For quite some time we’ve been sharing updates about the Brightline train that is set to connect Orlando International Airport to Walt Disney World.
Over the past few months, we’ve taken a look at one BIG milestone the train hit, a peek at its progress from the sky, and even news about Universal plan to push for an airport train connection. Recently, we got a big update as to where the plans for this train from the airport to Disney World stand.
Previously, we shared that Brightline was considering various routes from the airport to the Disney World station. At the time, 2 main routes appeared to be under consideration. One route would piggyback on State Road 417 through Hunters Creek. The other would go along State Road 528 to International Drive.
The 417 route, which is the one Brightline prefers, has been estimated to cost $1.03 billion. The SR 528 route, on the other hand, was previously estimated to cost $2.1 billion. This SR 528 route would go along I-Drive, a massive area with tourist attractions.
In April we shared that Universal Orlando Resort, the I-Drive business chamber of commerce, and more may push for this route that goes to I-Drive. Now, we’ve got an update as to what’s going on with the potential routes Brightline has been considering.
The Central Florida Expressway Authority held a meeting on Tuesday, July 20th, 2021 about the Brightline train line. The Orlando Sentinel reports that during the meeting, the Central Florida Expressway Authority also agreed unanimously to indefinitely delay a decision as to whether to allow Brightline to build the train on the Road 417 route.
The vote reportedly came after hours of discussion. It appears that the discussion was dominated by a push from representatives of the I-Drive tourism strip and Hunter’s Creek residential community aimed at denying access of the State Road 417 route to Brightline.
If Brightline is unable to use their preferred 417 route, then they may have to consider using the State Road 528 route. One consultant hired by Universal Orlando and the International Drive merchants noted that the alternative route could cost only $294 million more than the 417 route. But, a consultant hired by the expressway authority said the route preferred by the International Drive supporters could cost $1.7 billion (i.e. about $700 million more than the 417 route) and potentially up to $2.2 billion.
John Sprouls, executive vice president and chief administrative officer for Universal Parks & Resorts, shared that they would donate 17 acres for the rail corridor at the convention center if Brightline uses the 528 route, and that they would “put [their] money and [their] resources where [their] mouth is.”
Hunter Creek Residents have been divided as to whether to allow Brightline to access 417, but the majority who spoke on Tuesday appeared to be against that option. There are various factors being brought up during these discussions including environmental concerns, noise concerns, tourism matters, and more.
Following Tuesday’s meeting, Brightline shared a Press Release about the vote that took place. In the press release Brightline notes that on July 20th, the Central Florida Expressway Authority “unanimously approved a resolution of support for Brightline’s planned expansion between Orlando International Airport and Tampa.” Brightline’s press release also shares that the Central Florida Expressway Authority Board, which is the governing body for SR 417 — Brightline’s preferred route — also “cleared the way for Brightline to study a high-speed rail alignment along this corridor.”
Christine Kefauver, Brightline’s senior vice president for corporate development, issued a statement from Brightline which states, “We’ve always found success by building a large and wide-ranging coalition of support, which was on display today…Today’s resolution of support brings us one step closer to connecting Orlando and Tampa with Brightline’s modern, eco-friendly intercity rail service.”
Note that Brightline currently operates between Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach. The company is scheduled to complete construction of their train line to Orlando International Airport by the end of 2022. Previously, the Orlando Sentinel reported that service from the airport to Disney Springs is not slated to begin until about 2026.
We’ll keep an eye out for more updates as to this situation.
Click here to see what we know about where the airport train’s Disney Springs station could be located.
Join the DFB Newsletter to get all the breaking news right in your inbox! Click here to Subscribe!
Would you consider taking the train from the airport to Disney World? Tell us in the comments.
Good, good riddance I say… the train to Disney was overflowing with logistics concerns from the start. Bye bye…
Tracey Montgomery says
I wonder if they will extend the Magical Express Service now that the train has been delayed “indefinitely?”
I really don’t care about the train. I’m still waiting to find out how my luggage and myself is getting from the airport to the resort and return for my flight home. What was Disney’s cost supplying the transportation to the resort? I don’t really expect an answer. This just puts more money in Disney pockets.
If the stop at Disney World is Disney Springs, then no, I wouldn’t use the train from the airport. I would use Mears.
I’m still adjusting to having to collect my luggage at the airport and lug it to Magical Express, or worse, to the rental car area. Having to get off the train in Disney Springs, and with my suitcase in tow, would mean I’d still need transportation to my hotel. It’s just too complicated. Especially for a large group.
If you ask me (and who is), this contraversal route decision sounds a little too political.
Yea I would. I am going to Pennsylvania for college so I won’t be an hour away anymore so when I do come home specifically if I want to go to Disney the train would be nice
I can travel alone, but need a wheelchair attendant in the airports. Gathering luggage on my own, getting it to the train and then getting onward to a Disney hotel will be a problem. How are people with disabilities going to manage getting to Disney alone? It feels like a door getting shut on us. The luggage transfer and ME Express made it manageable to travel alone. Now, I have no idea what I, or anyone else in my situation, could manage.
I agree with Gencha.
John Herman Ismey says
I just got back from Disney Mears was so good to all passages . If you had a disability they put you in front of the bus you just had to let them know and they are great . The bus driver told me that he only found out when the public found out . He had no idea I guess it was a company decision . Disney Resort s and Disney Cruise Line will be effected . It gives me a false sense of Disney caring not it will impact older and or disability persons . It was a great plus for all of us . Right know I feel like Disney sold us down the river .
I haven’t been to WDW since Epcot opened. Can someone TL;DR this whole train deal? Were going in March 2022 (after our March 2020 vacay when up in smoke). Just want to get to the resort. Obivously Magic Express seemed like the best bet, but now? Group of 8, arriving from 2 different origins at AROUND the same time. (within an hour barring delays) Should we Uber+ from the airport? go with “other”?
DFB Sarah says
Andy, you’ll want to explore your options, particularly if you’d like all eight of you to be able to travel together from MCO to WDW. Many people like using Mears, which is the company that actually operated the Magical Express buses. Others prefer a towncar (or two, perhaps, in your case). There are limo companies that operate in the area as well. You’re unlikely to find a rideshare (Uber or Lyft) that can carry all eight of you, but if you don’t mind splitting into two vehicles, that may work out for you. Check out the websites and compare things like ease of getting to your ride (i.e. are they able to pick up right at MCO?) and cost.
Thanks for the response Sarah, Wanted to say the first time I made this reservation your book was super invaluable. We had the DDP dialed in. I was so looking forward to eating WAY more than I should, but this time I think were gonna wing it. Churro’s and Poly Noods for everyone!
DFB Sarah says
Andy, that sounds like a fun plan! Sometimes the spontaneity can add a little more sense of adventure. Have a great time!
Brightline has a horrible track record in the north-south right here by me in Miami. They’re simply not getting the traffic to ever see profitability. I can’t imagine it would be any different in an Orlando to Tampa corridor.
Yeah, it’s a desired and needed service, but if it can’t make money, it’s doomed to fail. So for those flying in to enjoy an Orlando vacation, take another transportation service, because Brightline just ever going to work,
In the U.S., we’re behind the rest of the world in rail travel, but there are valid reasons why that’s the case.
Deborah P says
I have to agree that it makes absolutely no sense for Disney to discontinue the Magical Express when the train is nowhere near completion. We had already decided the train was not for us. Who wants to schlep their bags to the train, get off at Disney Springs and then find transportation to their hotel?
Todd Stutzman says
I feel that stopping the Magical Espress is more then a big mistake. With is the magic started before you left home. People were not tied up with retrieving luggage and trying to keep family/friends entertained and gathered together while they waited for luggage to arrive and then tow it along with them. I am so disappointed in Disney for doing this, and for it to be taken away that we have to pay for it and the rates still go up for everything else. I’m a big Disney fan, but I think they have gone to far this time.