Walt Disney World Withdraws from Brightline Rail Plans

Plans to bring a Disney-sponsored high-speed rail station to the Disney Springs area have been scuttled. 

Brightline

In late 2020, Walt Disney World pledged its cooperationg in bringing the Brightline rail service to its resort area. Brightline is in the final stages of extending its line from Miami to the Orlando International Airport with service expected to begin in 2023. Simultaneously they have been be working to extend the route from the airport westward to the city of Tampa.

Initial plans looked at a route along State Route 417 in close proximity to Disney Springs. This route would have featured a Disney Springs station as the only other Orlando-area stop on the Brighline route.  

However, groups lobbied for a path along State Route 528 which could include access to Universal Orlando and Orange County Convention Center. While this route would reportedly more than double the cost of the project, Universal subsequently pledged land for a station and guaranteed $13 million in annual ticket sales. Dubbed the "Sunshine Corridor", this revised plan would integrate with Orlando's Sunrail to expand mass transit services throughout the area. 

Disney spokesperson Avery Maehrer confirmed its plans to withdraw from the Brightline project, telling the Orlando Business Journal: "as many people who are involved in this project are aware, the new route configuration does not support a Disney Springs station and as a result, we don’t anticipate being part of this project.” The alternate train route would have necessitated additional measures--and presumably cost--to connect to a station located near Disney Springs.  

Via its Twitter account, Brightline expressed a desire to support the Walt Disney World resort area despite the theme park giant's lack of involvement. Brightline intends to build a station "near the original Disney Springs site, albeit not on Disney-owned land."

Earlier this month, the Biden administration announced $24.4 million in funding for Florida railways, of which $15.9 is earmarked for Brightline's Tampa expansion. Universal Studios sees the line as a benefit to both guests and staff. Universal expects to add up to 14,000 new employees as it prepares for the opening of its Epic Universe theme park in 2025. 

The Disney Springs Brightline station was viewed by some as a potential replacement for Disney's Magical Express airport transportation, which was discontinued at the end of 2021. 

Email