Calling Anyone Who Has Traveled by Train to Orlando

I think I want to go to Orlando by train rather than drive. I will have to drive to Columbia, SC to get to the line that goes there, rather than the line that is 30 minutes from me (which would take me all the way up to Virginia and back down to Columbia. That makes for an expensive and loooong trip.

I would have to be in Columbia at a stupid hour in the morning (1 am) and I would be back at an even stupider time (4 am) when I return.

How are train stations? Are they more like airports or like bus stations? Are there people working in the early stupid hours? Will I be safe to wait there if I go to the station early? Where can I find photos of the train station?

Are there more than one kind of passenger train? I’m looking at Amtrack.

What can I expect with train rides? I am trying to go cheap.

Is there transportation from Orlando Train station to WDW? Should I just go with Uber or Lyft?

Thanks in Advance!


Here’s the Amtrak info on the Columbia station. In my experience (Iowa to NM) they were more like bus stations with very limited amenities and hours. You can also see what the building looks like using Google maps, including street view. This one is 1991 steel building. The Amtrak site will help answer a lot of your questions.

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You are a lifesaver. Thank you.

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I’m trying to find the details on your (possible) train, the Silver Star, but haven’t yet. The trains on the east coast can vary a bit from the ones we get in the wide open West. Twice, I traveled on Amtrak’s Southwest Chief with a group of Boy Scout youth and leaders. We were in coach. Coach is cheap, but roomier, more comfortable seats than coach in airplanes. Our trip was long, we slept in our seats. You can bring food/snacks on the train. The biggest pain about trains was they were not very good about being on time. It can be late by just a couple hours up to 13 hours! Not like trains in Europe. I hope the ones in the East are better. Your trip would be much shorter.

I found a thread from someone who went by train from Greensboro to Cary to Orlando in 2016.


I have never ridden a train in the US, only Europe. Thanks for the link.

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I love that you’re thinking of the train! :heart_eyes::sunglasses::blush:

Be advised that the mainest, most basic thing to know is if you’re a type A (which generally I am) do not hesitate to avoid the train.


It’s a land cruise with all sorts and any amounts of delays possible and then some. Under no circumstances do you want to book any activity within say, oh . . . 24 hrs of your official (estimated) arrival time.

Really and truly I love train travel and will go out of my way to spend countless extra hours riding in trains. Definitely a laid back approach is best.
Along with the ability to be flexible in your plans.

Train stations are generally only staffed right before a train is due. Some stations in warmer climates haven’t even an inside. Many temporarily abandoned train stations are awesome places to park your car, completely unsecured, because trains are so beneath most folks’ radars. Some bigger city stations are in awful parts of town. :no_mouth: I generally don’t park there or on purpose go there unless I’ve started somewhere small and am switching to another train going somewhere small.

I would definitely book for Kissimmee rather than Orlando. Always. Been to both.

Train cars are different south of DC due to having to travel thru a tunnel to leave DC. Cars are one level, kinda noisy, bit more motion, however I’ve been on the Silver Star plenty.

If you’re lucky enough to travel west, the train cars are double decker, better to see the countryside, seem quieter (less track noise) and have more bathrooms.

The seats are the main difference between planes, buses, and trains - lots of legroom, seats are wider, there is a foot rest, sometimes a leg rest. Tray table. Should be electric outlets by windows - bring long cords.

Dress in layers - sometimes the [older] rolling stock has HVAC difficulties. I have a small fan with usb plug in that I bring as well as a small lightweight blanket.

I have shelled out the dough for sleeper accommodations but also have been comfortable overnight in my seat. Neck pillow helps. My niece brings eye shade and my sister brings ear plugs. Some passengers bring full size pillows and blankets. I don’t care to carry that much.

Luggage goes in racks above seats. In western trains there are luggage racks on the lower level. One brings a small duffel or back pack to the seat with your stuff, which includes snacks and a book to “read” whilst you nap or gaze mesmerized out the window at the passing scenery. Or perhaps the passing freight train what often has the right of way.

Thanks for reading this far! I’m incapable of being brief where trains are concerned.


The Amtrak site was awful when I was looking for Miami info - which is actually a decent big city station. Or was in 2017.

Where in Iowa and NM were you traveling?

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We got on in Ft. Madison (SE Iowa) and went to Raton, NM. Philmont Scout Ranch is just outside Cimarron, NM.

LOL! I am, but I have no set in stone plans the day I arrive, so I should be good. My only concern is getting to the station in Columbia since it is at a stupid time and what to do when I get back to Columbia. Actually, that one is more of a problem, since there is no way DH would be able to come pick me up if the train is on time.

Could you elaborate on this, please?

So, I will be in coach. Do you think I would be able to use my CPAP there? It’s small. Otherwise, I won’t sleep well, and probably no one else, either.

You’ve given me a ton of good information! Thanks!

Figured Raton. Perhaps this was mentioned before?

One of my earliest memories is traveling east thru the tunnel between Raton and Trinidad. I was eating ice cream from a metal dessert dish in the dining car - cloth table covering - as we went thru the tunnel. Way before Amtrak.


Yes, your times are unfortunate. How far is Columbia SC from you?
I’d monitor the train - just like planes - and leave for Columbia at an appropriate time. Your DH can do the same for the return.
You could monitor the northbound train for a few days to get a sense of its reliability. I have also called a particular train station for specific answers to questions. Maybe there’s a good local diner you can wait at as well as local transport there.
If you’re less than awed by the customer service call back another day. I think there are 3 different folks managing the Amtrak stop nearest me.

Ok, to be sure I have only been to the Orlando Amtrak station once, on a trip in 1979. Creepy. Old. Run down. In a forgotten part of town. No services - we rented from a rent a wreck as the usual rentals weren’t there. I’m sure that’s changed.
Kissimmee train station is alongside a street. There is a covered area. In 2017 - last time I was there, the station was manned. Taxis were waiting for the train. We used car services. It’s more like a commuter station. With barely any parking. We’ve used Kissimmee several times, from 1994 to 2017.

I think you could use your cpap at your seat. Are you traveling solo?

No, I had only said Boy Scouts to NM. You’d have to be familiar with Scouting to know about Philmont. In the summer months, they do week-long adult leader training, with activities for the whole family. We drove there several times, as part of a family vacation. Also in the summer, they have groups of Scouts arriving and departing every day to do treks in the mountains. Many use the train, so Philmont runs shuttle buses (school buses) between Philmont and Raton several times each day.

The last time I was there, my son and I were part of a group of 36 from our area, doing a 10- or 12-day trek. It was not fun to wait at the Raton station for a train that was 8 hours late, trying to keep the teens coralled with only vending machines (and a couple nearby gas stations). That train had problems with one of the three engines, so our speed was much slower than normal. We arrived 13 hours late in Iowa.

One of my early memories of train travel was doing a solo trip at age 8, from Iowa City to Grinnell (maybe 1.5 hrs) to visit grandparents. I still have the ticket!

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Thank you for your answers. I am traveling solo.

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Or familiar with Raton. :blush:

The Raton train station is in a boring part of town for certain.

One Thanksgiving I decided at the last minute to take Amtrak to Raton from central Missouri, based on the then current track of winter storms. This was late 80s, so plenty of room for 4 coach travellers last minute.

Big storm across Kansas and Nebraska. Airports closed, across Kansas the interstate is visable and we could see stopped cars. Amtrak kept going. We did stop in maybe La Junta for an extra engine “for the pass” which promptly froze up, causing even more difficulties for the original two engines.

Our 12 hour journey took 24 but we got a free steak dinner, and twice the time on the train.
One train personnel said there were 500 passengers on the train and only 2 really cranky crabby folks. The rest of us were happy to be mostly moving.


Two-hour drive. The waiting area is only open until 5:45 am when I get in at 4 am. Gregg coming down that early won’t be a thing.

Maybe you could park at someplace better in Columbia (airport, a friend?) then take Uber/Lyft/taxi to/from the train station.

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You’ll likely have a seat mate. And likely be on the aisle. Unless it’s a low rider day.

You can call Amtrak - I like to call late, like after 9 pm - and chat up a person about electric service at seats. Sometimes Congress appropriates money. There might be an outlet at each seat. Last few trips I’ve seen double outlets on the wall under the window. You probably have a battery?

Most of the “comfort” hacks I know are for double decker western trains.

However, if the observation car is open (not closed cuz of covid) solo folks do spend the night there. Your seat will likely be by itself. The overhead light will be on likely. The observation seat may not be as comfy as a coach seat.

Since you’re boarding late, after lights out, the car attendant will likely give you a seat number outside the car. You’ll board, find your seat, stow your luggage and proceed to make your nest. After the train is moving, someone - car attendant or conductor - will put a strip of cardstock or some similar marker over your seat to alert Amtrak personnel when you’ll be leaving the train.

I think the eastern trains use a different marking system but I’m not sure. In the western trains it’s a strip of card stock with the 3 station letters on it.

Background: there are two sets of personnel on the train. Some stay with the train from terminal to terminal - car attendants and food service are these folk. Others are on a shift - working a set number of hours; these would be engineer, conductor, etc. If the train is not at the station at which these folk leave the train and where their reliefs board, the train must stop where it’s at and wait for reinforcements.

Things change all the time. I like to call for answers. Usually have nice chats.

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I am going to attempt to get handicapped seating near the bathroom. I’ll be traveling with my walker.


Excellent! That looks like a new car. :blush:

That’d be great!

Except that seat looks more aircraft seat. And no foot rest. :neutral_face:

Definitely pursue handicap opportunities. They’re usually available up to the last minute.

Well, I don’t know that that is the train I’ll be on. We’ll see. Columbia is downtown near the state house and college. I think it’s an okay neighborhood. If I could find good transportation from where I am to Columbia (and back), I might be inclined to do that. We only have one car, so if I drive it and leave it there, DH won’t have a car. I’m sure we can work it out.