Appealing to the train lover in your vacation group is easy with a trip to Kissimmee. Whether it’s narrow-gauge train rides, cable railway, heavy commuter rail, or monorail, Kissimmee has a diverse mix of options to please everyday visitors and train buffs alike.
Walt Disney World Monorail System
Whether you’re a ferroequinologist (person who studies trains) or not, there’s something special about a trip on the Walt Disney World monorail. Officially operated by Disney Monorail Transportation, a set of 12 trains run along three lines connecting two theme parks (Magic Kingdom and Epcot) and several hotels, with a hub at the Transportation and Ticket Center. Riding the straddle-beam monorail is free, although we suggest bringing your preferred payment methods for stops at the theme parks and amazing resort restaurants.
The trains each sport a different color stripe along the beltline of the cars. Boarding is easy, with station platforms level to the passenger car floor. Strollers and other wheeled carriers are welcome. The cars feature a mix of forward- and rear-facing seats, as well as standing room (remember to grab a bar for stability!).
Express service connects the Magic Kingdom park directly to the Transportation and Ticket Center. From there, you can also catch the Resort line, which adds stops at three resort hotels along the same route. For a different perspective, hop on the Epcot line, which connects the Transportation and Ticket Center to the Epcot theme park.
Walt Disney World Railroad
This narrow gauge railroad is a staple attraction at the Magic Kingdom. Passenger cars are pulled by fully restored Baldwin Locomotive Works steam engines, retrofitted to burn diesel fuel to heat the boiler. The four locomotives date back to the 1910s and 1920s, and originally serviced a Mexican railroad.
Guests can’t miss the Main Street, U.S.A., station located at the main entrance to the park. From there, passengers stop at Frontierland and Fantasyland. A separately priced daily “behind the magic” tour is available, and gives passengers special access to the roundhouse.
When planning your trip, remember that although the trains have limited room for guests with wheelchairs, strollers must be parked off the train. Also, important to note is that service is suspended during fireworks shows.
Wildlife Express Train
Another Disney narrow gauge railway, this train takes Animal Kingdom guests on a roundtrip journey between Harambe Station in the theme park’s Africa section to Conservation Station at Rafiki’s Planet Watch.
Although resembling 1890s era steam locomotives built by Horwich Works, the three diesel engines in service at the park were actually manufactured by Severn Lamb in 1997. Guests may notice builder plates stating a manufacture date of 1926 by Beyer, Peacock and Company, however.
Unique to the Kissimmee area, passengers on the Wildlife Express Train sit facing outward, providing a unique perspective as the train rumbles by backlot operations and animal quarters.
This unique attraction allows guest with park-to-park admission at Universal Orlando Resort to move between Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida, bypassing the main gates. Passengers board at either King’s Cross Station outside Diagon Alley or the Hogsmeade Station and are ushered into specific passenger compartments within the cars. The compartments provide no view of the outside world. Instead, passengers are treated to digital displays and projections for one of two totally immersive storytelling experiences, depending on which direction the train is heading.
Two identical trainsets run along a single linear elevated track and are cable drawn between the stations. Although appearing historical, the trains were purpose built for the attraction and modeled after the trains used in the Harry Potter film franchise.
Although the attraction is accessible for all guests, strollers aren’t permitted within the passenger compartment, but do make the one-way voyage and are retrievable upon existing the passenger car.
Complete with narrator, this added-fee experience at Gatorland takes passengers near the alligator breeding marsh and crocodile exhibits. The train’s single stop along its narrow gauge path allows guests to depart near the on-site barbeque joint where you can grab a plate of fried gator nuggets – the house specialty and a fan favorite. Keep in mind, though, that boarding is only permitted at the main station.
Looking for some local flavor? On any given weekday, you’ll find thousands of Central Florida residents hopping aboard SunRail, a single-line commuter rail service connecting several communities in the metropolitan area. Although service to Kissimmee and points south isn’t yet operational, a quick drive will get you to the Sand Lake station and give you hassle- and traffic-free access to professional sports venues and museums.