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“North Pole Flyer Review”
Review of Hill Country Flyer

Hill Country Flyer
Ranked #130 of 286 things to do in Austin
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Attraction details
Owner description: Weekly train ride that tours on a 33-mile journey through Texas' Hill Country.
Reviewed 26 November 2017 via mobile

This was our first experience on the Hill Country Flyer departing from Whitestone Blvd Station in Austin Tx on a round robin to Bertram with no debarkation. We rode on a Sunday morning at 0830. We arrived at 8am and picked up our tickets from the office, then stood in line for nearly 30 minutes with the rest of the passengers waiting to board the train. At about 0825 the train finally pulled up into the yard, it was very loud and fun to see! My husband and I have traveled by train throughout Europe, so we were curious how this would compare. We decided to book last minute so the only tickets remaining were in the coach Buckeye Trail car, we paid $50 for ourselves and two lap children which were free under age three. $100 for a 2 hour trip with a 2 yr old and 7 mo old.

The North Pole Flyer excursion advertised the following attractions; Santa, Mrs.Clause, hot cocoa, a cookie, and an elf reading a story. I read another review that claimed to lack the themed attractions however I’m very pleased to say we had a great experience and loved all the entertainment! The coach was also decorated with a simple garland, strung above the luggage rack and a few wrapped gifts stowed above. I noticed upon entering the coach that some seats had little candy canes set upon them, ours did not, we didn’t ask for any however.

The coach seats were comfortable, when you hear coach one usually doesn’t envision comfort, however there was plenty of leg room, and a place to store belongings underneath the seat. The seats had arm rests and seamed to recline. No tray tables or cup holders, which would have been nice, ask me how one holds a lap child and a hot cocoa :/

The little things made this experience so fun, Climbing up the train from the platform, the natural sway along the tracks, hearing the whistle blow as we passed vehicle crossings, waving at stopped cars, going over the little stream, and when the conductor came by to punch our tickets. I love that the tickets were actually printed and traditional, with the way the world is going virtual it’s nice to hold onto a few mementos.

The Christmas theme was adorable, all the advertised attractions played the part ;) I was very impressed by the Santa and mrs clause, they were authentic looking and friendly, we even had time to take pictures with Santa. He handed out large wooden train whistles to the children, so fun! There was also an elf who led a sing along and a balloon animal artist, he told jokes and interacted with the passengers, he made an animal for every kid, wow! They came through with crayons and a coloring sheet next.

The bathroom was in working order and had a regular throne and ample toilet paper, there was also a sink with soap and paper towels. I would say it’s better than a coach airplane ride by a landslide.

From a security stand point, I was very surprised that they didn’t check anyone’s bags, these days I think that’s becoming the norm and I felt a little paranoid since they didn’t have any security personnel present.

Other reviews have mentioned the dismal scenery, I don’t have much to add....but we didn’t expect any sprawling vistas, this isn’t the Black Forest after all.

We found the trip relaxing and fun for the kids, it was the perfect length, any longer with two kids would have been challenging. We noticed many passengers showed up in pajamas, adults too. The Christmas spirit was definitely present! We liked this more than other Christmas themed family events we’ve tried like the children’s theatre or sea worlds Christmas, a great family activity!

Date of experience: November 2017
Thank Aviatrx
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviews (31)
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5 - 9 of 31 reviews

Reviewed 23 September 2017

We did the Octoberfest themed evening trip, and it was fun! It was an evening trip started when there was still some light so you could see scenery on the way out of town, and then got dark. Not a big deal though because the entertainment and food on the train was super.

Unless you have kids, I would only recommend one of these "theme" nights that offer food and adult beverages. Also, book early so you can get in one the the "first class lounge cars" those are the ones with tables and chairs vs. just rows of chairs.

The food on this themed trip was great, they had musicians roaming the cars and all the volunteers that run the operation were really friendly. It was really cool talking to the knowledgeable staff and roaming through the various old train cars which each was very different. Overall a really fun night!

Date of experience: September 2017
1  Thank Ron H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 September 2017

Bad experience with this poorly run so called business. Do not waste your time or money on this experience. We had to reschedule because of illness on a Saturday morning excursion and called in on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday to reschedule since there is a 72 hour cancel notice. What they do not not do is answer the telephone and the phone prompts are a joke and waste of time! The phone recording says the office is only open Tuesday through Friday from 10AM to 3PM. How are you supposed to reschedule within 72 hours. I talked to their phone rep and he escalated to their management but they denied my request. Lost all my money and wasted my time.

Date of experience: September 2017
2  Thank Rockhound66
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 May 2017 via mobile

I had been wanting to ride the train for awhile. My mom's 79th birthday and my 48th was coming up so I thought this would be a great adventure for my parents and me. While the idea of the train was fun it was pretty unimpressive. The train itself was neat. The scenery in April was disappointing. I envisioned field of wild flowers but what we saw was brush mostly and streets. When we got to Burnet there were a few restaurants open. We had a nice lunch at the Trailblazer Grille. There was one boutique, a jeweler, and two antique stores open. We walked around to kill time but really nothing to see or do. We watched the gun fight. It was cheesy but something to do. We boarded the train for the ride back and the air conditioning was broken. It was a long ride back in 90 degree weather with no a/c. Good in theory. Not so exciting in real life.

Date of experience: May 2017
2  Thank JacquelineL1356
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 6 March 2016

Recommended for (1) train buffs (2) adults and to a lesser extent (3) families with small children. Hill Country is two hours ride to Burnet, which is what we did. There is a one hour which stops at Bertram. A variety of about approximately 8 or 9 passenger cars to choose from and a variety of prices. We choose the most expensive, the "Rippling Stream" a carefully restored lounge car made by Budd in 1949. Snack foods, coffee, water and soft drinks available. Very friendly staff. Two layover at Burnet, Texas. Trailblazer restaurant available on city square and other restaurants and shops a two block from the station. Relaxing.

Date of experience: March 2016
2  Thank riverwalk1503
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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