Walt Disney World and Brightline have reached a deal that will allow a train stop at Disney Springs on the campus of the sprawling theme park.
Details, including the design of the station. are still to be worked out but this is a large step for the train company as it tries to expand across Florida.
“Brightline will offer a car-free connection to the millions of visitors from around the state and the world who plan to make Walt Disney World Resort part of their vacation plans,” said Patrick Goddard, the president of Brightline. “Our mission has always been to connect our guests to the people and places that matter, and Walt Disney World Resort is a tremendous example of this.”
For Disney, this marks a major shift in the company’s policies. For years, Disney has rejected efforts to have a train station at the park, including not allowing a station during the push for light rail at the end of the 20th century and a stop was never given serious consideration when Sunrail was approved. The company allowed for a stop in Celebration when high-speed rail was voted into the Florida Constitution in the early 2000s but that stop was to be 9 miles away from the entrance to any theme park and Disney was set to handle most of the transportation to and from that stop to the parks.
“We’re excited to work with Brightline as they pursue the potential development of a train station at Walt Disney World Resort, a project that would support our local economy and offer a bold, forward-looking transportation solution for our community and guests,” said Jeff Vahle, the president of Walt Disney World Resort, on Monday.
In order to get a train to Disney, Brightline has a long way to go. First, Brightline will have to finish the first leg of its plans and get a train from South Florida to Orlando. While the train service is already up and running between Miami and West Palm Beach, plans to expand to its terminus at Orlando International Airport have taken substantially longer than originally planned. The tracks between Cocoa and Orlando are now under construction, with service slated to begin in 2022.
After that line is up and running, Brightline has already negotiated a deal with the Florida Department of Transportation to extend service from Orlando to the Tampa area. The company has already started the engineering and design work for this leg of service. Much of this work was already done at the beginning of the century when it looked like there would be a train line built by the state. At the time, the right of way in the center and on the side of I-4 between the two cities was going to be used. This will again be the most likely space for a rail line to be built.
So far on the Brightline website, Disney and a Tampa station are the only two stops listed on this line, and there is no timeline for construction. Plans at the Disney station call for a ground floor lobby and passenger facilities with an upper-level train platform for passengers.
Reach Mike Synan at email@example.com.