The State of Florida has applied for $2.5 billion in federal funding to help construct a high speed rail service in the Orlando area. Disney has even offered free land for an on-property station if the train gets the green light, but will Disney really support the new service? Will they even promote it?
If the State does get approved for the funds, it would be at least a year before any construction would begin and 2014 before the first passenger could board. Also, the Orlando project was only one of over 300 that has applied for a chunk of the $8 billion that is available.Disney has already made a few concessions when it comes to the project. First, as already stated, it would donate land for an on-property stop. Second, it has agreed to allowing a stop on International Drive, something it had first opposed. Thousands of competitor hotel rooms lie along this corridor, which explains Disney’s initial hesitation.
But back to the initial question…If the train does come to Disney, will the company do anything to support it? As of this point, it would be doubtful they would push guests towards using it.
Disney’s Magical Express was started in 2005 and has proven to be a huge addition to the Disney experience. It offers free (the price was rolled into the cost of the hotel room) transportation from Orlando International Airport to any Disney owned hotel. Luggage is also transferred for free. In offering this benefit, it keeps guests on property, spending more of their money at the World instead of at a competitor.
If guests were offered the train option, many might consider staying at a non-Disney hotel, or perhaps splitting their stay between Disney and other attractions such as Universal or Sea World. This would seem to be contrary to the best interest of the mouse.
One thing Disney may consider as a benefit of the train would be for the use of Cast Members. Tens of thousands of people are employed at Disney World and a high speed train option to the area would definitely be advantageous to those individuals.
As of now, we will just have to wait and see what happens.