Magic Tickets are magical shiny golden tickets which all the children need to have in order travel on the Polar Express. On one side is a picture of the train coming out of a tunnel while the other side reads "Round Trip" in the center with the words "The Polar Express" in cursive above and a picture of a silver bell underneath. They seem to magically appear in the children's possession sometime after they get on the train.
Role in the Film
For the outward journey, the Conductor punches two letters in each of the children's tickets, which later become part of an entire word that appears on the ticket for the return journey. The word represents a message that the child has learned during the trip. Hero Boy gets a B on the left end of his ticket and an E on the right end. Know-It-All and Hero Girl get "LE" on the left end of their tickets, while Billy's initially reads "ON" on the right end.
The Conductor comes around to punch everyone's tickets right after the train passes by Herpolsheimer's. He first comes to Hero Boy, who looks confused, so he suggests he checks his pocket. Hero Boy reaches into his right pocket, which only has a hole, so the Conductor suggests the other one, and sure enough, a ticket is found in there, much to Hero Boy's surprise. He hands his ticket to the Conductor, who punches it. After Know-It-All gets his ticket punched, he goes over to Hero Boy to show him his ticket. He claims the Conductor likes to show off the way he punches tickets and questions what his "LE" mean.
Later, when Hero Girl goes with the Conductor to give some hot chocolate to Billy, Hero Boy finds her ticket left on her seat, not punched, so he tries to return it, but the wind blows it away while he tries to switch to the observation car. It gets stuck on a window, so Hero Boy opens the window to retrieve it, but that frees it and causes it to blow away again. It lands on the ground in the woods, but is blown away another time after a pack of wolves run past. As it falls towards a river, an eagle catches it and attempts to feed it to its baby, but the baby spits it out. Having formed into a crumpled ball, when it lands in the snow and rolls down a hill, it forms into a large snowball. The snowball hits a rock, causing the ticket to flatten again and land on the tracks in front of a tunnel. The train passes by and the ticket gets blown underneath. It flies back into the passenger car and sticks onto the air vent.
At that moment, the Conductor realizes he forgot to punch Hero Girl's ticket and goes over to do so, but Hero Girl cannot find it. Hero Boy admits to be at fault for the incident and tries transferring his ticket to her, but the Conductor tells him that the tickets are not transferable and take Hero Girl to the back of the train, onto the train's roof and to the cab of the locomotive. Hero Boy, after being told by Know-It-All that she might get thrown off the train, is about to pull the emergency brake when he finds the ticket on the air vent, so he grabs it and goes after Hero Girl and the Conductor. On the train's roof, he meets a mysterious Hobo, who suggests he keeps the ticket in his slipper, which he does, then helps him get to the front of the locomotive before reaching Flat Top Tunnel.
While the train is making its way off the Ice Lake, the wind blows the ticket out of Hero Boy's slipper, but he and Hero Girl catch it. The train gets back on the tracks and Hero Girl thanks Hero Boy for finding her ticket. The Conductor overhears and punches Hero Girl's ticket with the letters "LE", the same as Know-It-All.
The Conductor punches all the children's tickets again for the return trip. He adds "ARN" to Know-It-All's ticket, resulting in "LEARN", though he initially reads it as "LEAN" due to one of his fingers covering the R until the conductor told him that he punched five letters into it. Billy's ticket becomes "DEPEND ON", but it magically changes to "RELY ON" and "COUNT ON" with each time he flips it over. The Conductor remarks, "That is some special ticket." He punches "AD" on Hero Girl's ticket to create "LEAD", which she initially pronounces as the metal until the Conductor explains that it is like in "leadership". Finally, he punches "ELIV" out of Hero Boy's ticket, this time, behind his back. The resulting word is "BELIEVE", though the Conductor interrupts him before he can read it out loud, claiming he does not need to know what it says. Hero Boy boards the train and his ticket disappears just as he puts it back in his pocket.
- The magic tickets do not appear in the book, nor are they mentioned or play a significant role.
- All of the tickets which appear in the film have a different number on them. Hero Boy's has 0001225, Hero Girl's has 0122500, Know-It-All's has 0012250 and Billy's has 1225000. Each one is seven digits long and has "1225" in it with zeroes filling in the remaining three places. 1225 is the date of Christmas, 12/25, as well as the number of the Pere Marquette steam locomotive which the Polar Express locomotive is based off of.
- In one of the trailers for the film, Hero Boy's ticket magically appears in his hand just as he is taking it out of his pocket.
- On some railroads, the tickets for The Polar Express Train Ride resemble the tickets in the film. There are a few occasions in which the Conductor punches words out of them.