The Brightline Bullet Train to Disney World Project Is Back… Sort of

When Disney’s Magical Express completed earlier this year, a large coverage gap between Orlando International Airport and Walt Disney World has been created. Disney was probably hoping people would use their Minnie Van service. But the price proved too high for many to tolerate when similar services were available at a much lower cost. Enter Brightline.

The rail service is currently building a high-speed train that will cross the state of Florida, providing access to many of its most popular destinations. In November 2020, Disney and Brightline jointly announced that a stop would be added on Disney property in Disney Springs. Most people saw this as a welcome addition, and while it wasn’t free like Magical Express, most accepted it as a reasonable replacement.

Credit: WQCS

Just months after the bus service ceased operations, it was announced that the Brightline stop at Disney Springs has been cancelled. Disney cited a new route for the train service, which made connecting impossible, saying: “As many people involved in this project know, the new route configuration does not support a Disney Sources station, and therefore we do not plan to be part of this project.

“Now what?” We’ve all thought. I had resigned myself to driving instead of flying from now on. However, recent developments indicate that the project could be back, just without Disney’s involvement. Stakeholders have drawn up a plan they call “The Sunshine Corridor”, which will add two new stations and integrate with Brightline’s downtown rail service. This will effectively connect the airport to Universal Orlando, Sea World and, most interestingly, Disney World with high-speed service. The new Disney station won’t be on Disney property, and it’s likely that Disney won’t serve it in its own transit system (which will further add to the frustration of entering the property, but an Uber right outside the gates is much cheaper than an Uber from the airport).

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Credit: Brightline

Recently, the SunRail Central Florida Commuter Rail Commission voted unanimously in favor of the Sunshine Corridor. This brings the project closer to reality and offers theme park enthusiasts a new travel option between the airport and their chosen theme park destination. Construction is well underway and Brightline expects service between Orlando International Airport and South Florida to begin in the first half of next year. Construction has yet to begin on the Orlando portion of the route, and no timeline has been given for when the service should be operational.

Jose P. Rogers