Private passenger rail operator Brightline is going it alone on a station near Disney World as part of its planned extension from Orlando to Tampa.
The railroad had been working jointly with Disney on a station at Disney Springs that would have served the entertainment company’s parks. However, Disney surprisingly pulled out of the agreement on Monday, telling the Orlando Sentinel that a change to the planned alignment did not “support a Disney Springs station.” The new alignment, which was agreed to earlier this year, includes a stop at the Orange County Convention Center between the Orlando airport and the planned Disney station.
Brightline said Tuesday that it would build “an alternative station … located near the original Disney Springs site, albeit not on Disney-owned land.” It added that the new alignment, which will be jointly built with the Orlando-area rail operator SunRail, would “provide access to the largest economic and employment centers in Central Florida and offer the best opportunity for the success of Brightline and SunRail.”
The Disney station changes come as Brightline prepares to begin running test trains from Miami to Orlando by the end of the year. Passenger service between Florida’s two largest cities is expected to begin early next year.
Brightline ridership between Miami and West Palm Beach in South Florida is running 20 percent ahead of pre-pandemic levels.