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Questions about travel from Orlando to Vegas, Niagara Falls, weekends, etc.

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snljamie0518

Service Attendant
Joined
Apr 29, 2016
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125
Location
Aurora, Colorado
I've gone to both Reno and Las Vegas on Amtrak and I'd recommend Reno for your purposes. The Kingman<>Las Vegas Thruway bus is a well-run service; I've enjoyed riding it. However, it is stuck with departure and arrival times that don't mesh well with hotel check-in and check-outs and I am not sure how they would do in carrying a motorized wheelchair. Also, the Kingman bus operates out of the Las Vegas airport, which may or may not be handy. The Amtrak Reno station is right downtown.
Does Reno have the same kind of strip Vegas has with all the lights? Does it have really good restaurants? Does it have "Elvis" walking around? I would like to see the fountain.

Both Reno and Las Vegas have good bus systems if you want to include an informal sightseeing trip and there are regular sightseeing buses, too (all info subject to pandemic measures). A trip to Lake Tahoe is a popular side-trip from Reno.
Lake Tahoe sounds nice. Is it accessible?
 

caravanman

Conductor
Joined
Mar 22, 2004
Messages
3,916
Location
Nottingham, England.
Hello,
I don't want to give wrong information, but I think Buffalo is the most convenient stop for Niagara Falls. There was a local bus service from there to the Falls.
I am surprised to hear that the Amtrak Bus from Los Angeles to Las Vegas no longer runs, but there is a Greyhound bus from the Los Angeles train station to Las Vegas, which leaves at 1.40pm and arrives at 7.35pm.
I found Las Vegas a much more exciting and alive place than Reno, as a non gambler!
 

me_little_me

Conductor
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We would like to go to DC at some point but we don't think it's safe because of what happened with the riots. There is also a fence around the Capital building & The White House. When we take the train, we don't take the rooms because they would be too tight for my husbands chair.
There is a lot more to DC than the Capitol and W.H. So many museums, almost all free. All of them as far as I know are wheelchair accessible. There are other things too, like the monuments, Arlington Cemetery, and the excellent zoo but most of the museums are around the central core near the White House and Congress so are very accessible as far as distance to each other.

You are needlessly worrying about the riots. That's like worrying about the freeze in Texas in April - lwhen it is long gone.

As to the Handicapped Room, you might check the price on multiple days as it could be very cheap. The doors are wider; once you board, it is the first room you encounter; it is designed for a wheelchair occupant; the service is better than in coach and you can sleep in a bed at night. If your husband uses the bottom bunk to sleep, you'd have to climb up to the top one unless you are both really thin. You have a private bathroom.

The Handicap Room has special pricing and, in spite of being the largest room on the train, is priced for the Handicapped at about the same as a roomette.

Note, you both get discounts (you get 15%) in either coach or sleeper because of his disability. However, no discount if you pay with points.

If you can't afford the round trip in the Handicap Room, consider going up by coach and returning in the H.R. You will also be entitled to use the D.C. Amtrak Lounge for your return, enhancing your experience a little more.
 

railiner

Conductor
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
8,850
Location
Palm Beach County
A friend suggested Savannah as well. What is there to do there?
This should give you some suggestion's...

 

zephyr17

Conductor
Joined
Jul 22, 2009
Messages
4,076
Location
Washington State
Hello,
I don't want to give wrong information, but I think Buffalo is the most convenient stop for Niagara Falls. There was a local bus service from there to the Falls.
I am surprised to hear that the Amtrak Bus from Los Angeles to Las Vegas no longer runs, but there is a Greyhound bus from the Los Angeles train station to Las Vegas, which leaves at 1.40pm and arrives at 7.35pm.
I found Las Vegas a much more exciting and alive place than Reno, as a non gambler!
Amtrak's Empire Service trains serve Niagara Falls, NY directly. No need to change to a bus at Buffalo.
 

jiml

Conductor
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
2,524
Location
Somewhere in Southern Ontario
Lake Tahoe sounds nice. Is it accessible?
Lake Tahoe is beautiful. The town itself is split between California (no gambling) and Nevada (with gambling). The bigger, fancier hotels are naturally on the Nevada side, but the California side is full of "rustic charm". I've only gone there from the south - best reached from Sacramento. The northern access is from Reno I believe, but you would have to travel all the way around the lake to reach the town.
 

Cal

Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 23, 2021
Messages
220
Location
Greater Los Angeles Area
Thank you!

Please note, I don't know much, but I will tell you what I know.

1. Amtrak does not serve Las Vegas by train. I believe they offer thruway motorcoach (bus) service there, you would transfer in Kingman, AZ after hopping off the Southwest Chief.
Would I have to transfer in Chicago to get the Southwest Chief?



Whenever the border does open, where would we transfer from to get to Niagara Falls?



I know all about the long distance trains & their delays. We used to take the Lakeshore Limited from NYC to Chicago, then transfer in Chicago to Denver on the California Zephyr. We have even taken the train from NYC to CA once. We have also taken Southwest Chief from Raton to Kansas City. We are just not too familiar with traveling from FL to other states or other parts of FL. We are only familiar with the Orlando area.



If we had to transfer in Chicago & there is a layover, where do we get food if the food court is closed? Would we have to quarantine if we are just transferring? What if we missed our train & had to put us up in a hotel like they have in the past?



We travel safely by Lynx & Sunrail. We also eat inside restaurants & have even gone to the movies. We have gone to Disney Springs & Universal. We also go to Walmart all the time so we feel safe doing these things.



Thank you for giving me your best answers.
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Yes, you would have to transfer in Chicago to get to the Chief. it'd be ORL - WAS/NYP/BOS - CHI - KNG

Once the border is open, you would transfer in New York to get to Niagara Falls.

No idea if the food court is closed at Chicago Union Station. I don't think you would need to quarantine for a transfer, but have someone else double check.

About connections, if you book it all under one reservation, basically where the Amtrak App/website shows it as a connection, it is guaranteed. So they will either hold your next train for you, put you in a hotel, or bus you to your trains next stop.
 

niemi24s

Conductor
Joined
Feb 11, 2015
Messages
2,488
ORL = Orlando, Florida station
SM = Silver Meteor train
SS = Silver Star train
WAS = Washington, D.C. station
CL = Capitol Limited train
CARD = Cardinal train
LSL = Lake Shore Limited train
CHI = Chicago, Illinois station
SWC = Southwest Chief train
KNG = Kingman, Arizona station
LVS, LAS, or LVT = Las Vegas, Nevada bus stops
CZ = California Zephyr train
RNO = Reno. Nevada station

The times are 24 hour clock times, just like most every other country in the world uses for printed schedules, as it avoids any confusion between am and pm. Any time greater than 1200hrs is between noon and midnight, so if it says 1606hrs just subtract 1200 (12 hours and no minutes) and add a pm: 1606hrs - 1200 = 406 pm or 4:06 pm.

Most Americans (except GIs and ex-GI's) are Neanderthals when it come to these sorts of things, including dates. Here in the US and a small handful of other countries, our next Independence Day is said to be on 7/4/21 or perhaps 07/04/2021 which leads to the ambiguity "is 07/04 the 4th of July or the 7th of April?". Long ago the US military avoided all ambiguity by adopting this format - 4 Jul 2021 - but I don't know if this is still used in the computer age. The ISO 8601 date format of YYYY-MM-DD or 2021-07-04 eases computerized sorting and also has a logical sequence of sized units of time.

But heck, this is America: the land of the free and the home of the brave, eh?
 

niemi24s

Conductor
Joined
Feb 11, 2015
Messages
2,488
. . . I am not sure how they would do in carrying a motorized wheelchair.
Your suspicion is spot on. Fumbled around with some dummy bookings and found they can get to Kingman AZ with a motorized wheelchair but not all the way to any of the three downtown Las Vegas bus terminals. But the motorized wheelchair doesn't seem to pose any any Amtrak restrictions when going to Reno.

By the way, my previous dollar and point figures were based on going in a sleeper. For Coach, it looks like the total fare from Orlando to Kingman would be $616 or about 15,700 25,000 points, to Reno would be $568 or about 23,600points. But going to Reno requires an overnight stay in either Washington DC, New York City or Chicago - assuming the 3X weekly schedule remains.
 
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me_little_me

Conductor
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3,626
ORL = Orlando, Florida station
SM = Silver Meteor train
SS = Silver Star train
WAS = Washington, D.C. station
CL = Capitol Limited train
CARD = Cardinal train
LSL = Lake Shore Limited train
CHI = Chicago, Illinois station
SWC = Southwest Chief train
KNG = Kingman, Arizona station
LVS, LAS, or LVT = Las Vegas, Nevada bus stops
CZ = California Zephyr train
RNO = Reno. Nevada station

The times are 24 hour clock times, just like most every other country in the world uses for printed schedules, as it avoids any confusion between am and pm. Any time greater than 1200hrs is between noon and midnight, so if it says 1606hrs just subtract 1200 (12 hours and no minutes) and add a pm: 1606hrs - 1200 = 406 pm or 4:06 pm.

Most Americans (except GIs and ex-GI's) are Neanderthals when it come to these sorts of things, including dates. Here in the US and a small handful of other countries, our next Independence Day is said to be on 7/4/21 or perhaps 07/04/2021 which leads to the ambiguity "is 07/04 the 4th of July or the 7th of April?". Long ago the US military avoided all ambiguity by adopting this format - 4 Jul 2021 - but I don't know if this is still used in the computer age. The ISO 8601 date format of YYYY-MM-DD or 2021-07-04 eases computerized sorting and also has a logical sequence of sized units of time.

But heck, this is America: the land of the free and the home of the brave, eh?
You forgot about yards and feet; ounce and quarts; and pounds and ounces. Too hard for we Americans to convert to metric.
 

niemi24s

Conductor
Joined
Feb 11, 2015
Messages
2,488
As weights as measures is sort of a hobby (weird, huh?) one of my favorites from back in college days was the giant Imperial quart. This was ¼ of an Imperial gallon which was the volume of 10 pounds (avoirdupois) of water. Much of the beer up my way came in Imperial-sized bottles (being so close to Canada, I guess) and being about 20% more than the US bottles at about the same price they were quite popular with the beer lovers at MCM&T.

But I suspect all that went by the wayside when Canada went metric. Ah, such fond <burp> memories. :)
 

niemi24s

Conductor
Joined
Feb 11, 2015
Messages
2,488
Each dollar is worth about 25.5 points.
Pay no attention to this boo-boo of mine. How much points are worth when buying a ticket is (as far as I can tell) highly variable. Just monkeying around on this thread I've seen it vary from about 25 to 42 points per dollar with no idea why it fluctuates so much. But when buying points you get anywhere from about 27 to 35 points for each dollar. And when paying cash for a ticket you get about 2 points per dollar.

I guess AGR Points are nice for those who spend most of their lives on trains, but for me . . . phtt-t-t!
 

John Bredin

OBS Chief
Joined
Dec 18, 2007
Messages
780
Location
suburban Chicago (Buffalo Grove)
If we had to transfer in Chicago & there is a layover, where do we get food if the food court is closed? Would we have to quarantine if we are just transferring? What if we missed our train & had to put us up in a hotel like they have in the past?
Even when the rules in Illinois were at their strictest and only take-out was allowed, some restaurants in Chicago Union Station were open as an exception. Not the full selection, but at least McDonald's, Dunkin' Donuts, and Chik-Fil-A.

But Illinois is allowing indoor dining right now, so you should have choices outside CUS as well. Looks like famous Lou Mitchell's is closed temporarily, but a few stands at the excellent Chicago French Market (link) a few blocks north of CUS behind Ogilvie Station are holding on for lunch service. A long enough layover allows you to go into the Loop and maybe as far as Michigan Avenue.
 

niemi24s

Conductor
Joined
Feb 11, 2015
Messages
2,488
Does Amtrak go to Niagara Falls in Canada from FL? Is the Canadian border open yet?
No, the border is not yet open and many here believe it will remain closed for your trip in April. However, perhaps you are not aware that both water falls comprising what's known as Niagara Falls (Horseshoe Falls and American Falls) can also be viewed up close from the US side of the border. The Amtrak station in Niagara Falls, New York (code, NFL) is a bit less than two miles from the Falls. This has photos of what can be seen from the US side of the border: THE 15 BEST Things to Do in Niagara Falls - 2021 (with Photos) - Tripadvisor

If the border happens to open up for your trip in April, the Amtrak station in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada (code, NFS) is also about two miles from The Falls and offers frontal views of them from land. Views from the US side of the border are from the side. Maid Of The Mist boat tours of The Falls is shown as being wheelchair accessible... Niagara Falls Boat Rides & Trips | Maid of the Mist ...but as of now they start giving tours on May 16th.
 
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niemi24s

Conductor
Joined
Feb 11, 2015
Messages
2,488
According to this... Spring Break 2021 Dates - STS Travel ...colleg Springs breaks start on 20 Feb and end on 10 Apr, so it looks like you can safely avoid that unpleasantness.

As far as going to Niagara Falls, you can train there from Orlando without an overnight stay in New York City (NYC) by leaving Orlando any day from Sunday through Wednesday on the Silver Meteor for maybe $326 in Coach. That's because the train from New York City to Niagara Falls, New York (Maple Leaf) runs twice daily and you arrive in NYC in time to catch the last Maple Leaf to the Falls. You'd have 2 hours and 20 minutes between trains in NYC and then arrive in The Falls at 10:11pm any day from Monday through Thursday.

However, that same train route back home from Niagara Falls does require an overnight stay in either New York City or Washington D.C. because the earliest train from Niagara Falls gets to New York City at 3:45pm which is 30 minutes after the last train departs for Orlando. If you wanted to avoid staying overnight in NYC, you could take any one of several trains from New York City to Washington D.C. and spend the night there instead. After a night in either place you'd then take either the Silver Meteor or the Silver Star back home.

Finally, consider that the average high/low temperatures in Niagara Falls in April are 56/35°F.
 
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me_little_me

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However, that same train route back home from Niagara Falls does require an overnight stay in either New York City or Washington D.C. because the earliest train from Niagara Falls gets to New York City at 3:45pm which is 30 minutes after the last train departs for Orlando. If you wanted to avoid staying overnight in NYC, you could take any one of several trains from New York City to Washington D.C. and spend the night there instead. After a night in either place you'd then take either the Silver Meteor or the Silver Star back home.
Or stop prior to NYC and stay overnight then catch a morning Amtrak or Metro North train to the city, see some sights then catch the Meteor or Star.
 

jiml

Conductor
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
2,524
Location
Somewhere in Southern Ontario
However, that same train route back home from Niagara Falls does require an overnight stay in either New York City or Washington D.C. because the earliest train from Niagara Falls gets to New York City at 3:45pm which is 30 minutes after the last train departs for Orlando.
I don't have a current schedule, but is Empire Service #280 not currently running? It leaves Niagara Falls/Buffalo at some ungodly hour most days of the week, but does connect with the Meteor. I know, I've done it.
 

Mailliw

Service Attendant
Joined
Jun 14, 2020
Messages
221
Location
Scranton, PA
Out of curiosity how does the closed border effect the Maid of the Mist? Is she still allowed in Canadian waters without making landfall?
 

niemi24s

Conductor
Joined
Feb 11, 2015
Messages
2,488
I don't have a current schedule, but is Empire Service #280 not currently running?
Doing a bunch of dummy bookings will give you your answer. But all I could find was 284 and 84 - but I could have missed it.
. . . how does the closed border effect the Maid of the Mist?
As far as I know, it doesn't.
 

snljamie0518

Service Attendant
Joined
Apr 29, 2016
Messages
125
Location
Aurora, Colorado
There is a lot more to DC than the Capitol and W.H. So many museums, almost all free. All of them as far as I know are wheelchair accessible. There are other things too, like the monuments, Arlington Cemetery, and the excellent zoo but most of the museums are around the central core near the White House and Congress so are very accessible as far as distance to each other.
Doesn't the Capital building have Lincoln statue outside of it? We don't drive so we would be walking everywhere. I don't know if they would have a free shuttle to take you to some of the places?

You are needlessly worrying about the riots. That's like worrying about the freeze in Texas in April - lwhen it is long gone.
You're right! I shouldn't worry about something like that. We did live in NYC [Queens] when 9/11 happened & still went into the city a few days after it happened.

As to the Handicapped Room, you might check the price on multiple days as it could be very cheap. The doors are wider; once you board, it is the first room you encounter; it is designed for a wheelchair occupant; the service is better than in coach and you can sleep in a bed at night. If your husband uses the bottom bunk to sleep, you'd have to climb up to the top one unless you are both really thin. You have a private bathroom.
We will think about it because my husband's chair is wide & he doesn't get out of it except to sleep. He doesn't have any balance so he would have trouble getting into the beds. I would like to try a sleeper someday so it may have to happen when I am not with him, which is rare.

The Handicap Room has special pricing and, in spite of being the largest room on the train, is priced for the Handicapped at about the same as a roomette.
The bathroom may be too tight for his chair.

Note, you both get discounts (you get 15%) in either coach or sleeper because of his disability. However, no discount if you pay with points.
He gets a disability discount & I am his companion. Usually, when we take the train we get the companion fare.

If you can't afford the round trip in the Handicap Room, consider going up by coach and returning in the H.R. You will also be entitled to use the D.C. Amtrak Lounge for your return, enhancing your experience a little more.
It's something to think about anyway.
 

snljamie0518

Service Attendant
Joined
Apr 29, 2016
Messages
125
Location
Aurora, Colorado
This should give you some suggestion's...

Thank you for the link. We will check that out. Do you know if there is anything close to the station? We don't drive.
 

snljamie0518

Service Attendant
Joined
Apr 29, 2016
Messages
125
Location
Aurora, Colorado
Would I have to transfer in Chicago to get the Southwest Chief?



Whenever the border does open, where would we transfer from to get to Niagara Falls?



I know all about the long distance trains & their delays. We used to take the Lakeshore Limited from NYC to Chicago, then transfer in Chicago to Denver on the California Zephyr. We have even taken the train from NYC to CA once. We have also taken Southwest Chief from Raton to Kansas City. We are just not too familiar with traveling from FL to other states or other parts of FL. We are only familiar with the Orlando area.



If we had to transfer in Chicago & there is a layover, where do we get food if the food court is closed? Would we have to quarantine if we are just transferring? What if we missed our train & had to put us up in a hotel like they have in the past?



We travel safely by Lynx & Sunrail. We also eat inside restaurants & have even gone to the movies. We have gone to Disney Springs & Universal. We also go to Walmart all the time so we feel safe doing these things.



Thank you for giving me your best answers.
Yes, you would have to transfer in Chicago to get to the Chief. it'd be ORL - WAS/NYP/BOS - CHI - KNG

That is a lot of transfers right now. We would rather wait awhile before we do a long distance train travel like that. We also can't afford to travel like that right now. We are on a tight budget.

Once the border is open, you would transfer in New York to get to Niagara Falls.

That sounds like a nice trip.

No idea if the food court is closed at Chicago Union Station. I don't think you would need to quarantine for a transfer, but have someone else double check.

That would not be nice if they make you quarantine just for transferring. We are trying to avoid quarantines.

About connections, if you book it all under one reservation, basically where the Amtrak App/website shows it as a connection, it is guaranteed. So they will either hold your next train for you, put you in a hotel, or bus you to your trains next stop.

Two out of those three things have happened to us. We have never experienced being bused to our next train stop.
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