Auto Train?

Looking for anyone who has experience with the Auto Train. I’m going to be in DC in August and was planning on just driving back to Orlando (going back to Ca from there, as my car lives in Orlando. lol).

But a friend of mine is on a train trip and I’m a bit jelly, and then I realized, AUTO TRAIN!

So, looking for anyone who’s done it recently and what their thoughts are. I’m 100% looking at a sleeper car, because, if I’m going to do it I’m going to sleep and arrive rested instead of wrecked from an overnight drive. LOL

Is it worth it? I have a large SUV, so I calculated my fuel costs for the drive to be around $600-$700 depending on what prices are by then (eeks). For $370 more I can have a bed, meals, an experience (my kid is with me and he’s obsessed with train travel), and priority unloading.

Is it worth the extra $70 for priority unloading? We don’t have any major plans on arrival day, but I admit to being impatient, sooooo.

Thanks! I did search the forums, but I couldn’t find anything within the last 6-months or so. Of course it could be user error, as I don’t think I’ve ever even started a thread here before!


Also I fully expect @mousematt to come along and get snarky. Let’s snark right back at him!!!


I have no recent experience to offer you but I would like to be here to follow along for any and all snark or shenanigans.


LOL!! Welcome aboard!


Some people have been posting about it my post about trains.


DD and I are taking the auto train down in mid-July, so I can let you know then (when it’s too late to do you any good!) She’s going to be starting her CDP, and we booked back in February on the assumption that she’ll get a parking pass. (If she doesn’t, I may just drive the car home to Pittsburgh myself. We still want the car for moving her in.) I booked with Amtrak points, so it was free (!) but I missed the option to unload early, and can’t figure out how to add it on. We went with the sleeping-berths-but-shower-down-the-hall option because by the time I made up my mind we were going to do this, Amtrak upped the number of points for the “full sleeper car” experience. THE EARLIER YOU BOOK THE CHEAPER IT IS!


amtraktrains forum is my go-to for Amtrak information.


I think that sounds like a way more fun experience than driving. I watched a youtube video of how they load and unload the cars on the train… super slow and painful process so $70 seems like a bargain.


I believe @eeeevah did the auto train in 2020 or 2021. Definitely during pandemic times.


Thanks for tagging me! Yes! I did auto train with my husband and then 5 and 2 year old last May. We had a full sleeper car with our own bathroom (plus an extra sleeper no bathroom for DH as they only allow three in the room). It was fantastic. We would do it again in a heartbeat. And yes, I would definitely pay for priority unloading. We waited maybe an hour or maybe even 90 minutes for our car upon arriving and that was really the worst part.


Thanks. Good to know the priority thing is worth it. I’m impatient like that! LOL


I have been traveling on the Auto Train since my WDW trip in 2000 (20+ one way trips). I have an upcoming trip in Dec and the train is booked. I am traveling with 2 of my 3 daughters and my GF. My youngest (at 30) is special needs so the train has always been the best option - she won’t fly and the drive from Phila is too long for her. We have two connecting bedrooms. Since we have two cars, I added the priority unloading…usually it seems our car is always one of the last. Over the years some of the niceties have gone away - free fruit and cookies and wine in the lounge but I read that the wine may be back with dinner. They also did a refurb on the bedroom. We find it generally a fun trip but the last one in 2019 was late in both directions.
Ask any questions you would like. I would suggest that once you make your reservation, track the pricing every few days to see if it has dropped. If it does, give them a call and they will adjust to the new price.


ohhh, good to know! Thank you so much.

It does say there is wine with dinner. I don’t drink, so it’s not really a big deal for me. I am going to spring for the priority unloading, it seems like the smart thing to do!

I just noticed that the departure time for the train has changed from 4pm to 5pm , arriving 1 hour later in Sanford. It has been 4 pm since I started taking the train and my tickets show 4pm. This hour difference may impact your arrival plans…I will be adjusting our first day lunch (at the Plaza) to a later time.
We also spend the night before at the Holiday Inn Express in Lorton. I get too nervous about getting stuck in traffic on the way to Lorton on the day of departure and missing the train, so we drive down the day before.


Auto Train Departure Time Change

Effective May 2, 2022

This spring, the departure and arrival of the Auto Train between Lorton, VA, and Sanford, FL, will slide one hour later. Additional changes outlined below.

Effective May 2, 2022, the following changes to the Auto Train schedule will occur:

  • Trains 52 and 53 depart at 5 pm and arrive at 9:59 am.
  • Check-in for all vehicle types begins at 12:30 pm and closes at 3 pm.
  • New daily station hours in Lorton and Sanford will be 9:15 am to 4:45 pm.

Source: Amtrak

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Oh yeah I saw that when I booked it. We don’t have plans on arrival day, so not really a huge deal. We’re ending a 5-week road trip with 6 days in Orlando just to kind of chill before flying home. (The car lives there too)

Should be exciting!