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Vote of the week: Will you use Orlando's high-speed train to get from the airport to the theme parks?

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Published: January 29, 2010 at 3:38 PM

I'd like to get a feel for how popular President Obama's proposed high-speed rail line in Central Florida might be with Orlando visitors.

The proposed route would run from the Orlando International Airport over to the Orange County Convention Center, then down I-4 to Tampa. The route would take the train past all the Central Florida theme park resorts, though you'd need to take shuttles from the various stops to the parks and their nearby hotels. (The longest haul would be from the Lakeland stop to Legoland Florida - which would likely be 30 minutes or more. Then again, I've been stuck in International Drive traffic before that's made the trip from the Convention Center to Universal nearly that long....)

How do you get to your destination from the airport when you visit Orlando? And would you be likely to switch to the high-speed train once it's available? Proponents estimate that the trip from the airport to Tampa would take 45-50 minutes, if that gives you a feel for the travel time involved. Let's leave cost out of the equation for the moment; assume that the fare would be reasonable for the service provided.

If you now use hotel or park shuttles, such as Disney's Magical Express, and would likely continue using that in the future, select that option. If you're a rental car customer and plan to stay that way, pick that. But if you're willing to switch from those options, let us know. (I've added a fifth option for folks who live in Orlando, or have family or friends who pick them up at the airport. Update: forgot about those who drive down. Those can pick the fifth option, or sit this one out. Readers who don't visit Orlando can sit this vote out.)

The rail line's going in because (a) Obama needs to get unemployment down and construction projects such as this employ a lot of people, (b) the I-4 corridor has been a key swing vote region in the past two Presidential elections and is getting hammered by unemployment in this recession, and (c) the area's flooded with tourists in rental cars and if you're trying to get people to switch from cars to rail, it's a lot easier to get someone to give up a rental car for a week on vacation than to get them to stop driving their personal cars to and from work everyday.

The numbers for the first and second options in the vote should give us a sense, at least among Theme Park Insider readers, how many are willing to make that switch. The third and fourth numbers will show us how much people might switch from existing road-based mass transit to rail.

Let's hear in the comments what you would like to see from this project, and how parks should work with it, if at all.

Once again, thanks for reading Theme Park Insider, and have a great weekend!

Readers' Opinions

From James Rao on January 29, 2010 at 4:43 PM
I always drive to Orlando... getting there is part of the fun!
From Michael Owen on January 29, 2010 at 4:50 PM
Universal and SeaWorld have always tried hard to find ways to transport guest staying on Disney World property to their parks and it shows just how important a good transportation system is.

A high-speed rail network connecting Orlando's major tourist destinations to the airport would be fantastic, especially for those visitors who can't afford, or who do not want to be burdened with, a rental car.

I'll certainly be using this when it's up and running.

From Mike K on January 29, 2010 at 5:15 PM
As a resident of Orlando I think overall it is good. Putting many things aside, such as fares and train schedule, it does have potential. It would be great for residents traveling to the airport, as it would be easier to have a friend drive to a rail station than to the airport. As far as tourism, as long as enough infrastructure was built around the stations for transportation, I feel it would be very successful.
From Anthony Murphy on January 29, 2010 at 5:25 PM
I usually get a car, but this option might not be too bad. It would be good to go somehow to all the parks without having to move or get a car. Good idea for all of us under 25 who would have a tough time getting rentals.

There are alot of college students that come to the parks for Spring Break.

From 68.202.26.163 on January 29, 2010 at 7:09 PM
I am 24 years old, I am from the Tampa area, but live in Orlando (Universal Studios Area) for school. I know my family will use the train to get from Tampa to WDW(and to see me), as well as it will be a lot easier to travel home. I am really excited to see it go up!
From 24.73.197.194 on January 30, 2010 at 9:06 AM
Some of the readers here may like the idea of a high-speed train connecting Tampa with Orlando. But is it really a high-speed train? In France and Japan, the bullet trains average 170 to 180 miles per hour.

The closest thing we currently have to a bullet train in the U.S. is Amtrak's Acela line, which connects Washington with Boston. Although designed to run faster, Acela's top cruising speed is 130 mph, but that's only on two short stretchs in Rhode Island and Massachusetts; the train's average speed is 80 mph.

With so many stops between Tampa and Orlando, it's hard to imagine Florida's high-speed train will exceed Acela's average speed. In other words, the train isn't going to get you to Disney World much faster than your rental car.

From Tony Duda on January 30, 2010 at 4:07 PM
As I wrote in an earlier comment, right now it costs me about $25 in gas for the round trip drive to Orlando from my area near the Gulf and driving it takes about 2 hours or less each way. I can never see the new high speed train being less than that in money or time. The Tampa Bay area has NO feeder rail lines to the proposed Ybor City end point (which is about 35 miles from my house), only buses that have to go through the same congested roads that cars do. I don't see how a high speed train can be an improvement to what we do now. I-4 has almost been completely redone to make it a smooth transit route between Tampa and Orlando.
From Robert OGrosky on January 30, 2010 at 8:25 PM
Another waste of federal tax payer dollars!!!!!

If Orlando/Tampa Bay want high speed rail then these cities and the state of Florida should pay for it, and not burden the cost of this on taxpayers from across the country.
No wonder our country is trillions in debt and it just keeps getting bigger when the federal government is spending money that isn't a federal responsibility.

From 98.197.36.55 on January 30, 2010 at 9:19 PM
When we fly, we will use Disney's Magical Express. Sure, we're stuck on Disney property, unless we rent a car, or take a taxi. For me, it's utterly relaxing letting somebody else drive and take me where I want to go. I look forward to this new train though, it might mean we take a day trip to Busch Gardens or Universal since it will be all the quicker, and theoretically, easier.

I would guess that when this rail line goes live, Disney will likely provide guests access to it via their packages, and maybe even phase out Magical Express. The problem with this new rail line though, is like I pointed out, more guests might decide to take a day trip to Busch or Universal or any of the other area attractions. So, while it's a plus for Disney in having a stop right on property, it could also benefit their competitors just as well. Because, while it makes it quicker and easier to get to Disney, it also makes it quicker and easier to get to other places as well.

From Ron A on January 30, 2010 at 9:21 PM
When we fly, we will use Disney's Magical Express. Sure, we're stuck on Disney property, unless we rent a car, or take a taxi. For me, it's utterly relaxing letting somebody else drive and take me where I want to go. I look forward to this new train though, it might mean we take a day trip to Busch Gardens or Universal since it will be all the quicker, and theoretically, easier.

I would guess that when this rail line goes live, Disney will likely provide guests access to it via their packages, and maybe even phase out Magical Express. The problem with this new rail line though, is like I pointed out, more guests might decide to take a day trip to Busch or Universal or any of the other area attractions. So, while it's a plus for Disney in having a stop right on property, it could also benefit their competitors just as well. Because, while it makes it quicker and easier to get to Disney, it also makes it quicker and easier to get to other places as well.

From 97.102.41.202 on January 31, 2010 at 9:08 AM
Make no mistake, without a system of subway like transportation, which is not happening, the rail way is doomed to low ridership and government bailouts. IOW you are going to pay for this if you ride it or not.
From Doug Kelley on January 31, 2010 at 12:56 PM
I fly in and take Disney transpo (or a cab) from there. I think the train would be a nice option--whatever gets me to my hotel fastest! Wish they would put something similar in Vegas!
From 65.47.250.230 on January 31, 2010 at 3:00 PM
Since I actually fly into Charlotte to vist my Anut and rent a car there; I plan on driving to FL. I tend to stop at the little roadside stuff as I travel and that isn't an option when one takes the train.
From 75.251.101.207 on January 31, 2010 at 3:29 PM
I just spent six weeks commuting to St. Pete for a job and would happily take the train over their instead of paying $28 in gas every day, spending 3 to 4 hours on the commute and wearing out my car.

That said the train needs to come downtown to the Lynx station and not just stop in tourista-land or the airport - it needs to be convenient to the locals, not just airplane arriving touristas.

Doug D.
Orlando, FL

From 140.168.71.18 on January 31, 2010 at 6:37 PM
I would definitely use the rail link, as a foreign tourist I would prefer this to renting a car.
From 68.84.240.18 on February 1, 2010 at 11:10 AM
I think the High Speed Train is important and will bring a lot of positives to Central Florida. I was interested in the comment about it being the Obama Administration's desire for jobs & votes - we've only been in FL for two months, but I thought this type of train had been on the drawing board for several years, meaning prior to Mr. Obama. Whomever brought it to the board, its a great idea. We've traveled here many times over the years, and now live here - and as a travel writer, I get to see/do/experience so much. Watching & being around tourists who don't know where they're going while driving & looking around, a train like this would allow them to get places, be safe, and allow locals to be safe. To be honest, I'd love to not only see this time-saver and door opener, but I've said for years that the Orlando-theme-park-destination-heavy-area should put in a major Monorail system connecting many of these very attractions - can you imagine how easy & positive such a system would be?!
Rori - RoriTravel
From 79.76.126.163 on February 1, 2010 at 10:21 PM
Surley if its all connected correctly then it will be a much quicker and easier way to travel across the state, if you have two lines one running a high speed train stopping only at the larger stations such as the airport downtown disney tampa etc... which can get you there in short times and then had a slower but regular service which stops at all stations then its a win win situation?

I would much rather use a train to get to disney from the airport than a bus, as the bus queues are terrible most times. If you could leave you bags and jump on a train that takes you to a set point in disney then use disney transport from there it would be a lot quicker and easier

From 65.12.173.131 on February 2, 2010 at 6:40 PM
hey Ron A, Anthony M, Michael O, and Mike K, i'm doing a project in school where i pick an article and display it to my class with a couple other things. Can i use your comments to give examples of some people's oppinions?(i would list you as anonymous).
Thanks
From 76.109.230.130 on February 2, 2010 at 11:13 PM
This is just another example of our government ignoring the will of the people. 64% of voters voted against this project in 2004. The State of Florida DOT has forged ahead anyway, as has the Legislature, and the federal government. Sen. Bill Nelson, and Obama support it - against the will of the voters. What a bunch of pompous asses. Every one of them should be thrown in jail for unauthorized misappropriation of our tax dollars.
~ West Palm Beach Native and Voter

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