Amtrak Compliment - A Nice Alternative - The Auto Train
A long planned trip to Disney World with the grandkids was scheduled for the week following Thanksgiving. When I was making the travel arrangements, I was dreading the airport hassles, with visions of my 5 year old grandson being strip searched. (I think we all saw that video).
Then I remembered the Auto Train. We did this trip a few times when our own kids were small, and liked it then.
It's even better now. The train departs from Lorton VA, so we drove down from Boston the day before, and spent the time on a quick DC tour. You board the train at 3 pm, and at the same time your car is loaded onto a car carrier.
The train pulls out at 4, and at 5 they have the first seating for dinner in the dining car. On the outbound trip I had chicken marsala, wine and cheesecake. Returning it was braised beef, more wine and a decadent brownie a la mode. In general, the conductor and support staff are very cordial and friendly, and took time out to socialize with the kids.
In the evening they run a movie in the lounge car, and put out cookies and snacks. After that, I was ready to recline my seat and close the shades. There are sleeper cars available, but I find the regular seats just fine. I didn't even need the bar car ahead of time to ensure a good sleep.
In the morning there is a Continental breakfast in the dining car. At 9 am the train rolls into Sanford FL, where they unload your car and you have a quick hop to WDW.
Perhaps the best thing is because you have your won car, you can pack whatever you want. No luggage to haul around, you just take what you need onto the train with you. ( i.e. your toothbrush) Since you never know what to expect at this time of year, we packed both summer and cool weather clothing.
The kids got a huge kick out of riding and sleeping on a train, and the cost (for 5 of us) was slightly less that airfare would have been. It was a win-win.
I think I am going to consider taking a train next time I vacation, it was a very pleasant alternative. I'd love to see them give the airlines a run for their money.
Auto Train Route