TAMPA — Brightline-Virgin Trains USA is making its most definitive statement yet about the idea of putting a train station at Walt Disney World as part of its planned passenger rail route between Tampa and Orlando.
It likes it.
“We are continuing to explore the possibility of building a station on Walt Disney World Resort property, which we believe will help transform the region," Brightline-Virgin Trains senior vice president Ben Porritt said in a statement on Tuesday.
“A proposed station would provide a direct rail connection to Orlando International Airport and serve as the initial segment for Virgin Trains’ future extension to Tampa,” Porritt said. "A Disney station would offer the 126 million visitors and 21 million residents of Florida a car-free option to the state’s most-visited attraction and one of the world’s greatest destinations.”
In a statement of its own to the Orlando Sentinel, Disney likewise said the stop makes sense.
“As the top vacation destination and largest single-site employer in the United States, Walt Disney World Resort is an obvious choice for a rail station between Orlando International Airport and Tampa,” Disney said. "While we have not yet made any definitive commitment, we have mutually agreed to more formally explore developing a train station on our property.”
Previously, Brightline has included a possible Disney station on maps filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The company also has discussed putting a station near Celebration, where State Road 417 takes traffic from Interstate 4 to the Magic Kingdom and other Disney properties.
The company currently is in talks with state transportation officials and the Central Florida Expressway Authority for leases on rights of way to put its trains in the medians of Interstate 4 and State Road 417. For now, however, the main focus is on building a new line between Orlando and South Florida. Construction began in June and is projected to be done by the end of 2022.