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“No Santa Express, extremely poor management.”
Review of Columbia Star Dinner Train - CLOSED

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Columbia Star Dinner Train
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Reviewed 11 December 2014

We booked tickets in august for the Santa Express as a surprise for our son (he loves trains). We scheduled for the 14th of Dec, a week before his birthday on the 21st. After booking our tickets, we called again in November to ensure that we had every thing squared away only to find out that we had never been booked for the Santa Express. Since they were now fully booked for the 14th for the Santa Express, we were forced to get tickets for the 21st our son's birthday which was already planned out. Now, 10 days before the 21st we received an email, stating that the Columbia Star Dinner Train would be cancelling all Santa Express trains from the 21st to the 23rd. I'm sure our son would of had a great time, but due to extremely poor management he won't get the chance. We will never again book tickets on the Columbia Star Dinner Train.

6  Thank Duane W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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3 - 7 of 47 reviews

Reviewed 20 October 2014

A group of 6 couples went of the Saturday dinner train in August. While the train experience was fine, except for the fact that we were the last to be served and there was only medium well done prime rib after ordering medium rare and there was little to brag about on the scenery.. However, we all paid our tabs on the train, including the train, dinner and beverages. Subsequently, I was charged the base fare for all twelve people. After two months, I was unable to get a refund through the train ownership, even dealing directly with the President and CEO. The train experience is okay, but the ownership leaves much to be desired.

1  Thank Rod G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 October 2014

We went on the Sunday dinner train in the fall (1-3 PM) in order to see the fall colors. It was $60 apiece (drinks were extra) for the two hour excursion. We both ordered chicken. I brought my computer bag on board because we were traveling and I was not certain how secure the parking lot was, so I did not want to leave the computer in the car. We were excited by the opportunity to see the Missouri countryside.

It went downhill from there.

First of all, there was plenty of room on the train (several empty tables), but we were seated at a table with two other people. My wife and I were looking for some time to catch up on this trip, but instead we had to make conversation with two people we did not know for two hours. They were very nice (and were, in fact, about the only pleasant thing about the experience), but this detracted from the intent we had coming in, which was to spend some time talking to one another on an allegedly romantic dinner train. That prospect was dashed from the outset by the seating arrangements. There was, I should note, no option to be seated otherwise; seats were assigned. So if you want to know who you are sitting with, bring four people.

The train ride itself was nothing special--a straight-line ride out among trailer parks and low-rent subdivisions with collapsing above-ground pools and clusters of satellite dishes on their roofs (who needs seven separate satellite dishes on one building?). We saw a lot of weeds, a couple of horses and two dogs chained up in front of a double wide. That was it for the wildlife. The train went out at a jogger's pace, then reversed course and went back in the same direction as we finished our meal. My backyard has better scenery.

The food was mediocre. My chicken was undercooked (it was pink), but I did not want to make a scene, so I just picked at the edges trying to eat the parts that were better cooked. BIG mistake. I spent the evening and most of the next morning . . . well, let's just say that food poisoning isn't fun (and I'm a gastroenterologist, so I know what I'm talking about here).

On top of all of this, my computer bag was placed in a closet for the duration of the trip. When I got it out, there were other passenger items placed on top of it. I soon discovered that there had been some sort of impact to the computer that resulted in irreparable to the computer screen that was not covered by warranty (the computer was only 6 months old). Repair cost: $800. So this picturesque excursion into a trailer park cost me a total of about $1000--and a night's vacation.

Perhaps some of the other dinner train excursions are more entertaining. Perhaps the food is not always toxic. Perhaps the scenery is not usually the distilled essence of rural squalor. But to say this trip was a disappointment would be an understatement. We would not repeat this experience.

5  Thank Heeldawg1962
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 July 2014

My husband took me here for my birthday surprise because he knew I loved trains. So, I was super excited. They had a coffee mug filled with after-dinner mints with 2 balloons tied to them. We got seated next to another couple and that felt awkward. I'm not anti-social or anything but it was supposed to be our special time together and while we did have some good conversation with that other couple, I kept wishing we had a table to ourselves.
The dinner was excellent. Appetizer was a duck pastry and salad was really good. Prime rib was just amazing and the raspberry chocolate dessert at the end was incredible. I will say the portions of the appetizer and salad, I felt were perfect. I can see others thinking it was small, but I was happy with them. Prime rib was HUGE. I needed a to-go box and I wish the dinner portion was appropriate also. I normally am not a chocolate dessert type person but that dessert was amazing.
And they brought a birthday cake for me also which was a nice touch.
The window you are seated at makes a difference because if the sun sets right in your eyes, it gets quite hot and uncomfortable.
The fun parts of the experience is actually being on a train and waving at people in their homes, cars and neighborhoods. I thought 22 mph as the maximum speed was too slow.
Service was alright. Not exceptional. I had asked for tea and it took a while before they could bring my drink.
In general, it was a great experience...

3  Thank Deskcalendar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 28 April 2014

The food was good, as were the drinks. It was a bit awkward sitting with a couple we didn't know, but it was consistent with the theme of pre-WWII train travel. After the initial awkwardness of introductions passed, we actually had a good time with the couple sharing the table with us. I could see how this could be an issue. On this particular trip, we only filled one of the four diner cars on the train, so I dont really see why we had to sit so close. The train travels so slowly on the way out that meal service isn't a problem at all. It only takes half as long to return, and there still isn't much jostling. The Prime Rib and Trout were great choices and that is the same thing the other couple ordered as well so I can't tell you about much else on the menu. Its a little pricey for forced company, but the ambiance is good and the wait staff is super.

4  Thank Brybatson
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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