Magic Tickets are 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 an oval 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 pockets or hands sometime after they get on the train as shown when Hero Boy takes his ticket out of his pocket, which was not there before.
For the outward journey, the Conductor punches two letters in each of the passengers' ticket, which later become part of an entire word that appears on the ticket for the return journey. Each word represents a message that the child has learned during their journey. Hero Boy gets a B on the left end of his ticket and an E on the right end. Know-It-All gets "LE" on the left end of his ticket while Billy's initially reads "ON" on the right end.
Later, while Hero Girl and the Conductor go to give some hot chocolate to Billy, Hero Boy finds her ticket left on her seat, unpunched, so he goes to try to return it, but the wind blows it out of his hand while trying to switch to the observation car. It eventually gets stuck on a window, so Hero Boy opens the window to try to get it, but that causes it to get free and blow away again. It soon lands on the ground in the woods, but is blown another time after a pack of wolves run past. It falls downward towards a river, but an eagle catches it and attempts to feed it to its baby, but the baby spits it out. While in the baby eagle's mouth, it has formed into a crumpled ball which lands in the snow and rolls down a hill, forming a large snowball. The snowball hits a rock, causing the ticket to flatten again and land on the tracks in front of a tunnel. Suddenly, the train passes by and the ticket gets blown underneath. It eventually gets back into the passenger car and gets stuck on the air vent.
At that moment, the Conductor realizes he forgot to punch Hero Girl's ticket, so he goes over to punch it, but she cannot find it. Hero Boy admits to have been 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, goes to pull the emergency brake, but stops when he finds Hero Girl's ticket stuck in the air vent, so he grabs it and goes after Hero Girl and the Conductor. On the train's roof, he meets a Hobo, who suggests he keeps the ticket in his slipper, which he does, then helps him get to the front of the locomotive before they reach Flat Top Tunnel.
While the train is trying to get off of the Ice Lake, the wind blows the ticket out of Hero Boy's slipper and he and Hero Girl try to and successfully catch it. The train soon gets back on the tracks and Hero Girl thanks Hero Boy for finding her ticket. The Conductor overhears and punches Hero Girl's ticket, resulting in the letters, "LE," the same thing Know-It-All got.
The Conductor later punches all the children's tickets again before the return trip. He punches "ARN" in Know-It-All's ticket, resulting in "LEARN," though he initially reads it as "LEAN" due to one of his fingers covering the R. Billy's ticket becomes "DEPEND ON", but it changes to "RELY ON" and "COUNT ON" after each time he flips it. The Conductor remarks that, "That is some special ticket." He adds "AD" to Hero Girl's ticket to get "LEAD", like in "leadership", though she initially pronounces it as the metal. Finally, he punches Hero Boy's ticket, this time, behind his back. The resulting word is "BELIEVE", though the Conductor interrupts before he can read it out loud, claiming he does not need to know what it says.
- 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 some occasions in which the Conductor punches words out of them.