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Old 06-14-2011, 01:16 PM   #1
kittylady1972
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Smile ALL ABOARD our June 2011 T/R! Autotrain, heat & lines oh MY! (12/05/11 Update)

NOTE:What started out as a LIVE trip report at first, has now evolved into a regular trip report that I'm still catching up on. This was my first "LIVE" post...but beyond that I am still catching up with the details of our trip!

After a very busy day yesterday and morning we have finally started our vacation...and thus the trip report! Will do my best to post some live updates as I can...but pictures may be slow at first.

Our oldest son had his promotion ceremony at 9am this morning. No more elementary school for him. It ended around 10:30am, we gathered our other two children from school (who were also invited to attend the ceremony to our surprise) and by 11am we were packing the remaining things for our trip, on the road before noon, stopped at Burger King for lunch!

Travel time from our house to the Autotrain station was about an hour and thankfully we encountered very little traffic. We were checking into the station just after 1pm...and here we are now!

Kids are impatient...we start boarding in about 15 minutes so I'll wrap it up for now!
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THE FUTURE: Nov. '14: Thanksgiving with Mickey * Oct. '15 FANTASY Cruise

The past:*Sep '14: SOG*Jan'14: DCL MAGIC*Sep/Oct'13 DCL WONDER*Aug'13:DLR*Jan'13: POP/SSR*Nov'12:VWL/DCL DREAM/THV*Jun'12:SWAN * Mar '12:BDWLK * Jun'11:BLT * Dec'09:SSR * May'09:BC&AKV *Oct'08:BCVDINING REPORT*Jun'08:POP* Nov'07:OKW&SSR*Oct'06:AKL*Jan '06:CR*Feb'04:BDWLK *Oct'03:POLY*Sep'01:CR*Oct'99:POR*Feb'97:ASM

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Old 06-14-2011, 06:59 PM   #2
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Quick phone update as Internet Access from my phone is slow and spotty at best. So far. So good. Getting on board was very smooth as you enter in your own car. Doesn't seem too crowded...several empty rooms. We played cards and dice games in the lounge for a while and had some free wine! Dinner was pretty good...no food porn but we had salad, bread, steak, veggies and baked potato. Dessert for me was a pretty good piece of chocolate cake with ice cream. Oh and MORE free wine! Others had cheesecake. The movie tonight is the J. Bieber one so we passed. We are all currently in larger bedroom watching Mulan on the netbook. After this they will convert our rooms to beds and we will see how we sleep with the rocking motion and some creaking. Arrival time is about 9:30am and then another 45 mins or so to Disney. Oh and wanted to mention people here (other travelers and staff) all are quite friendly, though the group of 6 or 7 drinking in the lounge may get interesting later...but we won't be there.
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THE FUTURE: Nov. '14: Thanksgiving with Mickey * Oct. '15 FANTASY Cruise

The past:*Sep '14: SOG*Jan'14: DCL MAGIC*Sep/Oct'13 DCL WONDER*Aug'13:DLR*Jan'13: POP/SSR*Nov'12:VWL/DCL DREAM/THV*Jun'12:SWAN * Mar '12:BDWLK * Jun'11:BLT * Dec'09:SSR * May'09:BC&AKV *Oct'08:BCVDINING REPORT*Jun'08:POP* Nov'07:OKW&SSR*Oct'06:AKL*Jan '06:CR*Feb'04:BDWLK *Oct'03:POLY*Sep'01:CR*Oct'99:POR*Feb'97:ASM
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Old 06-14-2011, 08:11 PM   #3
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I'm first, I'm first!! I love live TR's (hello neighbor - I'm from VA ) I would love to travel the Autotrain sometime - can't wait to find out out how you slept.
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Old 06-14-2011, 09:09 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heaven2dc View Post
I'm first, I'm first!! I love live TR's (hello neighbor - I'm from VA ) I would love to travel the Autotrain sometime - can't wait to find out out how you slept.
Welcome aboard!! This is our first Autotrain experience so will let you know how it goes. Gonna try for some sleep now!
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THE FUTURE: Nov. '14: Thanksgiving with Mickey * Oct. '15 FANTASY Cruise

The past:*Sep '14: SOG*Jan'14: DCL MAGIC*Sep/Oct'13 DCL WONDER*Aug'13:DLR*Jan'13: POP/SSR*Nov'12:VWL/DCL DREAM/THV*Jun'12:SWAN * Mar '12:BDWLK * Jun'11:BLT * Dec'09:SSR * May'09:BC&AKV *Oct'08:BCVDINING REPORT*Jun'08:POP* Nov'07:OKW&SSR*Oct'06:AKL*Jan '06:CR*Feb'04:BDWLK *Oct'03:POLY*Sep'01:CR*Oct'99:POR*Feb'97:ASM
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Old 06-15-2011, 05:24 AM   #5
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It is just after 6am and I am in the top 'bunk' in our roomette. DS11 is playing his DS and watching the scenery out the window, giving me reports. Slept pretty well last night. Woke at 1am or so and had to go to the next car for the restroom...no biggie. Very quiet in halls. Woke again around 4:30am and 5:30am. Total of about 6 hours sleep...not bad. Hungry now. Might get up and try to get dressed.
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THE FUTURE: Nov. '14: Thanksgiving with Mickey * Oct. '15 FANTASY Cruise

The past:*Sep '14: SOG*Jan'14: DCL MAGIC*Sep/Oct'13 DCL WONDER*Aug'13:DLR*Jan'13: POP/SSR*Nov'12:VWL/DCL DREAM/THV*Jun'12:SWAN * Mar '12:BDWLK * Jun'11:BLT * Dec'09:SSR * May'09:BC&AKV *Oct'08:BCVDINING REPORT*Jun'08:POP* Nov'07:OKW&SSR*Oct'06:AKL*Jan '06:CR*Feb'04:BDWLK *Oct'03:POLY*Sep'01:CR*Oct'99:POR*Feb'97:ASM
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Old 06-15-2011, 11:21 PM   #6
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Glad you were able to get some rest - you should be in Florida now and maybe at WDW? So excited to hear more!
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Old 06-16-2011, 01:22 PM   #7
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Hey! Would love to hear more about the autotrain. Hope you got to Disney OK and are having an amazing time!
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Old 06-28-2011, 09:00 AM   #8
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Sorry all for the delay in posting here. I had hoped to do more live updates but it just didn't happen. I did keep a journal update of our trip so I plan to give a full trip report here very soon!

Autotrain was really great though and we would definitely do it again. We're hoping to book it for our next trip in November of 2012...both ways this time!

Check-in was very simple and the friendly Amtrak staff made it even better.

We drove to Lorton from our home in Maryland on Tuesday afternoon. We hit very little traffic in the Northern VA area...so we arrived close to 1pm and our deadline was 2pm for checking in our oversized vehicle. We found the station easily:


drove up to the gate, they gave us our car number and directed us.



We got out and got the stuff we wanted from the car and they ran around and videotaped both inside and outside of our vehicle as we unloaded our overnight stuff.

Inside we checked in at a desk and when they learned we had accommodations on the upper and lower section of the car they worked to get us at least on the same floor...top of the car...so that was nice.

Watching cars being loaded:


Our train:




We then waited in the station.




I think we were allowed to board the train at 2:30pm. When the time came, we expected some kind of formal announcement...which didn't happen. We just walked outside of the station to the train when we saw other people wandering out...then we had to find our car as you board based on your car number.

It was a little confusing...we started walking down in one direction...then thought we missed it...then started to backtrack and then realized I think it was odd cars first then even and not in all numerical order. Once we got that we found our car and waiting with a small group. Our car attendant came outside, checked our tickets, and directed us which way to go once we were onboard.

We found the rooms easily. DH and the 2 little kids had a Superliner Bedroom at the top of the stairs to the left.

Superliner Bedroom:


Inside bedroom, looking towards door (daughter coming inside). Curtain for privacy, sliding door that locks, storage to the right. To the left is the small sink with mirror and trash area.


Myself and DS 11 had a roomette at the top of the steps and to the right.

Roomette photo:


We spent a lot of time in the Superliner Bedroom as there was plenty of room for all of us to sit in there and not so much in the roomette. The attendant came and introduced himself to us and asked when we'd like the room converted to beds. We let him know 9pm and then he told us about the 3pm wine and cheese reception in the lounge car...so we headed there.

We got some sodas for the kids (which were NOT free...didn't know that at first) and the wine for us (free) and some cheese and fruit and veggies and snacks. We found a small booth that held all five of us and sat and played some cards and dice games as we rolled down the tracks.

Inside the lounge:


The lounge is on the top floor, however to get to the restrooms in the lounge car you have to go downstairs. There was a nice little area down here with two large tables facing each other and a tv screen above it. The bathrooms are behind this seating area:


Eventually our 5pm dinnertime came and we headed to the dining car. We were all able to sit at one booth with three kids squeezed on one side. The kids were not required to order off the kids menu, which was good as my DD 8 wanted the tenderloin beef and not the chicken nuggets/mac-n-cheese kids meal. Dinner was pretty good...not GREAT but not too bad. Our dining car attendant told the kids that the size of the dessert that got depended on how many veggies they ate with their meal. DS 11 took this seriously and tried his best to eat some veggies...green beans which were very fresh and not the limp canned kind that we usually like...but he did good.

Dining car:


(as you can see, three small kids can sit in the bench...but barely!)

Dessert was good...I think I had chocolate cake with ice cream, kids had sundaes and we had some cheesecake too. You can see Noah with his dessert here, staring at the scenery:


Then we retreated back to the Superliner Bedroom.

The movie of the night was the Justin Bieber movie and nobody really had a desire to see that except maybe DD 8 and even then she wasn't very enthusiastic. Apparently the movie is just shown in the lounge car on small screens there. The lounge car attendant actually told my DH that the best place to watch was on the lower level as there was a larger booth there, it wasn't as crowded and we could have all been seated there and it would be much quieter. The problem is that the lower lounge area is right near the smoking section of that car and the bathroom...so not really the best place to be overall. We opted instead to watch a movie on the netbook that I had brought with me in the larger bedroom instead.



Kids watched the movie and played with the DS systems and we hung out in the room for about another hour and a half. When the movie ended around 8pm, DH decided he'd get the attendant to turn the beds down earlier. So DS 11 and I retreated to our roomette while they all went to bed.

We had our room turned down not too much later and we waited in the car while that was done...not too long at all. Then we got into our PJs and got ready for sleeping!

I gave DS 11 the bottom bunk and I took the top. Here is his sleeping area:


The small space did not bother me. It was a bit tough to climb up the steps and get into the space though...you do require a little bit of agility and balance and flexibility. I got a solid four hours of sleep in at first, waking up around 1am and needing to use the restroom.

(top sleeping area


I walked out of our room and to the end of the car where the bathroom was but since it was a once stall (think an airplane restroom) and there was somebody in it already. I waited outside for a minute or two but it was clear they were going to be longer. So my choice was to walk to the next train car and try that one...which I did. Luckily that one was empty and I was in and out and back in no time.

I got another 3 hours of sleep afterwards, woke up for a little bit, then got another hour in before finally being up for good around 6:30am or so. DS 11 was also awake so we hung out in his bed watching the world go by for a bit. Soon we heard the announcement outside our room that breakfast was being served and the rest of the family was dressed and at our roomette waiting to go. I was going to walk down and get dressed in the bigger bedroom but by the time I got there the attendant was already in their room making it back up and putting away the beds. Ok then...got changed in the bathroom instead!

Breakfast was just some muffins, cereal and toast and bread with juice and milk and coffee. I think I had part of a muffin and the kids had cereal. Again we were seated together. After that we went back to our respective rooms to wait until it was time to get off the train.

We arrived in Sanford around 9:30am but had to spend some time waiting in our room until we could get off the train. Since the Sanford station is so small it does not fit the entire train on one side of the station. So they have to uncouple the auto cars and half of the passenger cars and move them and when that's done we can get off the train. We watched some of the moving of the cars from our room.

Sanford station:


Finally we were off the train and in the station. They announced when they'd start unloading cars and they announced your vehicle by the number they gave you, letting us know it could take as long as an hour and 15 minutes I think to get the last car off. Everybody waited inside and outside and we watched them unload the cars, calling off numbers, parking the cars next to the station and people just walked over, got in and drove off. Again, it was all very orderly and organized and we waited somewhere between 20 - 30 minutes for our car to be unloaded.





I have more photos of our train experience, and some video, but if you have questions don't hesitate to ask!
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THE FUTURE: Nov. '14: Thanksgiving with Mickey * Oct. '15 FANTASY Cruise

The past:*Sep '14: SOG*Jan'14: DCL MAGIC*Sep/Oct'13 DCL WONDER*Aug'13:DLR*Jan'13: POP/SSR*Nov'12:VWL/DCL DREAM/THV*Jun'12:SWAN * Mar '12:BDWLK * Jun'11:BLT * Dec'09:SSR * May'09:BC&AKV *Oct'08:BCVDINING REPORT*Jun'08:POP* Nov'07:OKW&SSR*Oct'06:AKL*Jan '06:CR*Feb'04:BDWLK *Oct'03:POLY*Sep'01:CR*Oct'99:POR*Feb'97:ASM

Last edited by kittylady1972; 07-01-2011 at 12:51 PM.
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Old 06-28-2011, 09:50 AM   #9
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Can't wait to hear all about your trip!
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Old 07-01-2011, 12:52 PM   #10
kittylady1972
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Ok, just updated my Autotrain post with LOTS of photos! Enjoy!

Gonna take me several days to get other photos organized and up and start writing up my report since I want to include the photos!
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THE FUTURE: Nov. '14: Thanksgiving with Mickey * Oct. '15 FANTASY Cruise

The past:*Sep '14: SOG*Jan'14: DCL MAGIC*Sep/Oct'13 DCL WONDER*Aug'13:DLR*Jan'13: POP/SSR*Nov'12:VWL/DCL DREAM/THV*Jun'12:SWAN * Mar '12:BDWLK * Jun'11:BLT * Dec'09:SSR * May'09:BC&AKV *Oct'08:BCVDINING REPORT*Jun'08:POP* Nov'07:OKW&SSR*Oct'06:AKL*Jan '06:CR*Feb'04:BDWLK *Oct'03:POLY*Sep'01:CR*Oct'99:POR*Feb'97:ASM
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Old 07-01-2011, 01:10 PM   #11
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June 15th (DAY TWO) - Arrival Day
We were on our way to our resort by 10am or so and arrived close to 10:45am. Love this sight:



We headed to the Contemporary to check-in and our room was not ready...surprise! While there, I was checking to see where the rest of our party would be as they would check in the next day. Our rooms were on the same floor but different areas. I tried to get them moved closer together...but had no luck. Oh well, floor would be fine. We were on the 7th floor (2 above the walkway) and on the far end...room 7704. If you are facing BLT with your back to MK, our room would be on the far left...almost at the end. So sitting out on our balcony we had this view but just looking to the left:



Anyway, since we had time to kill and breakfast on the train was not much, we decided to head to Downtown Disney for lunch. I did not tell the kids where we were eating, wanted it to be a surprise!

Our reservation at T-Rex was not until 12:30pm but we arrived just before 11:30am. We were seated right away...don't know the area but we had a view of the ice caves in front of us and the marine area to left and were looking at the wooly mammoth (elephant) and another dinosaur to our left.

(Ok, I have just been notified that the power in our building is about to be shut down..and been told to go home and have a nice early holiday weekend...so to be continued....)

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THE FUTURE: Nov. '14: Thanksgiving with Mickey * Oct. '15 FANTASY Cruise

The past:*Sep '14: SOG*Jan'14: DCL MAGIC*Sep/Oct'13 DCL WONDER*Aug'13:DLR*Jan'13: POP/SSR*Nov'12:VWL/DCL DREAM/THV*Jun'12:SWAN * Mar '12:BDWLK * Jun'11:BLT * Dec'09:SSR * May'09:BC&AKV *Oct'08:BCVDINING REPORT*Jun'08:POP* Nov'07:OKW&SSR*Oct'06:AKL*Jan '06:CR*Feb'04:BDWLK *Oct'03:POLY*Sep'01:CR*Oct'99:POR*Feb'97:ASM

Last edited by kittylady1972; 07-27-2011 at 04:09 PM.
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Old 07-01-2011, 02:39 PM   #12
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Hi there!

Found your report and have joined in!

It sounds so interesting to be in a train and to be able to have your car with you. It seems as if you didn't have a bad experience with it, either!

Looking forward to reading more.
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Old 07-01-2011, 03:47 PM   #13
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Thanks for the great report about the Autotrain! We're taking it for the first time in August, and excited to see what it's like. We didn't get rooms though, it'll be interesting to see how comfortable (or not) the seats are for sleeping in.

My biggest concern has been what time we're going to arrive and get going, but nice to see that you made it to Downtown Disney by 11:30, my hope has been that we'll get to MK by noon, so I'm optimistic.

Any negatives about the Autotrain? Any tips? (We're traveling w/4 adults, no kids)
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Old 07-06-2011, 11:43 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kdka421 View Post
Thanks for the great report about the Autotrain! We're taking it for the first time in August, and excited to see what it's like. We didn't get rooms though, it'll be interesting to see how comfortable (or not) the seats are for sleeping in.

My biggest concern has been what time we're going to arrive and get going, but nice to see that you made it to Downtown Disney by 11:30, my hope has been that we'll get to MK by noon, so I'm optimistic.

Any negatives about the Autotrain? Any tips? (We're traveling w/4 adults, no kids)
Yeah I wish I could share with you about the coach seats...we never saw them. However my husband did comment that he saw the people getting out of that section of the train and they were looking ROUGH! I *THINK* we would have been okay...but you never know!

Oh you should be able to make it to MK by noon for sure. We were passing through the gates of MK by 10:33am and it took about 20 minutes or so before our vehicle was unloaded.

Negatives? Hmmm...I think since it is all adults you will be fine and I think it will depend on how crowded the train is during your travel time. I think most of the roomettes in our car were empty so it was pretty quiet. It also made it easier for us to find a nice seating area in the lounge because I suspect if the train had been packed that may have been harder...or maybe they add more lounge cars? Keep in mind that breakfast is really really light...just cereal and muffins and not much of a selection so you may want to eat as soon as you get to your resort or the park...we were very hungry! Most of my tips would center around the rooms themselves so I can't offer very much I'm afraid.

Hope you enjoy it!
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THE FUTURE: Nov. '14: Thanksgiving with Mickey * Oct. '15 FANTASY Cruise

The past:*Sep '14: SOG*Jan'14: DCL MAGIC*Sep/Oct'13 DCL WONDER*Aug'13:DLR*Jan'13: POP/SSR*Nov'12:VWL/DCL DREAM/THV*Jun'12:SWAN * Mar '12:BDWLK * Jun'11:BLT * Dec'09:SSR * May'09:BC&AKV *Oct'08:BCVDINING REPORT*Jun'08:POP* Nov'07:OKW&SSR*Oct'06:AKL*Jan '06:CR*Feb'04:BDWLK *Oct'03:POLY*Sep'01:CR*Oct'99:POR*Feb'97:ASM
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