Trains to Disney World and Disneyland
LAST UPDATE: 4/22/13
Traveling by train can be a lot of fun, and it’s quite low-stress. The main “down sides” to visiting Disney theme parks by Amtrak are the increased travel time and the expense — though sometimes train fares can beat the best airfares! I’ve compiled information, discounts, and tips for traveling via train to Disney.
You can travel by train from many major Northeastern US cities to the Orlando or Kissimmee, Florida stations in 18-24 hours. (Be aware that these trains make many stops and delays are extremely common, so don’t count on the times provided by Amtrak!)
Amtrak coach fares can be very reasonable, if you’re able to sleep sitting up in a fairly comfortable seat that reclines. A good test: can you sleep through the night in a recliner chair? If so, you’ll probably be fine sleeping in a coach seat for one night. Bring a pillow (or a pillowcase that you can stuff clothing into) and a blanket with you.
Take a cooler full of food, too — the food offered on the train is only so-so and it can eat up your budget. MouseSavers.com reader Wendy Y reports, “There is a dining car [for] dinner but you have to make reservations. By the time it got to us to make reservations, the only time they had left was 9:15 pm. A little too late for our kids!”
If you want a sleeping compartment, the price is quite a bit higher, but it can still be worthwhile. Bear in mind that sleeping compartments do include meals (generally dinner and continental breakfast). Here are some comments from MouseSavers.com reader Michael C, showing what a good deal this can be if you find a good fare:
“One thing that must be considered with the sleeping compartments on Amtrak is that the upgrade price for the accommodation is PER ROOM, not PER PERSON….
After moving to the east coast… I realized that rail travel was a real deal here! …. In June , we’ll be going to Orlando [from Raleigh, which takes about 11 1/2 hours overnight].
The cost of this trip, in a regular reserved seat, is $48/person. But with advance planning, we can get a sleeper (a “roomette”) for $148 additional, per room, each way. Grand total: $392, with taxes, for two. And as you noted, sleepers come with meals. However, what many don’t realize is that the sleepers on most east-coast routes also include en-suite toilets. For my traveling companion, this is a make-or-break deal!
That being said, in heavier travel periods, this same route is easily $700… it’s all about planning in advance on the train! In addition, once you do book, keep an eye on the fares; if they go down, Amtrak will refund the difference!”
MouseSavers.com reader Wendy Y has these comments on the sleepers and families: “The cheapest ones only sleep 2 people. If you have more than 1 kid, unless they are old enough for you to trust to be in their own room, this means splitting them up.” [Note that there are also Bedroom Suites and Family Bedrooms on some trains, which sleep up to 4 people.]
Many people in the Northeastern US like to use the Auto Train from Lorton, VA (near Washington, DC) to Sanford, FL (fairly close to Walt Disney World). This allows you to bring along your own vehicle, which can save you a lot on a rental car. Normally this service is quite pricey, but bear in mind that it includes your transportation, transportation for a car, a buffet meal for dinner and continental breakfast in the morning.
Amtrak trains to Walt Disney World stop at three stations: Orlando, Kissimmee and Sanford.
- The Orlando station (served by the Silver Service/Palmetto line) is about 20 miles (a 30 minute drive) from Walt Disney World. This is a fully staffed station with an enclosed waiting area. There is a taxi stand at the station. Hertz has rental car service at this station.
- The Kissimmee station (served by the Silver Service/Palmetto line) is about 15 miles (a 25 minute drive) from Walt Disney World. Note that many offsite hotels are in Kissimmee, so if you are staying in that city, this station may be the closest to your hotel. This is a staffed station with an enclosed waiting area. You will have to call for a taxi, if needed. No rental car service.
- The Sanford station (served only by Auto Train) is about 43 miles (a 50 minute drive) from Walt Disney World. This is an unstaffed station with an enclosed waiting area. You will have to call for a taxi, if needed. Hertz has rental car service at this station. You will need to reserve your car in advance for this location. Call Hertz on arrival and a shuttle will pick you up from the station.
Disneyland Area Train Services
- You can travel from the Anaheim station to Disneyland on Anaheim Resort Transportation (ART). Buy an ART day pass from a kiosk at the station, which costs $4 per adult, $1 per child (ages 3-9). Children 2 and under ride for free.
- You can call for taxi service to Disneyland, and it won’t cost much.
- Hertz has rental car service at Anaheim station. You will need to reserve your car in advance for this location. Call Hertz on arrival and a shuttle will pick you up from the station.
Disneyland To/From San Diego (SeaWorld, San Diego Zoo, Legoland)
It’s a short (just over 2 hours), pleasant Amtrak train ride between San Diego and Anaheim, so you can certainly combine the delights of SeaWorld and the San Diego Zoo with your trip to Disneyland. It’s also relatively inexpensive — you can travel between San Diego and Anaheim for about $20 (or less with various promotions) each way. From the main station in San Diego, it’s an inexpensive taxi fare to downtown and the major attractions.
Legoland is about 5 miles from the Oceanside station, located partway between Anaheim and San Diego. Getting to the park would involve a fairly inexpensive taxi fare from the station. The Oceanside station is served by both Amtrak and Metrolink.
Disneyland To/From Los Angeles by Train
If you want to make a day trip to Los Angeles from Disneyland, that’s easy. You can take a Metrolink commuter train or an Amtrak train from Anaheim station. The trip to Los Angeles Union Station takes less than an hour and from there you can take Metrorail (subway) to areas like Hollywood, Universal Studios, etc. For specifics on how to get to Hollywood by train or other public transportation, click here.
If you will be staying in Los Angeles and want to get to Disneyland for a day trip, Amtrak has morning trains to Anaheim. Unfortunately the southbound Metrolink trains from Los Angeles do not serve Anaheim in the morning, so they won’t work for visiting Disneyland from Los Angeles as a day trip.
Disneyland To/From San Francisco
There is no Amtrak train service in San Francisco. The nearest city to San Francisco that is served by Amtrak trains is Oakland. You can take an Amtrak BUS from San Francisco to Oakland, or use other public transportation. From Oakland you take the Coast Starlight train and change in Los Angeles to another train to Anaheim. The journey takes nearly 11 hours and delays are common. A rental car or flying is really a better bet for the long trip between the Bay Area and Anaheim, unless you just love long train journeys. Thanks to David C and John A for corrections.
- Scour Amtrak.com for specials. (Click on the Hot Deals tab.) There are almost always special promotions that can save you a lot of money on certain routes.
- Amtrak generally takes 50% off adult fares for kids ages 2 to 15.
- Students, seniors and veterans also get discounts all the time.
- Be sure to sign up for the Amtrak Guest Rewards program, which allows you to accumulate points when you travel by train. If you travel by train within 90 days of signing up, you get 500 bonus points. MouseSavers.com reader Wendy Y points out, “Register one family member and then from that account, refer another family member, etc. You get extra points for doing this. You just never know if those extra points will come in handy.” You can also earn Guest Rewards points through certain hotel stays, car rentals and more.