This is a series of about 3-5 separate blogs. All of these are in reflection to our recent trip from Pennsylvania to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Hope you enjoy them and I hope that you find some of the tips useful. Just to give you some background, we originally were going to drive the 18 hour drive to FL. We did a test run to Kentucky to visit family. That was a 9 hour drive that we turned into 12 just because of all the breaks we had to take. When we returned we realized that our kids had done really well so of course we had no reason to think that they wouldn't do just fine on the trip to Orlando. As we got closer to our trip I started thinking about the drive home from Disney. I started worrying about the kids, frankly, I started worrying about Patrick and I. Everyone was going to be a little on the bummed side.
I remembered as a kid taking the auto train with my mom and wondered if it was still in operation. The rest was history!
So we began our actual journey this morning at 8:30am. Classically, an hour and a half past when we wanted to get on the road. This was a day of firsts for us mainly due to the fact that our dvd in our car had died on us. We were about to embark on a 4 and half hour car ride without it for the first time. Its amazing how we all have relied on these marvels of technology to entertain our children, especially in the car, making our lives a lot easier. I can see why some would wax and weigh about these things being horrible, what ever happened to family sing alongs right? But I for one am not one of those people. I have one intention and that is to arrive at our destination without wanting to eat my young. Needless to say it went well until the last 45 minutes, which of course was the most stressful navigating around the beltways of Northern VA.
So we get to Lorton, Virginia, follow the signs to the auto train, talked to the nice lady at the booth & pulled up to the terminal and started unloading.Everyone was so nice and kind as we unloaded all of our carry-ons. Then they took our car away to load it onto the train. We went into the terminal, checked in, got our dinner tickets, waited about an hour then boarded the train. That was it! A little too easy. So we decided to take cover & wait for that other shoe to fall. It never did!
Our seats are large, spacious and comfy. Complete with foot rests. It’s like a little lazy boy recliner. What I am personally loving is that there is enough room between the 2 sets of seats for the kids to sit on the floor and play. I had filled their bags with all sorts of new coloring books and small toys. The Bigs had their DS’s and we loaded up ipods with movies, we were beyond prepared to keep them occupied. The one thing though I hadn’t thought of was the most obvious thing of all. Just the anticipation of the train ride and the train actually moving kept everyone occupied for a few hours. Everyone was just so excited to be on the train. I am not sure who was more excited the kids or the adults! Yes I was jumping up and down so happy not to be driving, and frankly not to be flying.
As I sit here typing this, all our bellies are full of delicious food we had for dinner, all included in the price of the ticket mind you. We have been lounging around for about 3 hours just playing and reading stories, spending that quality time that you don’t normally get in the hustle and bustle of the day to day. Those moments alone were worth the price of admission. We are whisking through North Carolina, and I am loving the fact that we aren’t sleeping in a hotel off the interstate. I am a spoiled, spoiled girl. I know it, this is really living for me. Glass of wine in hand, kids all resting, not asleep mind you but resting and I am enjoying peace and quiet while quietly being chauffeured to our wonderful destination.
Already memories are being made for our family. I think one of the things that I will remember most was when my dear husband who works so hard for our family, shut down his laptop (he worked a full day by having me drive the Lorton and then once we were on the train he continued to work.) and said “okay guys I am yours for the next 10 days.” Wow. We were really on a family vacation, complete with Mimi. And to make it better, we are going to Disney World! Amazing.
Couple of things to know about the auto train.
1. You are not allowed into your car during the travel period so take what you want to have with you when you unload your car.
2. If you have small children as to be seated towards the back of the car. There are large areas behind the last row of seats that are great for spreading our further, even building a little bed.
3. Do bring blankets and if possible pillows. They will make your trip a lot more comfortable.
4. Dinner is served at 5pm, 7pm and 9pm and is included in the price of your ticket. Breakfast starts at 6am. If you go during the "snow bird migration get ready"! They will be all scooting through the aisles at exactly 6am to get their muffins and cereal!
5. Shoes must be worn every time you walk through the train.
6. Lights out is at 9pm
7. When you get to Florida or Lorton, they call your car number, you go out and get into your car and away you go! It really is that easy! It was about a 10 minute wait, that was it!
8. There is a movie provided, however, this is probably the last form of transportation to still allow smoking in the downstairs lounge car. The smoke filters upstairs to the main lounge car where the movie is shown. We didn't want the kids to smell like smoke so we didn't take advantage of this.