* ActorAllusion: When hero kid pulls the whistle, he exclaims "I wanted to that my whole life!" So did [[Franchise/BackToTheFuture Emmet Brown]].
* AdoredByTheNetwork: Creator/ABCFamily runs this movie often during ''25 Days of Christmas''. The Disney Channel used to play this movie a lot but not anymore.
** Somewhat subverted in 2015, when ABC Family made several rather sloppy edits in order to fit more time for ads. One rather noticeable edit is the removal of the entire scene where Hero Boy meets the Hobo (an important scene that begins to shake Hero Boy of his cynicism), cutting directly to Hero Boy trying to wake himself up and the ski sequence. Another edit drastically shortens the scene in which the Polar Express arrives at the North Pole, cutting from the initial arrival to the kids noticing the elves. It's...rather jarring to those who know the movie very well.
* AuthorExistenceFailure: ''The Polar Express'' was Michael Jeter's final film role. He died during post-production and André Sogliuzzo voiced almost all of his remaining lines.
* [[IronyAsSheIsCast Irony As He Is Cast]]: Daryl Sabara, Hero Boy's voice actor, is Jewish.
* TheMerch: Lionel's ''very awesome'' Polar Express model-train set. It also comes with a replica of Santa's sleigh-bell.
** Naturally, Hallmark has a series of ornaments, including the Polar Express' engine, and, this year, the true-to-life replica of the sleigh bell.
* TheOtherDarrin: André Sogliuzzo did the voices for Smokey and Steamer except in the Caribou scene, where Steamer (the fat one) was voiced by Michael Jeter, the actor who did the motion capture for both characters. This may have been left in as a tribute to Jeter, who died during post-production.
* RecursiveAdaptation: There were several book of the film releases.
** Averted with Creator/TomHanks. He does most of the voice acting, but he doesn't voice any characters who have to talk to each other. You could almost call it "Acting With Himself", since Hanks did the motion capture for Hero Boy as well as for the conductor, hobo and Santa, just not HB's voice.
** Played straight with the Smokey the engineer and Steamer the fireman, with the exception of the aforementioned Caribou scene where Steamer's VA temporarily changes.
* WriteWhatYouKnow: The main protagonist is from Grand Rapids, Michigan, also the hometown of the book's author. In one scene, the train passes by Herpolsheimer's, which was (until the 1980s) a Grand Rapids department store that was known for its lavish Christmas displays.