Universal Orlando Resort and Orlando’s Right Rail coalition announced plans to create a community development district that will “plan, finance and operate” a SunRail station at the Orange County Convention Center. Though no timetables have been set, a passenger rail connecting Orlando International Airport and the International Drive tourist area looks far closer than before.
This project differs from Brightline, which will eventually run a high-speed train from Miami to Orlando and Tampa. Currently, a proposed route for that train line will run near Universal’s Epic Universe and Orlando International Airport. The SunRail project involves a local train route in the Orlando area.
The Shingle Creek Transit Utility Community Development District would create a commuter line between the Orlando International Airport and the Orange County Convention Center. This project, known as the Sunshine Corridor, would also connect passengers to the Brightline system.
“We are one step closer to creating a multi-directional commuter rail system that benefits our entire region,” Universal Parks & Resorts executive vice president John Sprouls said in a statement. “The new SunRail corridor and convention center station will make it easier for residents to get to work, the airport and to the places they love. And it will enable business growth within the International Drive area and across the region.”
Universal Orlando Resort pledged 13 acres of land for the convention center station for this plan and says it will support up to $125 million in bond financing to fund the project. In partnership with Orlando’s Right Rail coalition, Universal Orlando Resort plans to contribute and support the district’s annual ticket sales to guarantee $13 million yearly. That $13 million number is the estimated yearly amount needed to operate this new train route.
Universal Orlando Resort’s interest in this project remains clear. The new Sunshine Corridor line involves a stop at the Orange County Convention Center. The convention center station would also be near the site of Universal’s upcoming theme park, Universal’s Epic Universe. This would aid guests wishing to visit that theme park and the rest of Universal Orlando Resort. However, additional transportation would be needed from the proposed rail station. Based on marketing and surveys Universal Orlando has been conducting, logic dictates they have plans to solve that for people wishing to pay to visit their resort.
This is Great News, But…
Before Universal Orlando visitors proclaim this announcement as perfect, a few details should be mentioned. One, SunRail currently only runs on weekdays and non-holidays. Will this change with his new route? Will this new route only happen on weekdays? If all the SunRail lines run on weekends, what will be the cost to passengers in the long term? Will it still be cost-effective?
Another critical variable some overlook with his fantastic announcement involves a timetable. How long will it take to construct brand-new infrastructure and track for this route? Will we see this in five years? Do you think it will take longer? We are talking about local government systems, so even good ideas take a long time to execute.
In addition, the chances of this proposal changing are likely based on the history of rail travel in the Orlando area in recent years. Though this should be seen as good news to all Orlando area theme park fans, things could change.
If this rail system happens as proposed, will you be utilizing it? Are you surprised that another train system proposal will benefit Universal Orlando more than Walt Disney World? Let us know in the comments.
Pirates & Princesses (PNP) is an independent, opinionated fan-powered news blog that covers Disney and Universal Theme Parks, Themed Entertainment and related Pop Culture from a consumer's point of view. Opinions expressed by our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of PNP, its editors, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. PNP is an unofficial news source and has no connection to The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal or any other company that we may cover.