Bye, bye, traffic? It’s been a dream to have a train to Disney World since Nemo was a minnow. Ok, maybe not a train, but at a minimum, a direct route from the Orlando International Airport to Disney World. On November 23, 2020, we took our first steps in seeing a train to Disney World becoming a reality when Brightline announced a Disney Springs train station. It’s not the first time we’ve had an announcement like this, so it raises the question, could it finally happen? Could we say a final goodbye to I-4 traffic? Grab your conductor hat, we got a train to catch!
A direct route from Orlando International Airport to Disney World is a dream that stems back to Walt. Walt’s original vision had a monorail line running from the airport to the Ticket and Transportation Center. Development never happened due to a variety of reasons that ranged from costs to politics, however, there are other ways to travel beyond a monorail. LIke a train at Disney World.
For years, the city of Orlando has been looking to develop infrastructure for a public transportation system. One that goes beyond buses. At one point, plans were announced of a light-rail that would go from Orlando to Disney World, with a variety of stops along the way. One of the stops would have been Sea World and the airport. Plans were even approved by the city. However, the ground never broke on the project, as the state of Florida never received the necessary funding from the federal government.
Fast forward to today. In lieu of a train to Disney World, Disney created the Magical Express in 2005. In a partnership with Mears bus service, the service provides free, direct transportation to and from the Orlando International Airport for guests staying at a Disney resort. Now, how we get to Disney World from the airport could be changing.
Who are they? In November of 2019 when news first broke of a high-speed train system connecting south and central Florida (and Disney World) broke, the headline said, Virgin was leading the charge. Not, Brightline. However, Brightline was the company heading up the US operations and the project, as they licensed the Virgin brand. Less than a year later, the companies have parted ways, and Brightline has taken center-stage as the brand behind the Florida high-speed train system.
The Miami-based company is a privately funded business. They are working on two major projects, a Los Angeles to Las Vegas route and the Miami to Orlando route.
It’s part of phase two. That’s right, the small print around a train to Disney World is phase two. The initial plan calls for the Brightline rail system to run from the Port of Miami to the Orlando International Airport, with five stops in total. Slated to finish in late 2022, the $2.7 billion dollar project is already underway, and the laying of the 170-mile track between West Palm Beach and Orlando International Airport has started.
Assuming everything with the initial phase of the project is a success, the second phase includes the expansion of the railway to Tampa, Florida with a stop at Disney Springs. The proposed Disney Springs station would be a multiple-level facility with a ground-level lobby and the train platform on the second level. No details were released on a potential location of the station.
Work on connecting Orlando International Airport to Disney Springs more than likely would not begin until 2023 at the earliest. This assumes Brightline receives the necessary government approvals to lay the track. What those approvals would be is unknown at this time. It should be noted that Jeff Vahle, president of Walt Disney World Resort, used the words “potential train station at Disney Springs”.
The first step of many. Bringing a train to Disney World would be amazing. Based on the average speed of travel you could get from the airport to Disney Springs in just under 13 minutes. Right now, it usually takes about 30 to 45 minutes on the Magical Express. Additionally, a railway connecting Disney World to the Port of Miami would make connecting a Disney Cruise (originating in Miami) to a Disney World trip even easier.
However, we will believe it when we see it. With no concept art, location, project start date, and relying on government approvals, there will be a lot of hurdles for this project. This will definitely be a project to keep a close eye on. Alright, the time has come to take-off our conductor hats, as this article is arriving at its station!
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