The Walt Disney Company along with officials of Brightline have confirmed that they are having advanced discussions about a new train station being placed on or close to the Disney theme park property as part of the proposed passenger-rail system route to Tampa which is being renamed as Virgin Trains USA.
Virgin’s executive vice president for infrastructure, Michael Cegelis, told local officials recently that Virgin’s discussions with Disney are in a “rather advanced state now.”
Disney officials stated, “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 officials also said in their statement, “While we have not yet made any definitive commitment, we have mutually agreed to more formally explore developing a train station on our property.”
Virgin Trains is at work on a $4 billion, 160-mile expansion from West Palm Beach to Orlando International Airport. The privately financed project includes new rail corridor alongside State Road 528 from the airport to an existing track system that spans Brevard County to South Florida and is being revamped.
Originally, Virgin officials said that the Miami-to-Orlando trip would take three hours. The addition of new stations would reportedly not add a significant amount of time to that the trip.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, company officials “have not determined whether an Orlando-to-Tampa station at or near Disney would serve only transportation needs or also be tied to real-estate development.”
Ben Porritt, a Virgin senior vice president, said, “When you look at the millions of out-of-state visitors traveling to Florida, as well as the 21 million residents of the state, providing a car-free option would be a big win.”
The majority of the track from Orange County to Tampa would follow the median of Interstate 4. A station in Lakeland is also under consideration.