Brightline nixes plans for Disney Springs stop, spokesperson confirms
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In a blow to those looking for a direct link from Orlando International Airport (MCO) to Walt Disney World without a rental car, a Disney spokesperson confirmed the Brightline train will not stop at Disney Springs, as was previously planned since November 2020.
At the time, a joint announcement read: “Brightline will offer a car-free connection to the millions of visitors … who plan to make Walt Disney World Resort a part of their vacation plans.” But, as of yesterday, that partnership has dissolved.
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The “new route configuration does not support a Disney Springs station and, as a result, we don’t anticipate being part of this project,” said Disney spokesperson Avery Maehrer. The train connecting Orlando with Tampa will now continue directly from International Drive in Orlando’s tourism corridor to the Tampa Bay area.
The multimillion-dollar station would have allowed tourists to ride the Brightline from MCO directly to Disney property, then hop on a bus to their desired hotel or theme park destination.
Brightline’s senior vice president of corporate affairs, Ben Porritt, said community leaders — including International Drive business and Universal Orlando Resort representatives — asked the company to “explore alternative alignments” for the planned east-west rail expansion.
According to Porritt, the new solution is called the Sunshine Corridor and includes two new stations: one at the Orange County Convention Center (near SeaWorld and Universal Orlando Resort) and another near Disney Springs, but not on Disney-owned land.
With the 2025 opening of Universal Orlando Resort’s new theme park, Epic Universe, on the horizon, it’s no wonder Universal’s executives lobbied for the change. Universal expects to add more than 100,000 jobs by the time Epic Universe opens its doors to the public.
Brightline’s current route serves Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton and West Palm Beach. The station connecting South Florida to the Orlando International Airport’s new Terminal C is under final testing and review. It’s expected to open by mid-2023, and construction on the expansion to Tampa is expected to begin in 2024.
Featured photo by Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group/Getty Images.
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