Amtrak Autotrain 101

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Blue Loop. Today we are sharing some tips to help you plan your Disney vacation.
Auto Train #6

Where does the train pick up passengers?

Amtrak Autotrain which runs from Lorton, VA to Sanford, FL.  The Autotrain is an excellent alternative for those people who are afraid to fly but don’t want to drive the entire distance either.

Auto Train #1

Lorton, VA is the northern loading point for the Autotrain.  Lorton is a 30 minute drive south on I-95 from Washington, DC.  So, people coming from the north still have to deal with traffic of the New York/Philadelphia/Baltimore/Washington DC megalopolis which from my perspective is the worst part of the drive, in terms of traffic.

Where does the train drop off passengers?

The train drops off passengers in Sanford, FL.  This leaves travelers a short drive from the train station to Walt Disney World.  Disney does not provide Disney’s Magical Express service from the train station to Walt Disney World or Orlando International Airport.  Guests, who do not have their car on board, will have to arrange their own transportation to/from Walt Disney World.  Guest, who do have their car, will just unload their car from the train and head to Walt Disney World.

What is the major advantage of taking the train?

The Autotrain can save 1800 miles of wear and tear on your car if you take the Autotrain round trip.  1800 miles puts most cars almost halfway to needing another oil change.  As a result, you may need to get your car serviced both before and after your trip to Walt Disney World if you drive the entire distance and not take the train.

Ok, this sounds interesting.  What is the train schedule?

The train’s schedule is easy to remember.  It leaves Lorton at 4 pm and it leaves Sanford also at 4 pm.  It takes just over 17 hours to make the trip on the train with a 9:29 AM arrival at each location.  Once your car is loaded onto the train, you don’t have to worry about another thing except relaxing and enjoying the ride while scenery going by your window.

Even though, the train leaves at 4 pm.  Amtrak starts loading cars as early as 11:30 am and recommends that you arrive by 2 pm.  NO VEHICLES WILL BE LOADED AFTER 2:30 pm.  If you are hauling a trailer, to ensure space for both the vehicle and the trailer, it must be loaded no later than 2 pm.  Two carry-on bags, per passenger, are permitted on the train.

How much does all this cost?

Riding the train can be as expensive, if not, more expensive than flying.  There are four different fare classes for the AutoTrain:

  1. Saver – least expensive fare
  2. Value – a more expensive fare – usually costs around $300, each way, for a family of four (two adults, two children ages 2-12)
  3. Flexible – even more expensive – can cost anywhere from $500 to $700, each way, for a family of four
  4. Premium – most expensive – the fare class allows guests to have their own personal room which converts into a sleeper car – can cost $700-900, each way, for a family of four
  5. Car fare – $436 round trip ($218 each way)

Auto Train #5Auto Train #8

Please tell me that I get fed?

Yes, the Autotrain does have dining cars which serves dinner.  The menu changes monthly.


What are the pros and cons of the Autotrain (according to friends of mine who have used the Autotrain)?


  • Only 8 hours of driving versus 24 hours (they, like Dad, live in upstate NY – your mileage may vary)
  • Pack as much as your car can fit
  • No need for a rental car
  • Arrive at your destination (Sanford or Lorton) rested at 10 am
  • Dinner and breakfast are included in the fare
  • Top notch service
  • The ability to get up and walk around without having to stop


  • Sleeping accommodations are expensive
  • Still a day of driving to and from Lorton (again your mileage may vary)
  • 18 hour train ride in tight quarters
For more information about the Autotrain, visit Amtrak’s Autotrain information page.

For more Disney trip planning tips,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!

For more Disney trip planning tips,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!

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