We wrote about Brightline, the train that currently connects Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Best, not that long ago, when the train company was in discussions to expand their service to Orlando International Airport and potentially Walt Disney World (WDW). At the time, we mused about the possibility of a train bringing Disney guests from MCO to WDW instead of Disney’s Magical Express, which is a fleet of buses they currently use to shuttle guests, for free, to and from the airport.
Welp, it looks like this has become one step closer to reality…
Two things happened the other day…
As per WSVN (Miami), Brightline has been re-branded into Virgin Trains USA. The unveiling took place at the Miami Central Station (soon to be officially renamed Virgin MiamiCentral) where Virgin’s founder, Sir Richard Branson, and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez celebrated the new hub.
And if that wasn’t enough, the Orlando Sentinel reported afternoon that the newly named Virgin Trains USA is now slated run up from South Florida to stop at Orlando International Airport (a train station has recently been built at its also-being-built Terminal C), an already-established commuter rail station (the SunRail station at Meadow Woods) that’s a few miles west of MCO and just north of the Greeneway/Rt 417 (currently a major highway link between MCO and WDW), and Walt Disney World.
The plan is for the 30-to-36 months of construction to start “imminently,” with the ultimate goal of the all the tracks and stations being done at the same time. Virgin Trains president Patrick Goddard suggested that the time frame hinges on permits and financing.
As per Goddard, Virgin Trains signed a letter of intent with Disney last year. “We’ve had an excellent relationship with Walt Disney World,” Goddard said. “They are big supporters of our project.” Virgin Atlantic airline currently has an area at Disney Springs (WDW’s shopping and dining area) for its Virgin Holiday passengers to check in for their flights and drop off their luggage prior to their departure that evening.
As per the Sentinel, “…the company also is pursuing a link to Tampa, with construction possibly starting while the tracks from West Palm Beach to Orlando are still under construction.”
What can I say? Train travel between WDW, central Florida’s local commuter rail, MCO, and Miami/Fort Lauderdale/West Palm and potentially Tampa would open all sorts of doors in terms of transportation into, out of, through and within Central Florida. And I even more seriously think it could potentially bring a change from Disney’s Magical Express to using the train to bring guests from MCO to and from WDW, if Disney considers it to be more lucrative than the deal they currently have with Mears Motor Coach, who runs the buses for Disney.
Time will tell.
What do you think?
*** Thank-you to Mikal C. for the heads up about WSVN’s coverage in Miami and updated info on MCO’s train station!
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary