Amtrak - Auto Train help, please!

Discussion in 'Budget Board' started by keerymom, Mar 26, 2011.

  1. keerymom

    keerymom <font color=navy>Secretly has the hots for Ryan Su

    Apr 3, 2004
    Hi everyone,

    My family and I are considering taking the Amtrak Auto Train from Lorton, Va to Sanford, FL and back this July. There is certainly a lot to consider with this option and I'm not sure that the savings would justify it in the end. We would still have to drive approximately 7 hours just to reach Virginia and we'd end up losing a full day of our vacation.

    Do any of you have any experience with the Auto Train? If so, could you advise me of the pros and cons?

    As always, thanks my disfriends!!
  2. camikey

    camikey Mouseketeer

    Nov 10, 2010
    I took the autotrain last year and will again this year. I really liked it. It is myself and my DD(4). Last year I took it and then went to Sarasota for 10 days. I packed my car to the top and didn't have to worry. This year we are going down early for our cruise and then after to Sarasota. Again I can take as much as I want. Also I do not need to rent a car.

    I arrived right at 11 in VA. Many people got there as late as 2. The only real advantage was gettting early seating. I will shoot for 12:30 - 1 PM this year. I got a small roomette because I wanted to be sure my DD slept. It was very small, but it was only one night. We watched her DVD while we waited for dinner. Dinner was okay. The choices were the same going down and coming back. There is a wine & cheese snack at 4 when we pulled out.

    They have a movie in the lounge at 7. We didn't make it because DD fell asleep.

    We got to FL at about 8:30 and were on our way by 9:30. It does take a while for them to get the vehicles unloaded. Coming back we got in at 7:30 and had to sit on the train until the people showed up to work to get us unloaded.

    The waiting area in VA was nice. There was an outside play area, but it was metal and too hot to play on. She was able to play there when we came back and waiting for our car.

    The area in Sanford was being remodeled so it was tight. That should be completed by now.

    If you are not getting a roomette I would bring pillows and blankets. People I met were doing that. Also someone said that it was really noisey in the coach area. They said that they asked if there was a quieter area and were showed an area that was empty. I guess it depends how full the train is.

    Let me know if you had more specific questions. I hope this helps.
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  4. justwinnie

    justwinnie DIS Veteran

    Apr 30, 2006
    There's a great thread on the Transportation board. There are current posts- even a coupon code for the summer!

    I've been researching the Autotrain for a while, but constantly on the fence!
  5. torinsmom

    torinsmom <font color=red>I have someone coming to scoop<br>

    Apr 7, 2004
    I went to that thread, but didn't see a code except for the one for kids to ride for $19. Is that the one you're talking about or is there a different one? My DS is 16, so I know the kid one wouldn't save us any money.
  6. Cleocat

    Cleocat Mouseketeer

    Sep 12, 2009
    I totally agree with Camikey. We have traveled the autotrain twice now. Have stayed in roomettes and bedrooms. Prefer bedrooms but a bit pricey roomettes work just fine for privacy when you're done with dinner or just mingling. It is much less stress than flying. At some points it is probably cheaper than flying and renting a car in florida. What is nice as said before you can pack your car full, and will have room for souveneirs bought and not have to worry how you're going to get them home. Also the the staff is very professional and courteous throughout the trip. Also for Camikey we were in the Sanford station in late Nov. it's waiting area is near completion but there was still alot of constuction going on.
    I highly recommend the autotrain to all my friends as a alternate way to travel to florida. Also an extra note if you are a smoker they have a smoking lounge onboard it's located in the lower part of the lounge car, if you worried you don't smell the smoke in anyway in the upper part of the car. This is one reason my wife likes the train, no more quick smokes before boarding the plane and worrying if she'll make it back in time.
  7. karice2

    karice2 DIS Veteran

    Apr 6, 2010
    I love, love, love, love the auto train. I have done it twice in less than one year because I like it that much. I work near the train so I load my car the night before, work a full day and then head on over to the train. I have done the coach and the roomette and much prefer the roomette.

    Here are my tips. Buy as early in advance as possible. Unlike flights, the prices only go up.

    Don't lose your tickets. Repeat DON'T LOSE YOUR TICKETS. You will have to repurchase them. Amtrak will reimburse you for the others if you find them but it can get pricey to buy all new tickets.

    Don't forget to pack a power strip so you can be charging your stuff while on the train.

    I take my Slanket and a pillow and that works for me in the roomette.

    If you do coach, go on the lower level. It is much less traffic down there.

    PIERCEDRN I Bleed Eagles Green

    Apr 3, 2007
    We love the Autotrain for our family of 4 b/c we will be going for our 2nd trip in Oct. for FREE! We transferred our continental and now united miles to Amtrak and booked a Family bedroom for 30,000 miles each way... no better use of miles IMHO. Our train ride would have cost over $2000 cash, and there is no way to fly for 4 with miles for less than 100,000 miles. We loaded our car up with everything we ever could need (no quart size TSA bags!) and enjoyed a delicious steak dinner on the way to boot.
    For me its the only civilized way to go to disney.
    And its free, so that helps. :rotfl:

    PIERCEDRN I Bleed Eagles Green

    Apr 3, 2007
    DON'T DON'T Don't order hard tickets by mail, and its not an issue. We booked by phone for this reason, they give you the option of picking them up at the station, which also lets you cancel until the very last day. :thumbsup2
  10. LookinUp

    LookinUp Mouseketeer

    Mar 24, 2011
    We like to have a picnic dinner on the way down. Better for budget and waistline. Then we might have a steak dinner on the way back.
  11. herdtoDisney

    herdtoDisney DIS Veteran

    Jul 22, 2010
    Our family LOVES the AutoTrain!!! :banana::banana::banana:

    We took it last month for our Disney trip. We also took it in 2009 for a family visit to Fl. We have a 6 hr drive to Lorton to get on the train. Last month, we left home very early, got to Lorton around 12 and checked in, then grabbed lunch nearby the station. The train left around 4 and we were in Fl around breakfast. We go coach-we bring blankets. Dinner and breakfast is included, and we are able to grab enough sleep, since the seats recline well. There is a bit of noise, but the train rocking motion seems to lull you to sleep.


    -for us, not having to do the LONG drive, which we've done many times and really don't like.

    -cost, we think it's reasonable. Last time was $1100 for six of us plus our truck, rt. With gas what it is, and if we drove we'd have to get a motel both ways plus meals on the road, and wear and tear on US ;), it was worth it.

    -we enjoy train travel and consider it part of our vacation experience. Plus, we get to have our vehicle with all our stuff in it when we get there.


    -it's certainly longer than flying.

    -train bathrooms are just kinda :eek:, they were clean but they're weird.

    -we did experience a delay because the train ahead of us hit and killed someone on the tracks (which is trespassing). It was a couple hours. But we have never had any other delays.

    Both stations are really nice with playgrounds and clean restrooms. Sanford is finished now and is a huge improvement over the previous station. And, while our family is happy with coach travel, if I had an infant or toddler, I'd rent a room, because there is not really a diaper changing place or place for baby gear.

    I ordered my tickets by mail and put them in my firebox where I keep all my papers, no worries about loss that way.
  12. disney1990

    disney1990 <font color=royalblue>Wow, it make my heart skip a

    Aug 24, 1999
    Do you know that, if you don't have your tickets printed and mailed to you, instead you arrange to pick them up on the day that you travel -- if you plans change, you can get a 100% refund of the price of the tickets. Once we learned this, it is the only way we do it -- no lost tickets and a refund if necessary.
  13. lost*in*cyberspace

    lost*in*cyberspace DIS Veteran

    Dec 30, 2005
    There are many threads about the Auto Train on the Transportation Board. Did you search there?

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