Amtrak Auto Train to Disney - with three small girls
March 6-13, 2009
Travelers: Me, my wife, my 5 year old daughter, and two year old twin daughters
March 6: Lorton to Sanford
We live about an hour away from the Lorton station, so we arrived early enough to eat lunch at the Glory Days Grill and check our vehicle in at 1pm. We had a family bedroom reserved and had no problem getting our preferred 5pm dinner service. The train departed on time, but I believe it was only about 3/4 full.
Dinner was decent - my wife and I both had the steak and the girls had the choo choo chewies. The kids chicken tenders were a bit tough. We were worried how we would work 5 people in a 4 person booth, but the kids were small enough that we put two kids on one side and one on the other with an adult. The staff just added an extra setting.
We had the beds made up after dinner. We put the twins on the bottom small bunk and our older daughter on the upper bunk. I took the large upper bunk and have never had a worse night of sleep in my life. The mattress is barely two inches thick and hard as a rock. Overall, the kids slept ok - better than my wife and I did.
Breakfast was good, and the train arrived right on time. We had our van in about 40 minutes.
March 13: Sanford to Lorton
We had to check out at 10 (we stayed right next to Disney), so we drove up and had lunch at the mall that's about three miles from the station. We checked in at 1:30 and got the 5pm dinner service. My only comment here is that the Sanford train station was very dirty. The train departed a little early, and was very full.
We learned on the way down that it's much more comfortable to have the beds put down before the train even leaves the station. The kids go on top with the DVD player and everyone is more sane. This worked very well.
We all got the roasted chicken for dinner, which was very good and not overcooked at all.
This time, we put two girls on the big upper bunk and one girl on the small upper bunk. I slept diagonally on the small lower bunk with my feet on the big bunk and my wife took the big lower bunk. I was much more comfortable!
Even with a 30 minute mechanical delay south of Fredericksburg, we were back in Lorton 30 minutes early. Overall a good roundtrip.
When you run the numbers, the train is about the same price as 5 plane tickets and a rental van. When you weigh the options (train vs. drive vs. fly), it made sense for us with our kids at the age they are (think strollers, car seats, diapers, etc).