If you’ve been to Disney World in the last 15 years or so, you probably know all about Disney’s Magical Express.
This magical transportation service previously transported guests from the Orlando International Airport to their Disney World hotel. Unfortunately, Magical Express was discontinued at the beginning of 2022, leaving guests in a bit of a lurch when it comes to getting to Disney World. But the good news is that there are plans for a high-speed train to connect the airport to Disney World. So what do we know about this new transportation so far? Let’s take a look!
Disney’s Magical Express was discontinued on January 1, 2022. Now, guests can use a ride share service, rent a car, or use the Mears Connect or Sunshine Flyer services. BUT in a few years there will be another option — a Brightline train connecting the Orlando Airport to Disney World.
We first heard of this in 2019, back when it was just an idea between the Brightline and Disney World executives. Now the idea has been put into action, and Disney World set to get a stop on the route of a high-speed train. But we’ve still got a few questions. Like, how much will this train cost? Where will it stop? When will it be finished? We’re going to take a look at all those questions and more.
What Exactly Is a Brightline Train?
Brightline is a train company that has trains in both Florida and California. The trains in Florida currently run to Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach.
Brightline had plans to run a route from the Orlando International Airport to Tampa, and Disney World is located on that route, so it made sense to look into a stop there.
According to Railway Technology, Brightline trains run at maximum speeds of 200 km/hr, which is about 125 miles per hour.
How Much Will It Cost?
We haven’t heard any news on the cost of a Brightline train ride from the airport to Disney World. The closest thing we have to compare it to is the cost of a Brightline ticket from Miami to Fort Lauderdale — the shortest route in Florida right now at about 30 miles. Brightline ticket costs vary depending on factors like the demand on certain days and times, but the lowest cost ticket on that route appears to be priced at $17.
Ride shares from the airport to Disney World cost from $30 to more than $60 right now, and renting a car has been getting more and more expensive as well. But keep in mind that Brightline tickets are sold per person currently, and, of course, you can put your whole family in one rideshare or rental car and not pay extra.
However, neither Brightline nor Disney has said anything about the actual prices. Brightline does run specials like “kids ride free with a parent,” and they sell multipacks of tickets at a discount. But it’s also possible that high demand will drive ticket prices up, resulting in a more expensive train ride that what we predicted. We will continue to update you as we learn more information on pricing.
Will People Really Use It?
Since the Brightline train would be new to Disney World and rideshares are so popular right now, we were wondering whether people would even use the train. So we asked our readers! More than 10,000 people responded to our poll, and most of them said they would use the train.
88% of the people who responded said they were likely to use the Brightline train when it began service to Disney World. Especially if it’s free, why not take advantage of some fast transportation? But we’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments — will you be using the Brightline train?
Where is the Stop Going to Be?
This is an important question — the airport transportation buses, Mears Connect and Sunshine Flyer, take guests directly to their hotels in Disney World. Clearly, a train can’t wind its way to every Disney World hotel and stop in front of the entrance. So once you board this new train, where will it be taking you?
Brightline has said that the Disney World stop will be near Disney Springs, the shopping center located inside Disney World. In later announcements, Brightline revealed that they were looking at a few different possible locations for the route and stop, including possibly the Orange Parking Garage in Disney Springs, or some undeveloped land nearby.
The area shaded orange on the map below shows where Brightline is looking for the best location for the train stop.
Wherever it ends up in that area, we know the stop will be near Disney Springs. Once you get to that stop, what happens then?
How Do You Get to Your Hotel From the Stop?
We’ve been wondering that too! Once you’ve arrived at the stop, you’ll be at a train station near Disney Springs somewhere, stranded with all your luggage. We’re pretty sure that Disney won’t actually leave guests stranded, though, which means there will need to be another form of transportation available to get you to your hotel.
Disney hasn’t said what that will be exactly, but we have a few guesses. There are already buses from Disney Springs to Disney World hotels — maybe guests can use these to get back? It doesn’t seem likely that guests will use the same buses as other guests going to and from the Springs, since getting your luggage to that bus stop and then holding it once you board the bus would be a pain. Plus, luggage isn’t actually allowed on Disney World buses, so this option won’t really work without some serious modifications.
Possibly there will be another charter-type service that picks up guests and their luggage and stops at various hotels on a route.
Maybe Minnie Vans (Disney’s rideshare service) will return to be available to bring guests back to their hotels. These vans are driven by Cast Members, and the system is powered by Lyft. The Minnie Vans are not currently running, since they were closed for the pandemic and haven’t yet reopened.
But before they closed, the vans charged $15 flat plus $2.75 per mile, which was often times more expensive even than normal Lyft rides. For example, Disney’s Contemporary Resort is 6.4 miles away from Disney Springs, which means a Minnie Van ride to that hotel would cost $32.60. That’s only if the rates stay the same as they were before closing in 2020.
Other rideshare options are also available, and those typically cost anywhere from $12 (the cheapest option) to $60 to get from Disney Springs to the Contemporary.
We’re sure that Disney has looked into the issue of getting guests from the train station to their hotels, and we’ll let you know as soon as we hear what their solution is.
When Will the Train to Disney World Be Available?
This is probably the biggest question that we’re all wondering — when can we actually use this train? We’ve got some bad news here: it’s going to be a while. Construction on the tracks connecting Disney World to the Orlando Airport hasn’t even started yet. Brightline has said that construction on that segment is supposed to begin in the first quarter of 2024 and finish sometime in the year 2026. Originally the train was supposed to be finished by 2023, but delays have pushed that goal back quite a bit.
Why is the train taking so long? Besides the normal delays in construction and the added problems that the pandemic has brought on, there has been some indecision about the actual route of the train. Brightline is considering two possible routes right now: one near State Road 417 and another near State Road 528.
The one near 528 would be a lot more expensive (we’re talking billions of dollars here), but it would run through an area with more tourist attractions. Developers are hoping for more stops in these tourist areas, so they’re advocating for the 528 option. In addition, the 528 route would allow Brightline to have a stop at Universal Orlando, so Universal is pushing for that as well. In fact, Universal has offered to donate 17 acres of land for the tracks if that route is chosen.
The 417 route would be much cheaper, but Florida residents who live along that route are unsure about allowing a high-speed train to be built near their homes. In July 2021, the Central Florida Expressway Authority chose to indefinitely delay a decision as to whether to allow Brightline to build the train on the Road 417 route.
We’ve seen some progress on the train when it comes to other segments of Brightline’s total route. Recently, the project hit a big milestone, with new tracks reaching all the way from West Palm Beach to the Orlando International Airport. The first train that will run on this route has also arrived at the airport station!
We’re hoping a decision will be made soon about the train’s route so that construction can get started quickly connecting the airport to Disney World. Even once construction on this section begins, we’re sure to see some delays. Right now we’re planning on boarding the train sometime in 2026.
What are the Pros and Cons of the Train?
Pro: It’ll be faster than the buses
The high-speed trains can run at about 125 miles an hour, which is definitely faster than any Disney bus we’ve been on, though the trains typically run at slower speeds in congested areas. It’s about 17 miles from the airport to Disney Springs on State Road 528 and 20 miles if you take State Road 417.
But we expect the train will be as fast or faster than driving a rental car, taking a bus service, or taking a rideshare — at least when it comes to getting from the airport to Disney Springs.
Con: It’s gonna take a LONG time to be finished
As we just mentioned, this train isn’t going to be available for a LONG time. The projected end date for the project is sometime in 2026.
So even though it’ll be likely be speedy and convenient when it does become available, we’ll be waiting a long time to use this service. In the meantime, we’ll need to find another way to get to Disney World from the airport.
Pro: It’s an easy, built-in way to get to Disney World
Trains are a pretty hassle-free way to travel. All you need to do is buy your ticket and board the train. With ride-shares, you’ll need to have the app for whichever service you’re using, book a trip (which can sometimes be difficult if they’re in high demand), find the car you reserved, and calculate the driver’s tip at the end.
Especially if you can book your train ride in advance, the Brightline is just going to be an easier way to get to Disney World without too much trouble. And it’s possible that the tickets will be cheaper for your family than most rideshare services.
Con: It takes you to Disney Springs, so there’s an extra stop
If you use a rideshare or book a taxi, you can be dropped off right at the entrance to your Disney World hotel. With the Brightline train, the only known option at least initially will be the stop near Disney Springs. That adds an extra step of getting from that stop to your hotel.
We’re not sure what that step will look like (a bus, a rideshare car, a taxi, etc.), but it will likely add some time and maybe some expense to your trip. So will the trains actually be faster when all’s said and done? Depending on this leg of the journey, maybe not.
Is This the First Time Disney Has Used a Train?
The short answer: No! Disney actually uses trains to get guests from airports or other locations to their parks around the world. None of these are Brightline trains, but they’re operating with the same idea. In Japan, guests can get from the Narita Airport to the Tokyo Station via the Narita Express train. There they can catch the train on the JR Keiyo line to arrive at the Maihama Station, which is a 5-minute walk from Tokyo Disneyland.
Hong Kong Disneyland also has a mass-transit train that runs from Sunny Bay (located near the Hong Kong International Airport) directly to the Disneyland park. So Disney has had some experience with using trains to get guests to their parks quickly and easily.
That about sums up everything we know so far about the new train that’ll connect the Orlando International Airport to Disney World. Keep following DFB, because we’ll let you know about any more news on this project!
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Would you ride the train from the Orlando Airport to Disney World? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!