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Disney backs high-speed train in Orlando, but to what extent?

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According to an Orlando Sentinel story from October 2, Disney has decided to support the construction of a high-speed train that will travel between Tampa and Orlando.  They have even offered up to 50 acres of free land to build a station on Disney property.  They will also support a train stop at the Orange County Convention Center, which is very close to their competitor Universal Studios.  Disney opposed this idea previously, but their recent change of heart has given a huge boost to the fast-train proposal.

This train isn’t guaranteed to happen, though.  Florida submitted their proposal to Washington to receive $8 billion set aside by the Obama administration for creating mass-transit systems just like this.  Florida is just one of almost 280 applications submitted to Washington, according to the Sentinel article.  C.C. Dockery, a supporter of the Florida fast-train, said in the article that he is excited about how Disney’s marketing abilities could showcase the train.

It’s great that Disney wants to support these efforts, but how interested would they really be in marketing the train?  Remember that they run their own transportation services in the Orlando area, namely Disney’s Magical Express.  The Sentinel ran another article today by Dan Tracy and Jason Garcia that speculated on that topic.  According to the article, analysts say Disney wouldn’t want to have their customers start taking the train instead of DME.  After all, 2.2 million people use that service every year.

If those people start taking the train, that could mean they’re not spending as much money on Disney property.  And there’s nothing wrong with Disney wanting people to spend money with them.  Disney runs a business, and that’s ultimately the goal when you run a business.  If you think you have a better product, you’ll want people to use your product over someone else’s.

Disney’s Magical Express is a very good service.  We used it on our last trip to WDW, and I thought it was very convenient.  It may not be as good as having your own transportation, but if anyone doesn’t want to deal with driving it becomes an excellent choice.  I doubt Disney would want to dampen that. 

I’m glad Disney is supporting this train.  It’s a great thing for the area, and I’m excited to see what happens with the proposals.  But I completely understand if Disney puts the Magical Express before the fast-train.  It wouldn’t make sense from a business standpoint to advertise something that could have an impact on your own revenue.  It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.


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