited in line for the bus to take you to the park. It was about 20-25 minute wait. Then, you wait in line to pick up the wristbands. You can do this the week of the Holiday Express event, but we live kind of far out so it wasn't convenient to go ahead of time.
Those lines were not the big issue, though. The issue is the train line. It seemed like a half-hour wait to get on the train, maybe more, but after waiting in the two previous lines, my kids were not in the mood to wait again. (They are 1 and 3). When we finally got on the train, that's where we got our monies worth. The train was lit up and there were wonderful, exciting (for the kids) displays around the entire track. My kids absolutely squealed with delight. But we weren't able to ride again because the line was even longer the rest of the visit. The carousel was fun, but the lines were pretty long and were even longer after our first ride. That's all we did. The line for Santa was pretty long most of the time, too.
What I really enjoyed was, of course, the train ride but also there were little craft stations. My oldest daughter made reindeer food, which we toted all the way up to Pennsylvania for Christmas and emptied on Aunt Chrissy's front lawn. Both girls made Christmas ornaments. It was so cute and absolutely wonderful to see my youngest (22 months) get to participate in a craft. Those, too, made the trip to Pennsylvania. My kids liked the clown with the little frog puppet, too.
Did we have a good time? Absolutely. Is it a must-do event? Sure, for the right ages. Will we do it again next year? No likely.
520 Ashe Ave
Raleigh, NC 27606
HIGHLIGHTS: The Train Ride, most of the regular Pullen Park stuff were still accessible, lights were gorgeous, people working were very friendly and seemed genuinely happy to be there, the clown, some of the crafts were wonderful and it's fun to experience the park at night.
COST: $8 per person (under 2 are free)