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Question about Orlando area stations

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Hello!  We are planning a trip from the 30th street station in Philly down to the Orlando area.  We'll be booking 2 roomettes (It's myself, my husband, and two older kids, so a bedroom wouldn't be quite large enough.) on the Silver Star. (We're perfectly okay with bringing our own food to supplement what the cafe has to offer.)  This is our first experience taking the train down to the Orlando area.  

Now, we realize that none of the Orlando stations are anything like the 30th St. station, and we are not expecting them to be.  We will be renting a car, and we also realize that while we can drop off the car and keys at the station upon our return, it's not an actual car rental location right at the station.   

So, our question is this, which station is likely best for us to choose in Florida, Kissimmee, Orlando, or Winter Park?     We'll be driving from the station (after my husband gets the car, that is) to Universal Studios.  We don't really care if our drive is a bit longer or shorter.  We realize the drive from Winter Park is longer, for instance, than the ride from Orlando, but we'd be getting off the train a bit earlier, so that really wouldn't be an issue anyway.  But if there is any station that might make obtaining the rental car easier, that's definitely the one we'd like.  Or if any station would be better suited for me and the kids to stay waiting for my husband to go pick up a car and come back for us.  In other words, a better/larger indoor waiting area, perhaps?   We don't really need any amenities at the station.   We're looking only for ease of getting that car, basically.  :)     (And yes, we definitely want a rental car.  I know we can hire a car to Universal, but then we'd need to hire another to go from Universal to Disney in a few days, and another to visit relatives during our trip and then return to Disney, and yet another to return to the station at the end of our trip.   That just sounds a bit much to us.  We'd rather the slight inconvenience of dealing with fetching the rental once.)

Thank you for any advice or insight!    :)
 
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Cho Cho Charlie

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I have done the same trip, myself, many many times over the years.

Hertz has a part time rental counter right in the Orlando station.    If you have a reservation, Hertz will have a car waiting for you right in the station's parking lot.    When you return, you simply leave the car in one of the Hertz reserved spaces.    Pretty simple, and convenient.

BTW, don't forget that as Sleep Passengers, you can use the lounge upstairs at the 30th Street station.
 
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I have done the same trip, myself, many many times over the years.

Hertz has a rental counter right in the Orlando station.    If you have a reservation, Hertz will have a car waiting for you right in the station's parking lot.    When you return, you simply leave the car in one of the Hertz reserved spaces.    Pretty simple, and convenient.

BTW, don't forget that as Sleep Passengers, you can use the lounge upstairs at the 30th Street station.
Perfect!  That's even better than we thought.  Thank you very much!
 

cocojacoby

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I tried the same thing about a year ago.  To my surprise when we got to the Orlando Hertz counter they put a bunch of us in a van and took us to a nearby hotel where we signed paperwork and got our cars.  We also had to return the cars there (free van shuttle back).  Not a big deal but not as planned.
 

pennyk

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None of the Orlando area stations have amenities anything close to 30th street station.  As was previously stated, there is a Hertz rental counter in the Orlando station.  I know that Ryan has used it in the past.  Also, Enterprise is fairly closeby (2-3 miles) and will come and get you.  The Winter Park station is in a lovely area with many great restaurants withing walking distance, but further from Universal.  The Kissimmee station is the smallest of the 3 stations.  There are restaurants within walking distance, but I believe the drive to Universal will be longer from KIS than the drive from ORL.  The Orlando station is in an industrial area near a major hospital.  There are restaurants a few blocks away, but not as close as the other 2 stations.  

The Orlando station is my "home" station and I prefer it even though the area surrounding WPK is much more scenic.
 

Palmland

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While it's been a long time, when we last rented in Orlando we used Avis because I had a corporate discount. But, to my pleasant surprise, their office was less than 5 minutes to the station. We were picked up when the group waiting for Hertz was still dealing with a line and paperwork. Returning the car was easy too for the same reason. So, it pays to check all options.

If we were to do it again, though, I'd opt for Winter Park because it's such a nice area with the station in a park setting. Great place to have a leisurely dinner before your return on the Star.  But it is about a 40 min. drive to Universal.
 

crescent-zephyr

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The Orlando Station has a decent size indoor waiting area. It's also going to be the closest to Universal so I would say go for it. 

For others that may be reading this, I've taken Amtrak to/form Disney many times and have used both Orlando and Kissimmee stations. They are both about the same Uber drive away from Disney property, although you can take the Lynx bus if you want to (I've taken it several times to Orlando... it's a bit of a pain with the luggage and the transfer but it's certainly doable).  To me... the Kissimmee station is that small, quaint little Amtrak station that I love. One agent on duty, one small platform. The train pulls up, you can get on or off, and the train is gone before you know it. Orlando is a much bigger station with lots of people getting on and off and it's just busier and always a line for baggage, a line to board. Nothing over the top crazy but Kissimmee is just the definition of chill in comparison. 
 

Cho Cho Charlie

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While there always seems to be a well-organized line for coach, I have never had a line for boarding Sleeper Passengers at the Orlando station..    As a Sleeper Passenger, the "perk" is that you can simply meander up to your car after the train stops.
 
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Thank you everyone for your advice and for sharing your experiences.  :)    
 

Just-Thinking-51

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Taking the Lynx bus from the Kissimmee stations to Disney property is not a real option anymore. Yes it there and it will get you to the transportation center, but that where the issues start.

Disney moved there security line to the transportation area, and you can no longer access the WDW resorts* with out going through security.  Taken your bags though security would be fun, if they even allow you to.

In this case the OP wants to rent a car, so it’s irrelevant.

* Resorts that required a bus to get you there from the transportation center.
 

crescent-zephyr

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Taking the Lynx bus from the Kissimmee stations to Disney property is not a real option anymore. Yes it there and it will get you to the transportation center, but that where the issues start.

Disney moved there security line to the transportation area, and you can no longer access the WDW resorts* with out going through security.  Taken your bags though security would be fun, if they even allow you to.

In this case the OP wants to rent a car, so it’s irrelevant.

* Resorts that required a bus to get you there from the transportation center.
The Lynx bus also stops at Disney Springs (previously known as Downtown Disney). From there you can catch a Disney bus to any Disney resort.  Actually less of a hassle than taking a boat or monorail over to the MK Bus Stop from the Ticket Center.  That being said.. when it was a Taxi fare or Lynx I chose Lynx. When it's an Uber fare or Lynx, Uber wins easy. ha. 
 

cpotisch

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And just why are you not driving a couple of hours down to DC and taking the AutoTrain WITH your own car on it??? No packing - what fits in the car goes with you!!! Leave Lorton 3:30, arrive Orlando 7-8am non-stop! I do it at least 8-times-a-year.
I really disagree, for a few reasons:

  1. Auto Train is really expensive.
  2. I've found car rentals in Florida to be dirt cheap (often $35 or less per day for a sedan).
  3. We don't know that they necessarily have their own car.
  4. The 3-4 hour drive down to Virginia is a bit of a pain.
  5. The packing process is pretty much the same, whether they bring their own car and take the AT, or rent a car and take the Meteor. Either way they have to get their stuff together, put it in bags, etc. I just don't see the connection.
 
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Caesar La Rock

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As some have stated, not too many amenities near any of the Orlando stations compared to 30th Street. Winter Park however, you do have more food options when it comes to waiting for your incoming train. Last time I got off after my trip from NYC at the station I simply took a bus, which thankfully the area has more frequent bus service then the Amtrak station in Orlando, which has one hourly service. Kissimmee, you have to do a short walk for that, but there is a lot of bus service in that area. There are two rental car locations nearby the Winter Park station, Hertz is one of them and the other is Car Rental Orlando, which is down Morse Blvd after Denning Dr.  Just my personal experience of the area, which is my home station. Hope you have a safe trip and enjoy all the great activities the city has to offer. :)
 
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SarahZ

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3. odd...don't know anyone without their own car.
I can't even comprehend this statement. I know plenty of people who don't own a car, for one reason or another.

Also, out of sheer curiosity, do you leave anything at home when you travel?  :p

Even though I have a car, I'd be tempted to hop on a nearby train and rent a car at my destination rather than driving 3-4 hours and then driving my car around. Sometimes rental cars are nicer. Sometimes I don't want to put miles on my car. Everyone has their reasons.

Personally, unless I were going to be in Florida for longer than a couple of weeks, I'd see no need to bring my own car or pack that much stuff. If I were a snowbird, then yes, of course. But for a short vacation? Nah. I'll hop on the local and then get a cheap rental once I'm there.
 

Ryan

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The packing process is pretty much the same, whether they bring their own car and take the AT, or rent a car and take the Meteor. Either way they have to get their stuff together, put it in bags, etc. I just don't see the connection.
False. The one time we took the Auto Train to FL, we were able to bring all sorts of stuff that would have been impossible on any other train, including my kid’s bike (fit in the back of my Tahoe).  

There is a massive difference between “pack whatever you think you may want in the car, packed however you want” and “pack only what you can carry in suitcases”, not to mention completely eliminating the “take bags from car into train station, and then from train station into rental car” steps. Significantly easier. 

As Penny mentioned, I rented a car at the Orlando Hertz counter. Worked great, picked up there, dropped off there. That was a long time ago!!!
 

cpotisch

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I don't have one. 

It's pretty common for people in larger cities with good transit (Chicago, NYC, etc.) to not have their own car. 
Same here. Having one's own car is an absolute chore in NYC, and offers minimal benefit. Parking spots are absolutely endangered around here, traffic is pretty miserable, and everything is pretty much always within walking distance or easily accessible by subway/bus. Why should we spend tens of thousands of dollars on something that offers very few benefits, that we have to maintain, find a parking spot for (remember that NYC is alternate side parking hell), etc.

Just doesn't make sense here.
 

cpotisch

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As some have stated, not too many amenities near any of the Orlando stations compared to 30th Street. Winter Park however, you do have more food options when it comes to waiting for your incoming train.
The other benefit of Winter Park is that it's an absolutely beautiful station, surrounded by all these trees and grass and pretty buildings. Great place to wait for a train.

-

- Wikimedia user Meloaeraujo
 

crescent-zephyr

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Winter Park is certainly the prettiest of the Orlando area stations. But it's also the furthest from Disney which where I am usually headed.

As long as you live in a location where you can easily get to basic needs (which for me includes Coffee!!! ha.) owning a car is highly over rated in my opinion. I didn't own a car before Uber, but now that Uber exists there really isn't a need for one for me. 

That being said Auto Train is a great choice for those who want to have their own car while in Florida, I certainly see the appeal. But it also makes perfect sense to hop on the Silver train and rent a car for a few days. 
 

SarahZ

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The font is in the Art Nouveau style. It took me a second to pinpoint it. That's probably why I love it so much. :)
 

Caesar La Rock

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That station and the location around it is just nice. The new station actually looks like a train station. The location is a little further away from the attractions, but I-4 is nearby. From the station, heading out southbound on New York Avenue and turning right onto Fairbanks, head straight until you see I-4. I only saw the Sunset Limited once and that was the train running light to the Taft yard and I was no more then a few miles away from the yard when it passed the crossing. I was on Orange sitting at a traffic light when it passed. Most of the time I wanted to see the Sunset or even asked about it, "DELAYED on the status" and sometimes I would find out the train was either cancelled or a day late. The tri-weekly schedule did not help either, so that was my one time seeing it nearly 20 years ago.
 
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