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Brightline Expansion ‘Near’ Disney World, Universal Hits Major Milestone

Florida’s high-speed passenger rail service is one less bureaucratic hurdle away from providing transportation to Guests looking to experience Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort.

Starting out by providing commuter service to the Southeast Corridor of the Sunshine State between Miami and West Palm Beach, the private rail company Brightline has been hard at work trying to connect people to the best parts of South Florida. A special station has been erected at Orlando International Airport’s brand-new terminal, and the route connecting it to West Palm Beach is reportedly 83% completed. After rail service from MCO to Miami begins early next year, the next expansion phase has been to stretch to Tampa with two stops near Central Florida’s two biggest Theme Park destinations, thanks to a proposed collaboration with Orlando’s commuter train, SunRail.

Brightline route map

Credit: Spectrum News 13

According to Orlando Business Journal, SunRail’s governing body, SunRail Central Florida Commuter Rail Commission, voted unanimously to approve the joint rail venture known as the Sunshine Corridor. The east/west route will have a more regionalist approach, including a stop near the Orange County Convention Center and Universal Orlando’s new Theme Park, Epic Universe, as well as a stop on International Drive, which will offer easy access to Walt Disney World Resort.

SunRail

Credit: SunRail

Read More: Brightline Confirms Cancellation of Disney Springs Station

Unfortunately, this plan has not been without some controversy, as the Brightline extension has been built up for years as “a train to Disney World,” with only one additional stop proposed between MCO and Tampa on Disney World property adjacent to Disney Springs. We at Disney Fanatic last reported that not only did the Sunshine Corridor plan take away Disney’s exclusive station, but it confirmed an additional station would be built to benefit Disney World’s biggest rival. This decision also came after Universal offered to donate some of its land holdings to the project as well as other financial assistance.

“We wanted to be able to show [the Federal Transit Administration] and the rest of the [U.S. Department of Transportation] administration that we are united as a region behind this, and we also wanted to show our private partners like Brightline and the tourist interests that we are supporting it on the public side, as well,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, chairman of the SunRail governing board.

Credit: USA Today

Read More: Video: First Brightline Train Arrives at MCO

“This is the work/live/play model we have been working for,” Maria Triscari, president and CEO of the I-Drive Resort Area Chamber of Commerce, said. “This is a moment of time to finally make it a reality.”

From this point, the focus turns to a ridership study of the corridor, which is set to be completed by the middle of the month. This survey will also help clarify cost estimates.

We at Disney Fanatic will continue to update our readers on Disney Parks news and stories as more developments come to light.

About T.K. Bosacki

TK is a writer and editor based in Tampa, FL with a passion for all things Disney, and adventure.