The Exclusive Panoramic Park Car on VIA Rail

When travelling in the Sleeper Plus Class of VIA Rail's The Canadian, not only do you have access to the Economy Class' panoramic Skyline Car but you also have exclusive accessibility to the Park Car.

Ooh, that sounds impressive! And yes, it does. Since you have access to the two panoramic observation decks available on the train, the probability of you having a chance to sit down and enjoy the 360-degree views of your surroundings on your way across Canada increases dramatically. This is a big deal, especially in the Rockies, where it seems as though almost everyone wants to grab a seat in the scenic dome section. The seats are on a first-come, first-served basis so depending on the ambitions of your fellow travelers, you may be out of luck if your timing isn't right.  Luckily, most people come and go, especially during meal times, when there is a steady rotation of seats as people head to the Dinner Car.

To provide you a better idea of what to expect, here are a couple of photos of the observation deck of the Park Car...

and its older, non-renovated sibling that I rode on the way back...

Interestingly enough, the differences between the two Park Cars appeared to be simply cosmetic with reupholstered seats and walls, and newer finishes as opposed to one car being newer than the other from what I could gather. Based on the date stamps on the corners of the windows, both cars seemed to have windows from the same era so if you could care less about looks, they're practically the same.

Now heading downstairs, you have access to two lounges serviced by the bar.

Other than taking the photographs below, I spent no time in the Mural Lounge since it was an enclosed area with no large, exterior windows to view the great outdoors but I suppose this would be a decent place to chill and play cards or chat once darkness hits.

I never saw the television actually playing anything other than a blue screen or TV noise during the trip so I can't comment any further on its functionality but don't forget to head down to the bar upon your departure from Vancouver for a glass of champagne!

A better place to mingle would be to hang out in the Bullet Lounge where you have slightly better views despite the fact that the seats are angled towards the centre of the room.

This is also the place to grab some coffee, tea, water, juice, fruit, and the occasionally served cookie, biscuit, or muffin in between meals. Just remember, if seating is full in the upstairs dome, you can always try your luck closer to the front of the train at the Skyline Car.

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