Those of you who follow me on Facebook (Stacey Raker with Magical Travel) know that I have provided a review and feedback from my latest magical vacation to Walt Disney World. One thing I had not talked about was our journey to the destination. In an effort to always further my knowledge and do something different, we decided to take the Amtrak Auto Train to Florida and drive back. This blog post will be about our experience.
To catch the auto train from our home base outside of Philadelphia, we traveled to Lorton, Virginia which was about a two hour ride. One tip I have is eat prior to arriving in Lorton, there isn’t much available other than fast food. You can begin arriving at 11:30am and the latest arrival time is 2:00pm. We arrived at 1:45pm not realizing that 2:00pm was the cutoff! We did not have to wait long to have our vehicle checked in and grab our overnight bags.
Once your vehicle is checked in, you proceed to the terminal and check in at the desk. You will be given a dining time and an assigned seat. Seats are two by two on the train so we had one person in our group sitting along. We boarded rather quickly and they separate you by sleeping car and regular coach class. The sleeping car accommodations are a bit more pricey and aren’t more than a small bunk, so we opted for coach class when purchasing our ticket. We found our seats and they were quite roomy and comfortable. They is a foot rest as well as a leg rest you can raise like an ordinary reclining chair. One observation I made is that you cannot control the air flow as you can on an airplane. You have an overhead light and overhead compartments for storage. We settled in and started our journey a few minutes early.
The ride was quite peaceful and before long, they called us for dinner. As I mentioned, we were a party of five and the maximum at a dining table is four so again, our fifth person had to eat with strangers. There was a nice selection of food choices, a fish, a red meat, a chicken and a vegetarian dish. We chose the steak which was quite tasty and accompanied by mashed potatoes. Dessert was a choice of ice cream, lemoncello, cheese cake and a sugar free option. We all had something different and everyone liked their choice.
Upon returning to our seats, we started to get settled into our area for the evening. The train moves at a nice pace and the bathrooms are typical of an airline bathroom, however the accessible bathroom was quite roomy. You have electric outlets at your seat to charge computers, phones etc, but you only have internet access in the lounge area. They offer an evening movie selection in the lounge for entertainment as well. When it came time to sleep, everyone was respectful and kept the noise level down. The reclining seats were comfortable and you were able to get to almost a completely reclined pose. The rocking motion of the train helps you to fall asleep but it was quite noisy if people opened the doors of the car to walk through and of course the train whistles at every intersection!
We popped our headphones on and slept rather well. Continental breakfast is served beginning at 6:00am. Our arrival in Sanford, Florida was uneventful and a little delayed. We arrived around 10:30am. We discovered that although we were very late checking our car in back in Virginia, it worked to our advantage because it came off the train rather quickly. Everyone sits in the terminal and they call the cars by number. Once ours was called we were loaded in the car and off to Disney within four minutes.
All in all, I believe this is a great alternative transportation to Florida. The biggest bonus is that you have a car when you are there and you can park hop, park for free (if you are staying at a Disney resort), you do not have to rely on buses or worry about overcrowded buses and you aren’t limited on luggage which means more room for awesome Disney souvenirs! If you want more information on the Amtrak Auto Train, please contact me at Stacey.firstname.lastname@example.org