Thursday, November 20, 2014

Wonderland Express Returns to Chicago Botanic Garden


**Disclosure: We did receive complimentary admission to Wonderland Express in order to make an accurate review and bring this information to you. No compensation was received. All opinions are 100% my own.

The magical Wonderland Express will be returning to the Chicago Botanic Garden next week on November 28. What a wonderful way to cap off your Thanksgiving weekend! Plus, greenery--in Chicago--in the winter--I am sold!


A visit to the Wonderland Express is a family tradition for many. The garden scale train travels through many landscapes past iconic structures that will have you eagerly looking for the next depiction. The lights and foliage contribute to the jovial holiday feel. Of course, nothing is more magical than snow falling on you inside while surveying a mini replica of Chicago. Holiday heaven!

It may seem a bit counterintuitive, but a visit to the Chicago Botanic Garden is truly welcome excursion during the winter. Greenhouses provide much needed warmth and cheerful greenery during cold winters! Fortunately, there are three to amble through---the Tropical, Semitropical and the Arid. A nice respite in another climate to cure winter blues!


Of course, the visit is even more enjoyable when the Wonderland Express is active. Last year was our first visit to the Wonderland Express and we were entirely impressed by all of the Chicago landmarks in "mini." My daughter did have quite a time picking out and identifying landmarks. The detail is amazing and the precision to which the railroad is put together is a sight to behold! The mini conifers are adorable and the itty bitty Chicago Botanic Garden looks amazingly like the real one!

There is also a little cafe and gift shop associated with the Wonderland Express. A great spot for hot cocoa! Last year, we also benefited from a fun scavenger hunt and crafts! A great family memory!


Wonderland Express Details:
Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for children ages 3 to 12 and seniors ages 62 and older. Children 2 and under are free. Members receive $2 off each ticket. Prices are half price on Tuesdays. The tickets are timed to maximize the viewing experience. Parking for nonmembers is $25 per car.
The exhibition runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from November 28, 2014, to January 4, 2015. A special Members-Only Night will take place from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, December 17. (Regular ticket fees apply.) Wonderland Express will be closed all day December 25, and will close at 3 p.m. on December 4 and 24, and at 1 p.m. on December 12. The early closings do not apply to the Garden grounds, which will remain open until 6 p.m.
A Special Deal:
There is also a special Winter Family Fun Pack for $50 that includes parking and tickets for a family up to five. The pack is valid any day except Tuesday. For more information, check the Chicago Botanic Garden website.

Other Family Holiday Events at Chicago Botanic Garden Include:

  • Ice Sculpting--Ice Sculpting will take place December 13 & 27 at 11AM and 2PM in the courtyards of the Regenstein Center, free event, parking for nonmembers is $25 per car
  • Christmas Concert – 2 and 4 p.m. on Saturday, December 20, in Alsdorf Auditorium. Get into the holiday spirit with a Christmas Concert featuring festive holiday favorites. Advance tickets are $17; Same-day tickets are $20. Children 2 and under are free. Members receive $2 off each ticket. The price includes access to the Wonderland Express exhibition.
  • Hanukkah Concert – 11 a.m. or 1 p.m. on Sunday, December 21, in Alsdorf Auditorium.  Enjoy a lively performance from the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band. Advance tickets are $17; same-day tickets are $20. Children 2 and under are free. Members receive $2 off each ticket. The price includes access to the Wonderland Express exhibition.
  • Hot Chocolate with Mrs. Claus – 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Monday, December 22, in Burnstein Hall. Enjoy hot chocolate, cookies and a favorite Christmas story read by Mrs. Claus. Advance tickets are $17; Same-day tickets are $20. Children 2 and under are free. Members receive two dollars off each ticket. Price includes access to the Wonderland Express exhibition.
The Chicago Botanic Garden is located at 1000 Lake Cook Road in Glencoe.
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