Walt Disney World And Orlando International Airport May Soon Be Linked By Trains, If Virgin Gets Its Way

Even if the plan were approved tomorrow, it would likely be three years before the first passengers boarded.

this is a stock photo of a walt disney world attraction
Jennifer Lynn / Flickr (CC BY 2.0 Aaron Homer)

Even if the plan were approved tomorrow, it would likely be three years before the first passengers boarded.

Visitors to Walt Disney World may soon have another option to get to the theme parks after their plane lands at Orlando International Airport: a train. At least, that’s the plan put forth by Virgin Trains, which hopes to partner with Orlando’s existing rail system to transport visitors from the airport to the resort.

For decades, visitors arriving to Central Florida by air have had to rent a car, take a cab, take a limo, or take an Uber from the Orlando airport to the resort, plans for Walt Disney World’s own airstrip having fallen apart not long after ground was broken on the property. And for the past decade or so, visitors staying in Walt Disney World resort hotels have had the option of taking a bus, Disney’s Magical Express, to and from the airport.

Now, as The Orlando Sentinel reports, Virgin wants in on that, only via rail instead of via the congested highways of Central Florida. Specifically, Virgin Trains hopes to partner with central Florida’s existing train system, SunRail, to link the airport to SunRail’s Meadow Woods station, to Walt Disney World, and possibly even south to Miami.

Virgin Trains president Patrick Goddard is bullish on the proposal actually becoming a reality.

“It’s our expectation to get it done and to build out to Disney. It is entirely conceivable that that can happen with the delivery of the Orlando station.”

Of course, nothing is going to happen on the project any time soon. There are mountains of red tape to cut through, negotiations with landowners to be hammered out, financing to be secured. If the project were to be given approval tomorrow, says Virgin, it would still be 30-36 months before the first passengers boarded. Still, Virgin hopes to get construction started “imminently.”

For what it’s worth, The Walt Disney Company is completely on-board (no pun intended) with the idea, says Goddard.

“We’ve had an excellent relationship with Walt Disney World. They are big supporters of our project.”

The Central Florida vacation destination is in the midst of a revitalization of sorts, with new resort hotels, new attractions, new transportation options for ferrying guests between certain locations on the property, and a fresh look for an aging theme park, all in the works for both the short term and the long term. One important of the refresh, Epcot’s Future World, is getting a face-lift, now that the four-decades-old park is showing signs of age.

Meanwhile, the resort is expecting a major influx of visitors later this year when a Star Wars-themed section of Disney’s Hollywood Studios opens in the first phase of a multi-phase opening process.