Brightline Plans Orlando Expansion – A New Rail Option for Disney World Travelers
For many, the logistics of getting to and from Disney World holds the same importance as how they will get around once there. And one factor often drives the other. Alas, there is much to consider. “I don’t want to drive to Disney, but I want a car there.” “I like to fly to Disney World, but I don’t like being stuck there.” “Is a rental car more trouble than it’s worth?” “Why pay for a rental car and parking if I’m just going to be at Disney World the whole time?” The questions seemingly never end. Let’s dive into the Brightline plans for Orlando expansion and how it could positively impact Disney World (and other Florida) travelers.
The Orlando Plan
Brightline operates trains between Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach, although service is currently suspended due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, Brightline is continuing its expansion to Orlando, planning to open its “South Terminal” at Orlando International Airport (MCO) in 2022. Future expansion plans also call for Disney Springs and Tampa stations. The below map reflects the upcoming plans:
Brightline Service and Amenities
The American-made trains offer two classes of service: SMART, considered their business class option, and SELECT, a first class experience with all-inclusive amenities. Free wi-fi is available onboard, plus each seat is equipped with multiple power and USB outlets. Here’s a summary of the different classes:
My Initial Thoughts
First and foremost, I see Brightline and its ongoing expansion as a significant “See Florida” option. It enhances a vacation with increased transit options for those wanting to experience Disney World and see other parts of Florida. But in and of itself, I don’t think it delivers any substantial value-added for those with plans solely focused on Orlando and Disney World. Indeed, Disney World has a streamlined transportation experience from MCO airport to Disney resorts via Disney’s Magical Express. We had an excellent experience on the Express during our trip last January and plan to use it again.
How useful Brightline can be to you truly depends on your travel goals and style. If you are looking to see a variety of sights and locations in Florida along their line, Brightline seems like an easy win. As a fan of trains, I’d love to take a ride on the fully-expanded version with a few stops along the way. For us, a big, family trip to Disney World is enough, though; we’re not looking to tack on more Florida travel in the same trip. But I’m sure many are and will be. Brightline will deliver for you! In general, I’m happy to see modern train expansion in the US, regardless of where it’s happening.
Another “Train to Disney” Option
We have experienced train travel with a Disney trip back in 2017. We enjoyed Amtrak’s Auto Train, which operates non-stop between Lorton, VA (just south of Washington, DC) and Sanford, FL just outside of Orlando. As the name suggests, your car loads at either location, travels with you on the train, and is available for use on the other end. In essence, your car is a big suitcase on this Amtrak route. Sleeper car service on the Auto Train is comparable to other long-haul Amtrak routes. The views aren’t as amazing as other Amtrak routes (like the California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, or Empire Builder), but there’s still plenty of scenery. The Auto Train fit our travel style perfectly.
Brightline Plans Orlando Expansion – Conclusion
I was happy to hear about Brightline’s expansion plans to Orlando and beyond. While experiencing the upcoming route isn’t a priority for me, I’d like to experience it eventually. As I’ve said on multiple different topics, it’s always nice to have more options. And in the US, which has relatively limited train options, I’m particularly happy to see some modern expansion. What do you think of Brightline’s announcement?