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Guide to Visiting the Irvine Park Railroad Christmas Train

Irvine Park Railroad Christmas 6

Once a year, the Irvine Regional Park transforms into a winter wonderland with a magical train ride that transports you through the tree-lit woods up to the North Pole. Your adventure begins when you enter the park at dusk and drive towards the railroad. From a distance tiny lights are a glow and the sound of the train is heard tooting away from the depot. As you walk up to Will Call, a yellow building by the entrance of Santa’s Village, you hear the merry sounds of Christmas and can’t help yourself from singing along.

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Irvine Park Railroad Christmas 7

At the counter you pick up the tickets purchased on-line, as well as any extra tickets purchased for Christmas Cookie Decorating, Santa Bounce House Jumper and Christmas Carnival Games; each can be purchased for $4. It’s best to arrive early so that you can take in all the fun that Santa’s Village has to offer.

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Irvine Park Railroad Christmas 10

Irvine Park Railroad Christmas 11

In previous years, I waited to visit the village after the train-ride but this year we switched it up and explored the village first which worked out really well for our family. With so many options my children couldn’t decide what they wanted to do first. My son insisted the carnival games should be first and my daughter suggested the bounce house. After a coin toss, we headed to the carnival games. Everyone’s a winner at these carnival games. Regardless of age or size, you will win a prize and the prizes aren’t little chachkies, they are large blow up animals, cute elves and reindeer’s. With prizes in hand, we headed to the bounce house. All the bouncing must have made the kids hungry because as they bounced they declared the need for cookies!

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Irvine Park Railroad Christmas 12
The cookie tent is made up of multiple tables filled with cans of colorful frosting and jars of sprinkles. My children received a giant cookie. Ten minutes later and five coats of frosting/ sprinkles, my kids were ready to hit the maze.

The maze is about 5 feet tall and can be a bit confusing for the little ones, but so much fun. My kids were pros by their second go so don’t feel intimated. After their third go at the maze, my daughter ran straight to the coloring/wish list tent to prepare her list for Santa.

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Irvine Park Railroad Christmas 5

As my children’s lists grew longer and longer we saw Mrs. Claus walking towards the Elf Shack for story time. Outside the Elf Shack, a beautiful backdrop of Christmas Trees and presents surround a single reading chair. Mrs. Claus, with a stack of books in her hand greets the children sitting on hay bales in front of her and starts to read How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

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Irvine Park Railroad Christmas 1

With hot cocoa, that can be purchased in the shack, in hand the children listen to the beautifully read tale. Once finished, Mrs. Claus invites the children to take pictures with her smiling, listening and answering their questions, making the experience even more special.

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Over the loud-speaker we get alerted that our train will be arriving in five minutes and line up at the depot. In the distance the whistle is heard and our train arrives decked out in holiday garland. The train took us on a breathtaking journey filled with holiday lights and ornaments and just when we thought that the staff couldn’t top that, we saw the stage and Santa.


A white backdrop filled with dozens of Christmas trees, thousands of white lights and ornaments and a special guest dressed in red sitting on a cream-colored couch. As my kids walk up to Santa, list in hand, they are greeted with a warm hello. After spending a good amount of time with Santa and having their pictures taken, they are given a candy cane. On the train ride back, my son puts his head on my shoulder and told me that this was the magic of Christmas.


I’m an OC mom of two and photographer. I love living in Southern California and want to expose my children to all that it offers. I love taking my kids on adventures and capturing their every moment so much so that my kids find it odd if I don’t take their pictures. You can see my work on

We visited as guests of Irvine Park Railroad

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