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All Aboard the ’50s Flyer!

By Kelly

Did you know that there is a depot in Cedar Park that hosts various theme parties on a 1960 Alco diesel locomotive that pulls you through the Texas Hill Country?

We’re talking wine fliers, beer fliers, murder-mystery-Hollywood-’20s-starlet fliers and fliers for every holiday you can imagine.

Well this Chickster didn’t, until she spent a bedridden weekend reading the Texas Travel Guide. When I found that in the Cedar Park section, I just had to catch the next train.

Now the issue with these parties? They’re pricey. They’re usually $70+ per person because they include a meal (since they’re 3+ hours) and usually wine and beer as well. So it was a challenge to find a trip I could actually afford.

Enter the ’50s flyer. A 3-hour, $34 trip to the historic Bertram depot and back with ’50s music, snacks and ’50s clothes encouraged. I, of course, dressed like Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and brought two also-well-dressed friends with me.

The train was very vintage and interesting, the views of the hill country, when available, are pretty (though there are a lot of trees lining the tracks and it takes a bit to get out of town) and we were in a pretty descent train car (with four seats all facing each other—perfect for our 3-person party). I picked the Silver Pine with no idea which cars are better and was very happy with my choice. (One train car isn’t even air-conditioned.) But there are also adult-only table cars I’d love to try in the future. (These sell out fast. If you want them, you apparently have to get them 4+ months in advance, though I’ve also heard the website shows the train cars full way before they are so it’s better to call to check availability.)

I will say I was a little disappointed in the whole food situation on this particular flyer. All the other theme parties have food and even alcohol included (which is why they’re pricey), but on this one, I was only able to scrounge up a bag of chips, an apple and a Sprite. I foolishly came hungry thinking there would be a sizable snack or that I could buy a meal for extra if I wanted to. (All the other trains have meals, right? I thought I could buy a meal from the same kitchen. They did provide free Amy’s Ice Cream at Bertram, but I was already full on chips at that point so a heads-up would’ve been nice. There was also no alcohol for purchase on this particular train and BYOB is not allowed.) My fault for not reading more closely and expecting too much from a $34 ticket and the promise of a “provided snack.”

But I wish they had some form of disclaimer that communicated: “The only food you can buy on this train will be from a tiny concession stand that you have to walk through three train cars to get to.” But I will say they did have apples, oranges and water placed at the end of each train car for free. I guess that counts as a provided snack.

They were good, however, about announcing the availability of the bathrooms, which remain locked until a certain speed.

Overall, this is just fun, but if you’re going to do it, do it right. Pick out the exact seat you want, pick a good theme and spring for a flyer with food and booze included! It’s also not a bad idea to bring Cards Against Humanity to keep you entertained. It is a commute after all.

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