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.
Author Existence Failure: 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.
Defictionalization: You can actually ride the Polar Express yourself during the holiday season. Patrons are served hot chocolate and fresh cookies, chefs will occasionally dance down the aisles in a recreation of the "Hot Chocolate" number, every child that boards the train is given a sleigh bell as a gift, and you can even meet the Conductor, the Hobo, and Santa himself during the ride.
The Merch: 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.
The Other Darrin: 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.
Averted with Tom Hanks. 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.
Write What You Know: 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.