President announces Disney-to-Legoland-to-Busch Gardens train

January 27, 2010, 10:09 PM · Well, that's the essence of what President Obama will announce Thursday in Tampa: More than a billion dollars for a high-speed train route linking Orlando and Tampa.

The interesting part for theme park fans is the route that the train is initially designed to take. It would start at the Orlando International Airport, then make stops at the Orlando Convention Center (a short bus hop to SeaWorld and Universal Orlando), Walt Disney World (near the end of World Drive, by Celebration), near Lakeland (not too far from Legoland Florida), and finally in Ybor City (a straight shot down the street from Busch Gardens Tampa).

Call this the Theme Park Express.

No word tonight on when the project would be completed, or if it is built in segments, when the first segments would be open.


Replies (20)

January 27, 2010 at 10:23 PM · Sweet! Is the President a closet Theme-Park enthusiast?
January 27, 2010 at 11:10 PM · How funny. When I first heard about this high-speed train (many months ago) my first thought was, "NOW it'll be much easier to visit theme parks." (and I guess Obama agrees somewhat-- great minds think alike hee hee)
January 28, 2010 at 3:07 AM · This is not unlike the San Diego/Los Angeles line that SD is supposed to get federal $$$ for. Depends on the stops, I guess.
January 28, 2010 at 6:57 AM · Hoping the First Family will make a telegenic visit to orlando this summer.
January 28, 2010 at 7:17 AM · A billion dollars?! Who's paying for this? (Oh ya, I am...) How much will a fare be to ride?
January 28, 2010 at 8:04 AM · Very nice indeed.. Plus there is a college right near Busch in Tampa.. This will make travel for students easier..
I am sure some out of touch republican will oppose it…!! Hahahaha
January 28, 2010 at 8:11 AM · We will all be long gone by the time this will be built. It has been in progress for nearly 10 years, and they havent done anything, havent purchased land, nothing. Dont hold your breath. This was a ploy to win Florida in 2012.
January 28, 2010 at 8:49 AM · Sounds COOL! Can't wait to use this!
January 28, 2010 at 9:16 AM · Glad to see that this finally will happen. The Orlando area has been after a bullet train for a while. Waste of money? depends on the final cost, the cost of using the train, and how much it's used. If a lot use it and it mostly pays for itself, traffic on the roads will be reduced, therefore reducing the maintenance costs on highways, off ramps...etc etc. The millions and millions that visit these parks every year have more of an effect on infrastructure than most would think, and there is potential for a large customer base.

On the other hand, it could be a giant money pit mired in mismanagement and failure. It wouldn't be the first time a project like this fails if that happens.

January 28, 2010 at 9:45 AM · Must be a sort-of "thank you" for his inception to The Hall of Presidents, securing his place in theme park history. And, chances are, this train will only solidify that place.

I'm sure that FlexTicket customers will receive some sort of inclusion into this venture. They already shuttle guests down to Tampa via bus if you buy a FlexTicket or multi-day SeaWorld/Busch ticket. They could cut the buses out and stick to the tracks. Unlikely to save them any money, but likely to satisfy their customers (and possibly draw more in).

January 28, 2010 at 10:09 AM · Wow! Legoland decision to buy the land must of been in large part cause of this. Great, great news. Surely the tourist will flock from Disney for a Day at Legoland with being able to ride the train. Wonder if there will be parking at each stop.
January 28, 2010 at 11:34 AM · If the Lakeland station becomes a reality it might help, but a drive from Lakeland to Cypress Gardens is roughly 35-45 minutes according to Google Maps directions. I don't think it will help that much unless Legoland runs shuttle buses from the station to the park and back.
January 28, 2010 at 12:00 PM · Robert, in all of your recent articles about Legoland Florida I think it's painfully obvious that you've never been to Cypress Gardens and you don't know much about its location.

Let's set the record straight since the article title is misleading. Lakeland is not close to Winter Haven where Legoland Florida is. It's a 30-40 minute drive by car to Winter Haven. In fact, the comment about Universal being close to the convention center is false. Universal is a 10-minute drive from the convention center.

This high-speed rail project is another waste of taxpayer dollars and will not eliminate the need for cars or other forms of transportation within the Orlando. In the end it will be another government subsidized rail line that will be under utilized and cost taxpayers millions to keep operational. Like nearly all rail lines in the US the fee charged to the rider will be a fraction of the actual cost to operate the line.

This is another wasteful government project and nothing to get excited about. I shouldn't have to point out that most Orlando visitors don't visit Busch Gardens. Hence, why it's an upgrade on the Flex Ticket. This is a theme park fan site and the way we visit parks is very different than the average Orlando visitor.

January 28, 2010 at 12:02 PM · 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.
January 28, 2010 at 12:54 PM · This morning the fare was estimated at $29 going from end to end. The gov. is looking into making toll lanes in the middle of I4.
January 28, 2010 at 1:11 PM · For the record, I've been to Cypress Gardens multiple times, as well as spending a good amount of time in Lakeland.

I've not yet seen when exactly the Lakeland station will be located, but it seems to me to make some sense to place it on the eastern side of town, closer to Winter Haven, if there's any interest in using this train to serve the tourist market. (And, frankly, I think that's the *entire* purpose of this route - to help get lots of rental cars off the road in Central Florida.)

Obviously, there'd need to be bus connections from all of these stops to the various theme parks, but it'd be easier for Legoland to run shuttles from a Lakeland train station than from the Orlando parks. (Though I woudln't be surprised if they do both at some point.)

I also love how some people get indignant about the government spending money on rail but never say a peep about the government spending money on roads. Face it, unless you're walking (and often even then), *all* transportation you take off private property is subsidized by your tax dollars - budgeted and spent by your elected representatives in government.

January 28, 2010 at 6:10 PM · Suprised this happened already...

Though I am not too impressed with the Disney Stop. Sure, its better than nothing, but Celebration is really nowhere that near the rest of Walt Disney World.

Still pretty cool. Disney's Magical Express might be a good option still.

Also, what is with the no named cynics? How is this really political? Give people jobs, get the theme park more guests (thus more people working at the parks) and allow guests to go to Disney, Universal, and Seaworld without a car (which is tough)

January 28, 2010 at 7:43 PM · Yep herd about it today on tv when he was talking. He said this will create jobs and will be funded by some recovery fund for the joblose and economy. He must want this to happen said it in his speech wednsday night and on thursday again in another speech.
January 28, 2010 at 8:39 PM · i dont see this making a big dent in the I4 or US192 traffic but there is no reason to not make it. More jobs, means more money, means more rides, means more churros!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


January 30, 2010 at 10:38 AM · I believe that this is a great idea but more thought to routes are needed. We depserately need one to downtown Orlando by the new Arena and the new Performing Arts Center and Church Street Station for commuters and toursits to get hte best bang for the spend here. I cannot fathom it not going into downtown after all the talk about the urban renewel desire that has been going on for the last few years by Mayors Dyer and Crotty. Please review these plans so that the commuters and tourists can see both downtown Tampa and Orlando or it will be a failure.

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