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Indiana State Museum adds new train ride for holidays

Celebration Crossing is introducing a 4½-minute train ride called the "Snowfall Express."

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana State Museum is adding a new attraction for the holiday season.

Celebration Crossing is introducing a 13,000-square-foot, 4½-minute train ride called the "Snowfall Express" that will take visitors "through a forest where Indiana’s animals past and present are preparing for winter’s first snow," according to the museum.

From Nov. 26 until Jan. 2, 2022, visitors riding the train will have the chance to experience the sights, sounds and aromas of the season.

“You’re taking that journey through the first snowfall in every way that we can present it,” said Brian Mancuso, the museum’s chief officer of engagement, in a release announcing the new ride. “The whole thing has a storybook feel, and at the core of it is family memories and bringing families together.”

The new ADA-accessible trackless train features four cars with seats for up to 18 people. The ride is free with a museum admission.

State Museum and Historic Sites’ staff created the train, which was enhanced with the artwork of local artist Candice Hartsough. Original music for the ride was composed by Fort Wayne-based Eric Van Cleave.

Celebration Crossing begins Nov. 26 when Santa arrives by helicopter at 11 a.m. to light the 92 County Tree and kick off the holiday season. 

This year, Santa will be back in his house and available for either up-close or socially-distanced visits. 

LINK: State Museum Santa Schedule

The Snowfall Express is not the only museum train. The historic L.S. Ayres train returns, as well.

The L.S. Ayres Tea Room will again be open for lunch and other events, and the Great Hall will again be decorated with giant ornaments and trees.

Reindeer Barn, which debuted in 2020, will be returning with a new feature called the Tot Spot next to the Reindeer Barn, where the museum’s youngest visitors can enjoy age-appropriate toys and activities.

Full event list 

L.S. Ayres Tea Room lunch buffet
Wednesday through Sunday, Nov. 26 – Jan. 2, 2022, plus Dec. 13, 14, 20, 21, 27 and 28
Seating times: 11 a.m., 11:15 a.m.,12:30 p.m., 12:45 p.m., 2 p.m. and 2:15 p.m.
Cost: $26.50 for adults, $15.50 for children ages 3-12, under 3 free

Menu includes: Chicken velvet soup, tea-time sandwiches, miniature desserts Tea Room gift certificates are available for purchase.

Santa's Holiday Breakfast in the Great Hall
Seating times 9 a.m. and 9:45 a.m.
Weekend dates: Nov. 28, Dec. 4, 5, 12 and 18
Cost: $35 for adults, $25 children ages 3-13, under 3 free.
Members receive a 25% discount
Registration is required at least 24 hours prior to each event

RELATED: 'Santa's Holiday Breakfast' returns to Indiana State Museum

Holiday Sounds
Times: 10 a.m., 10:45 a.m. and 11:45 a.m.
Dates: Dec. 1-5, 8-9 and 15-17
Cost: Included with museum admission
Performers include school and community choirs, bands, ensembles and soloists performing holiday music daily in the museum’s Great Hall.

Magical Mornings
Time: 9 a.m.
Dates: Dec. 3, 10, 17 and *31
Cost: Included with museum admission
Families with children 6 and younger can visit Santa, listen to interactive story times at 9:15 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. and experience the new Tot Spot toddler area and Santa’s Front Yard. Magical Mornings features fewer light shows, limited sounds and small crowd sizes to ensure a safe and inclusive environment for the littlest museum visitor and children with autism spectrum disorder. *Santa will not appear after Christmas

Winter Wonderland Workshop
Dates and times: 11 a.m. Dec. 4 and 9
Cost: $14 for youth plus museum admission
Members receive a 25% discount
A hands-on, steam-inspired workshop for 4-to 6-year-olds allows kids to design and engineer their own (inedible) cardboard gingerbread homes.

Putting on Ayres: Tales from the Tea Room
Date: 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 5
Cost: $22.50-$30.50 per person (ages 15-over)
The festive dessert buffet includes mini pecan ice cream balls, lemon berry mascarpone cake and miniature pastries, plus add a Clown Cone or Snow Princess option from the L.S. Ayres Tea Room. Museum staff share items from the collection associated with the Tea Room.
Registration required by 3:30 p.m. Dec. 2. 

Snowflake Pajama Party
Date: 6 p.m. on Dec. 14
Cost: $10 per person, free to children under 2
$5 for Access Pass members
Members receive a 25% discount
Guests explore Celebration Crossing and see Santa while wearing PJs and enjoy hands-on holiday activities.

Family New Year's Eve Sparkle and Shine
Date: 6 to 9 p.m. on Dec. 31
Cost: $16 per person, free to children under 3
$8 for Access Pass members
Members receive a 25% discount
Start 2022 festivities with tattoos, music, a dance party and more, including photo ops, activity stations in the galleries, a science show and a balloon drop and confetti at 8 p.m.

People at home can still enjoy the Jingle Hangout featuring an assortment of games and activities online.

“If you didn’t come in 2020, but you came in 2019, you’ll be surprised and delighted,” Mancuso said. “Everything is different.”

RELATED: WTHR looks back at L. S. Ayres

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