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Old 01-28-2013, 03:23 AM   #1936
j16m44
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Taking the AutoTrain for the 1st time this Sat. We only have coach seats bc we booked it just the other day as this was a last minute trip to Disney. I just have a few questions. Is the family car usually close to the lounge car? I'm sure we'll get put there since we have 3 small kids. Also, how do you think the traffic will be on a Saturday getting to the Lorton station? We live in PA about 3 1/2 hours away. I'm not sure if I want to head down Fri night to play it safe. I'm keeping my eye on the weather too just in case. We are so excited. We usually drive down every year but I really wanted to try this out. I love the road trip too but maybe this will be our new way to go.
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Old 01-28-2013, 08:37 AM   #1937
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Originally Posted by j16m44 View Post
Taking the AutoTrain for the 1st time this Sat. We only have coach seats bc we booked it just the other day as this was a last minute trip to Disney. I just have a few questions. Is the family car usually close to the lounge car? I'm sure we'll get put there since we have 3 small kids. Also, how do you think the traffic will be on a Saturday getting to the Lorton station? We live in PA about 3 1/2 hours away. I'm not sure if I want to head down Fri night to play it safe. I'm keeping my eye on the weather too just in case. We are so excited. We usually drive down every year but I really wanted to try this out. I love the road trip too but maybe this will be our new way to go.
Under normal conditions, you could leave at 9am in PA and arrive in Lorton by 12:30pm, in plenty of time for early pre-boarding (get assigned seats, choose early dinner seating, etc).

We usually check in around 1pm in Lorton (and check in around 2pm at Sanford since we spend extra time in WDW that morning).

However, definitely pay attention to weather in case you need to stay Friday night. Also, if you do stay Friday night, you can have a leisurely morning, go to Potomac Mills mall and not worry about making it on time. However, that is an added expense.

Finally, if it's in your budget and you get to the station early, you can ask them if any Family Rooms have opened up. You never know when people cancel.

Good luck!
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Old 01-28-2013, 01:13 PM   #1938
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Thanks. I keep watching the weather to see. If there is even a slight chance of snow we will head down Fri night. And if we go Sat morning I plan to leave really early and check in early and then do some shopping, etc and then get back to the station to check in the van before 2pm. I've thought about a bedroom etc but I think the kids should do fine in coach since they do fine w/ the car ride down during the night and we'll have plenty of things to keep them entertained and I'm not worried about sleep bc we don't plan on hitting any parks until Monday bc we get a house off property for the extra room, private pool, etc. Thanks again. We are so excited. Too bad I have lots to do before then. I don't even know if any of the kids need new clothes. LOL!!
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Old 01-31-2013, 03:47 PM   #1939
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Here's a question for all of you. I messed up and didn't realize that the rest of my group is leaving from Sanford airport instead of Orlando. Which means that, assuming they need to be at the airport 2 hours early, we need to drop them off by 9:30. Assuming we don't need to be at the Autotrain until 1:30ish, that gives us roughly 4 hours to make the 20ish minute drive from the airport to the train station. Is there enough in the Sanford area to keep 2 small children relatively entertained for this time? I was also thinking about just renting a car for those that need to get to the airport and taking the kids to a Disney park for a few hours after we drop them at the car rental place. Any other suggestions? As much as I would love to, I don't think it makes much sense for us to drop people at the airport, head back to a Disney park for an hour, then go back to Sanford for the AT.
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Old 01-31-2013, 04:34 PM   #1940
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There is a very big mall right off the autotrain exit from I4. It's called Seminole Town Ctr It would b a place to just let the kids walk and burn off energy. As you approach the exit for the auto train from I4 east you can see the mall on the right. The entrance is the the right after you turn right towards the auto train from the highway. It is off of Town Ctr bvld.

Not sure when you are going but we found an awesome playground in historic Sanford. It is probably 15 mins from the station. They have a huge splash pad, pool (I think) and many playscapes. It overlooks the water. There are picnic pavilions to have a bit to eat, parking is right alongside the park. To get to the park just continue on W 1st st (rt 40) from I4. You will go over a bridge, auto train tracks run under the bridge. You will see a right turn to bring you to the station but continue straight-- don't turn. W 1st St will turn into E 1st St. There are many quaint shops along the road. Just continue straight and you will see the park on your left. It is called Fort Mellon Park. We take a left just past the park and then another left and park alongside the water. They have big bench swings that over look the water too. There are restrooms available too. We grab lunch before heading to the park. It's a really nice way to burn off energy. Just be aware there is no shade for the playscapes. It is rather brutally hot in the August sun.

I hope this helps. We just happened to stumble upon it a few years ago. We have yet checked out the mall.
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Old 02-02-2013, 02:27 PM   #1941
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This time next week we'll be boarding the train...
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Old 02-09-2013, 07:45 PM   #1942
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Last night I decided to check again to see what the rates would be for our April trip just in case dh decides he does want to try AT. Well, did I ever get a shock!

On the way down, the superliner br is $307 and the family br is $360, pretty much what I had been seeing. But for the way back, the superliner br is $699 and the family br is $855! That has to be the highest number I've seen since I started looking.

Coach seats on the way down are $200 but on the way back they are $490!

Round trip using the family bedroom both ways came to $1,821 after applying the AAA discount.

I'm not even going to consider AT for this trip now. Dh won't hear me mention it to him again!
April is when the SnowBirds are coming home for the summer. They need to get all the train cars down to Sanford to bring them and their cars all home. The lower price going south is to try to fill the train as much as possible for the trip down. The price for a large vehicle on the way down is the same as for a regular size vehicle too because they need to take the train cars for the vehicles whether they are full or not, so no upcharge for size on the way down.

We are going in April, too, but will be taking the AutoTrain down, but driving back. We get a bedroom sleeper car. The cost with AAA discount is $662 on the way down, but would be over $1300 on the way back. Round trip would be over $2000!!!!!! October & November are the opposite for prices, since that is when the SnowBirds are heading south. In Fall we drive down & take the AutoTrain back. Other times of the year are more evened out pricewise.

Just booked our trip down today. Discover card had a special of 2% cashback on purchases made today. I signed up for it last week & got an e-mail reminder yesterday. That was an easy $13.24 bonus.
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Old 02-09-2013, 08:36 PM   #1943
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We have done that also in April - autotrain down and drove home. We once drove home on Palm Sunday weekend and hit a TON of traffic.

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Old 02-10-2013, 11:09 AM   #1944
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We have done that also in April - autotrain down and drove home. We once drove home on Palm Sunday weekend and hit a TON of traffic.

Linda
Yep, you DO have to watch your calendar for Holidays. We went on a cruise in May and it ended on Memorial Day weekend. We stayed in Florida for a few extra days. We are going on a cruise over Thanksgiving this year & are staying till Monday. I will NOT drive home to PA over a holiday or holiday weekend.

Taking the train in the middle of the week is sometimes cheaper, too. If you are a bit flexible with your dates, you should check the days before and after when you wanted to leave to see if there is a price difference.
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Old 02-12-2013, 11:47 AM   #1945
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Question Departure Day - Time for Parks?

Hi AutoTrain Vets!

Question for you: What do you plan to do on the day you depart for the train home? Is there enough time to go into the parks for a few hours? Or do you just sleep in, pack up, have lunch somewhere and then head to the train? We'll be departing from BLT, so I'm wondering if there's time to hit the MK for a few last rides or shopping before going back for the van & driving to the station. What time to you leave Orlando (how early to you get to the station?)?

Thanks in advance for any replies!!
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Old 02-12-2013, 12:43 PM   #1946
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Hi AutoTrain Vets!

Question for you: What do you plan to do on the day you depart for the train home? Is there enough time to go into the parks for a few hours? Or do you just sleep in, pack up, have lunch somewhere and then head to the train? We'll be departing from BLT, so I'm wondering if there's time to hit the MK for a few last rides or shopping before going back for the van & driving to the station. What time to you leave Orlando (how early to you get to the station?)?

Thanks in advance for any replies!!
I'm curious as well. I added an 8th day to our tickets with the thought that we would go to at least two parks on the day we leave (we figure, ride one or two rides and grab some snacks). But what are the thoughts of the vets?
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Old 02-12-2013, 02:20 PM   #1947
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KSL
Hi AutoTrain Vets!

Question for you: What do you plan to do on the day you depart for the train home? Is there enough time to go into the parks for a few hours? Or do you just sleep in, pack up, have lunch somewhere and then head to the train? We'll be departing from BLT, so I'm wondering if there's time to hit the MK for a few last rides or shopping before going back for the van & driving to the station. What time to you leave Orlando (how early to you get to the station?)?

Thanks in advance for any replies!!
Yep! We leave a park or DTD at 12-1pm, get gas and lunch to go and drive to Sanford...about 45min to one hour away.
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Old 02-12-2013, 02:24 PM   #1948
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Yep! We leave a park or DTD at 12-1pm, get gas and lunch to go and drive to Sanford...about 45min to one hour away.
This would have been our plan if our trip home wasn't canceled. If get lunch to go you can check in early, avoid the rush, get your preferred dinner time and sit and eat while everyone else sits in line waiting to check in.
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Old 02-15-2013, 01:55 PM   #1949
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This would have been our plan if our trip home wasn't canceled. If get lunch to go you can check in early, avoid the rush, get your preferred dinner time and sit and eat while everyone else sits in line waiting to check in.
Last year we had 1 more table service credit. So we went shopping @ DTD until about noon. Then we got our lunch to go from Pollo Campero/Fresh-a-Peel. We checked-in around 1 and ate our lunch while we waited. We wanted to go to Earl of Sandwich but the line was ridiculous.
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Old 02-15-2013, 01:58 PM   #1950
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Family Bedroom Tips

We have always traveled coach on our previous AT trips. I decided to splurge this year on our return trip and get a family bedroom. Does anyone have any tips or suggestions for the family bedroom? Are there any request I should make, like room location?
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