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All aboard the ’20s Murder Mystery Express

By Kelly

So after my last ride on the 1960 Alco diesel locomotive from Cedar Park Depot didn’t quite deliver (though in their defense, I shouldn’t have expected so much from a $30 ticket), I decided to spring for one of their more expensive theme parties.


So last night I did the Murder Mystery – Starstruck Express: a ’20s Hollywood Bash so I could be immersed in my favorite decade.


What you get for the price

For $85 a ticket, we got a two-person table in one of the first-class, adult-only table cars (the City of Chicago (now defunct), a boxed lunch (roast beef sandwich, fruit and a cupcake), up to 3 alcoholic beverages (choice of two types of beer and red or white wine) and the opportunity to watch a murder mystery play (with some audience participation) that traveled from car to car and was pretty well acted. There’s also a decent, but not great, view. There’s Hill Country to be seen, but mostly it’s trees lining the tracks and dilapidated buildings.


No AC in first class?

I’d say it was worth the price except for one caveat. The air conditioning in our train car didn’t seem to kick on once, though we were promised that all first-class train cars have AC. My husband and I had to wander into other first-class train cars just to cool off. (And accidentally walked through one of the train-actors scenes. Sorry!) We were told it had to do with the door to our car sliding open and not being closed all the way, so passengers of our car took turns closing the door every time one of the performers came through, but I never felt even a hint of AC, so I really don’t think that’s true. If I’m going to pay for first class, I should get it. AC in first class is non-negotiable. I’ve also heard there’s one train car on this train that doesn’t even have AC to preserve its vintage feel. I think in Texas with this ongoing 105+ summer heat, that’s just plain unhealthy for passengers. Austin Steam Train Association, you need to get with the times. Any car that doesn’t have working AC should be detached and left in the Hill Country.


Update: Sept. 9, 2018. It seems they got the memo on this one. All cars are now climate controlled!


Do it once and right

So if you’re going to do this just once (which is all I recommend), spring for one of the more expensive tickets so you can have food and alcohol and book Rippling Stream way in advance. (That’s the one I wanted originally, but it was sold out in May for August.) It’s the nicest, coolest first-class car I experienced on my train walk.

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