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A Christmas Soundtrack for the Polar Express Movie

Updated on December 10, 2012

All Aboard the Polar Express


The Polar Express in 2004

I remember when the movie, The Polar Express, first opened. It was 2004 and I was living in East Bay California. I shared an apartment with a family and we decided to go into San Francisco to make a day of it-the 3D movie, lunch, the whole nine yards. We were all excited.

What I first recall was the sticker shock I felt when we approached the ticket agent. I had agreed to purchase the tickets as Christmas gifts. For 2 adults and 2 children it cost a whopping $60. That wasn't even getting to the candy counter, (which we promptly vetoed).

Although the magic of the movie was enhanced with the 3D quality, and certainly many of the scenes were downright breathtaking, the initial cost to see the movie put a damper on the event for me. However, I couldn't resist the beautiful music that played throughout the movie. That was unforgettable.

Composer Alan Silvestri could not have done a more magnificent job in the direction that the music took us, and certainly in connecting with his audience. From the beginning to the end, the music plays to the mood of the story, captivating our attention and, like the Polar Express itself, you don't even realize how magical it is until it is almost over.

Silvestri Winery

Sivestri Winery, Carmel, CA:
Carmel, CA, USA

get directions

Silvestri Winery

Biography brief of composer: Alan Silvestri

Born in New Jersey, American film composer, Alan Silvestri, had an early love for music and rhythm. At age three he was banging on the drums, and woodwinds and guitar eventually followed. He embarked on his musical career in 1972 when his musical score was used in the movie: The Doberman Gang. He has had continued success for forty years.

If you have been a steady movie goer these past four decades you will surely have heard some of the soundtrack music Silvestri has written for major motion pictures. Here are the titles of several of them: Forrest Gump, Fern Gulley: The Last Rainforest, Romancing the Stone, The Bodyguard, The Parent Trap, Stuart Little, The Avengers.

As a composer, Silvestri has been nominated for many awards and won two Grammy Awards: One in 2002 for the movie Cast Away and the second in 2006 for the song, 'Believe', from the movie The Polar Express. This award was shared with Glen Ballard, who co-wrote the song.

In addition to the Grammy awards, the Max Steiner Film Music Achievement Award was presented to Silvestri in 2011, by the City of Vienna. This is an annual concert and award ceremony given to composers for extraordinary achievement in film music.

Alan Silvestri resides in California with his family and is the owner of Silvestri Vineyards in Carmel Valley, California.

Polar Express author: Chris Van Allsburg

Chris Van Allsbur was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where his grandfather built a family business around a creamery. Van Allsbur describes his early life in an idyllic way-fields and streams, starry nights and fireflies. And, when it came to college Chris Van Allsbur was interviewed, and accepted, into the prestigious University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

He studied art, excelling in sculptor, and following his graduation from U of M, completed a Masters in Fine Arts at the Rhode Island School of Design. His sculptures were showed in art galleries in New York, as well as some of his drawings.

It was his black and white sketches that drew his wife's attention as an art teacher. She brought some of Van Allsburg's sketches to a fellow artist, who encouraged Chris to write children's stories.

Chris Van Allsburg has won the Caldecott Medal for Jumanji, and The Polar Express. He lives in Rhode Island with his wife and daughters. His website encourages teachers and young writers.

Author's Cities in Michigan: Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor

Grand Rapids, Michigan:
Grand Rapids, MI, USA

get directions

Author, Chris Van Allsburg's birthplace.

U of M, Ann Arbor:
Ann Arbor, MI, USA

get directions

Van Allsburg's Alma Mater: University of Michigan

Christmas Movie: The Polar Express


The Polar Express Storyline

Most children have no problem believing in Santa Claus, but what happens when they grow older and the believing disappears? In the story, The Polar Express, our hero, DJ Walters, cannot hear the bells of Christmas ring...that is, until his magical ride to the North Pole on The Polar Express.

As the movie unfolds, he hops aboard on Christmas Eve, meets other children on their way to meet Santa, and has an adventure that changes his life...and his beliefs. When he finally wakes up in his own bed on Christmas morning, he excitedly discovers one special present left to him as a reminder of his midnight adventure-a silver bell given to him by Santa as the first present of Christmas.

This is an animated movie written by Robert Zemeckis, and the characters are given the human qualities through performance capture technology. This is a way that records the movements and action of the actors and creates the animation as if there were actual people performing.

The movie stars Tom Hanks who actually takes on six different roles: The father, the Narrator, the conductor, the Hobo, Santa, and DJ Walters-the young boy. Jennifer Bennet is the Girl Hero, played by Nona Gaye, (Meagan Moore is her singing voice), and Peter Scolari plays the part of Billy, the boy from the broken home.

Highlights from: The Polar Express Movie

The movie is very entertaining and the plot unpredictable. It brings the audience on a true adventure of intrigue, thrills, great escapes and meeting mysterious people. The animation is well done, and Hanks performances are impressive. And, the lead 'rocker' elf is none other than, Steven Tyler.

The musical score ranges from dreamy instrumental, to whimsical songs about Christmas and believing, to rocking, upbeat music. With over half a dozen songs, there is something that will please everyone. Two of my favorites are: Hot Chocolate, and Believe.

CD Soundtrack: The Polar Express

The Polar Express
The Polar Express
The delightful music from the Polar Express movie is sure to be a hit for any family with young children. 'Hot Chocolate' is a toe tapping song that is hard to resist dancing to. Although the movie is old, the music doesn't age.

Music from the Polar Express Soundtrack

Song Title
Performed by
Written by
The Polar Express
Tom Hanks
Glen Ballard & Alan Silvestri
When Christmas comes to town
Matthew Hall; Meagan Moore
G.B. & A.S.
Rockin' on top of the world
Steven Tyler
G.B. & A.S.
Josh Grodan
G.B. & A.S.
Hot Chocolate
Tom Hanks
G.B. & A.S.
Spirit of the Season
Alan Silvestri
G.B. & A.S.
Seeing is believing
Alan Silvestri
Alan Silvestri
Santa Claus is comin' to town
Frank Sinatra
Haven Gillespi, J Fred Coots
White Christmas
Bing Crosby
Irving Berlin
Winter Wonderland
Andrews Sisters
Felix Bernard, Dick Smith
It's beginning to look like Christmas
Perry Como with Fontane Sisters
Meredith Wilson
Kate Smith
Jay Livingston, Ray Evans

5 Stars for the variation and creativity of Polar Express Music

5 stars for Polar Express Soundtrack

'Hot Chocolate': Finger snapping, toe tapping music

I was living in Michigan in 2005 when my grandson, then two years old, received the DVD and soundtrack to the Polar Express. Watching any train show was a joy to him, and he had many of the Thomas the Train movies in his collection. But, what made this special was that it was not an 'animated' train, like trusty Thomas was. And, the story appealed to his older sister and parents.

I didn't realize the impact the movie had on him until I was waiting with him in the family van one afternoon. Before my daughter ran into school to pick up my granddaughter she put the Polar Express soundtrack on. The next thing I heard from the back seat was a very loud, "All aboard!" as Marco mimicked the conductor's call.

When the song, Hot Chocolate began to play he was out of his seat and thoroughly entertaining me with his rendition of the tap dancing waiters who served hot chocolate to the passengers. Attempting to suppress my laughter so he did not misunderstand my delight, I was a captive audience. He was fully engrossed in his dance by the time sister and mom arrived.

It's no wonder he jumped out of his car seat and got up to shake and jive, it is one catchy tune...and if you are watching the movie, not merely listening to the CD, it is tempting to start doing cartwheels the next time you make some hot chocolate! I recently watched the movie again and have to say that the Hot Chocolate scene is one of my favorites.

Youtube: Hot Chocolate!

Song: Believe

Believe in what you feel inside

And give your dreams the wings to fly.

You have everything you need

If you just believe...

Isn't it true? Whether it is the holiday season of Christmas, or just an average day in our lives, we must believe in our dreams in order for them to take flight. And, despite all odds against us something miraculous will take place, if we just believe.

Josh Grodan: Believe

A Ride on the 'Polar Express' can be yours

Wouldn't it be a wonderful experience to treat your children, or perhaps yourself, to an evening ride on The Polar Express? Well, did you know that you can make this happen? There are over thirty trains throughout North America that re-create the ride to Santa's home in the North Pole. Wear your pajamas, sip hot chocolate, and sing Christmas carols with other kids of all ages.

At Rail Events, Inc. you are linked to a homepage that gives detailed information about this family event held each winter season. Beginning in November through the end of December, tourists can participate in a train ride to see Santa. When they meet their destination Santa boards the train and visits with passengers while handing out gifts of silver bells.

Because each location has an individual pricing and seating schedule, it's best to go directly to for details. The Polar Express is available in the following states: New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Illinois, North Carolina, West Virginia, Washington, Missouri, Ohio, Indiana, Maine, Oregon, Texas, New Jersey, Nevada, California and Vermont. It's also available in Squamish, British Columbia, Canada.

Great Smoky Mountain Railroad: Polar Express Winter Event

226 Everett St, Bryson City, NC 28713:
226 Everett St, Bryson City, NC 28713, USA

get directions

Location of the Polar Express tour train in North Carolina Phone # 1-800-872-4681


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    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Audrey, I love this movie too, and usually watch it each Christmas season. The soundtrack is great! Thanks for commenting.

      I haven't been on HP OR Bubblews for a long time. I've been busy at work, first with finishing my mandatory reading for my annual evaluation; then with writing an article for publication in the Hospital journal. Yay!

      Mostly work schedule interference, but now I'm packing to move. Thanks for the inquiry.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      6 years ago from California

      Love love this movie---are you on Bubblews these days??

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Kevin, I'm glad you enjoyed the hub. Honestly, when I saw little Marco dancing and singing I had to smile. He was really into the music and that he remembered the details of the movie at his age was amazing. Thanks for reading this one.

    • The Examiner-1 profile image

      The Examiner-1 

      6 years ago

      This was something else Denise. I believe that I saw it when it came to TV, and judging by the price that you paid for the tickets I am kind of glad!

      It must have really been fun to watch your children/grandchildren in the back of that van dance and sing to that DVD. :-) You did a great job describing the highlights. I gave it a thumbs up and straight across.


    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      Thank you, Pamela. I appreciate your feedback of this hub. :)

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

      Pamela Dapples 

      6 years ago from Arizona now

      Great hub. I will be looking up the website you mention of author, Chris Van Allsbur and also I'll be looking for his book, Jumanji, to peek at on Amazon. I hadn't heard of it nor him. But I've heard 'When Christmas Comes to Town' at least 70 times in the past two years when my grandchildren sing it at home or perform it on stage. I still love it. Thank you for bringing this author to our attention.

      Voting up.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hello Rose-it's a delightful movie, if you like musicals and the sound of Tom Hanks voice. Thanks for commenting. Merry Christmas to you. :)

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 

      8 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      I haven't seen this movie but it sounds as though I should.Thank you for this review.

      Merry Christmas

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Angela-thank you for reading and sharing your experiences here with the Polar Express. I suppose you have seen it 3 D and regular. Which movie style do you prefer?

    • Angela Kane profile image

      Angela Kane 

      8 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      I watch Polar Express every year, it has been become one of my favorite Christmas movies and the animation is great.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Dianna-Thank you. Isn't that a fun scene? And even just listening to it alone, it gets your toes tapping. (I love the movie Romancing the Stone, but my all time fave romantic comedy is When Harry Met Sally).

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      8 years ago

      I love the hot chocolate dance scene in Polar Express. I also list Romancing The Stone as a classic on my list of movies. Great hub and excellent choices on the soundtrack selection.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi SandCastles-what a great idea to use your air miles for entertainment that you enjoy. Yes, the movie was splendid, wasn't it?

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      The movie was visually stunning.

      I use airmiles to buy movie tickets.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Ruchira-oh, I'm so glad you enjoyed this review. It's one of my favorite Christmas movies, too. Thanks for your comments.

      Hi Ruby-you can find it in stores in the DVD section. It's always a 'hot' item at Christmas, but I'm sure you'll be able to get a copy b/c it's been out for awhile. I know you'll enjoy it-but, let me know if you do watch it, and what you think of it. :) Thanks for your comments.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      8 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I can't believe i never saw this movie. I hope it is on a movie CD. I will make sure i see it. A great review Denise. Thank you..

    • Ruchira profile image


      8 years ago from United States

      My favorite movie, Denise.

      I loved your review.

      Awesome n interesting

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Frank, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for your feedback. :)

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      8 years ago from Shelton

      you know denise this was probably one of the most entertaining hub I read today bless you


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