Journey to Magic by Claire Bryson
I’ve always been a Disney fan, but it wasn’t until 2009 that I finally got to experience Walt Disney World, and when I did, there was no turning back. You cannot unsee all the magic and wonder that it is there and I was hooked on going whenever I could.
It’s a short 2 1/2 hour flight from Toronto, but over the years I’ve used a variety of ways to get to Florida. Staying on property is great when you fly, being able to use the Magical Express and not needing a car. But since my trip in 2016 to volunteer at Give Kids the World, a car is a necessity so I can go there often during my trip. I don’t mind driving but from T.O., but it’s a long way on your own. The first time I did it I planned a 5 day road trip with stops in Hershey, National Harbour, Myrtle Beach, Charleston, and Hilton Head. It was a great way to break up the trip and go to places I had never been to before. The year after I decided to drive again, but just get down there as quick as I could. I was so excited I barely slept at the rest stops. Driving home was not as fun and felt like it took me forever. I did stop at Hilton Head to go to the beach but it was still a long way home after that. Music and snacks certainly helped along the way. Last year I flew and rented a car. It worked out ok but the car rental was pricy and was quite a long wait to pick it up, almost as long as the flight itself. I’m also not a light packer, especially coming to Disney, needing space for ears, costumes, and accessories and to leave enough space for souvenirs. My most exciting journey was this year. I drove to Lorton, VA and took the Auto train to Sanford, FL. I love train travel also and have gone from Buffalo to NY and Chicago and from Edmonton to T.O. This was so fun and relaxing. You pay for your car and then choose a seat, roomette or bedroom space. After checking in your car, they put a # on it and you can watch them load it onto the double-decker train carriages. Once you board the train you have a little time to wait before departing. I booked the roomette which was comfortable and gave me privacy when I wanted. The room steward is available if you need assistance at any time and will put your bed down for you whenever you like. The lounge car is open all the time if you wish to sit there, but my little room was perfect for me. Dinner and continental breakfast are included. You are sat with other passengers for dinner which was amazing to meet people and I had a fantastic conversation with people that use the train frequently. Showers are available too as well as a coffee/tea/ice station down the hall. There is only 1 stop in the night to refuel and change conductors and the train is only for car passengers, so no other pickups are done on the route. We left at 4 pm and arrived at about 8:30 am. It went by quickly and I arrived relaxed and ready to hit the parks.
One of the best things about it is I packed my car with whatever luggage I needed and just brought a carryon onto the train with me. This time I had separate cruise luggage that would have been an overweight bag for sure!
This was not a once in a lifetime experience because I will do it again. If you have the time I highly recommend the auto train. For me, it’s a beautiful scenic drive through Pennsylvania, there are many places to stop along the way or visit near Lorton as well to add on to your trip. But really however I get there is a small part in comparison as long as I get there.
Until the next journey to magic…..
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