Orlando International Airport (MCO) means a lot of things to a lot of people. To travel geeks, it’s the busiest airport in Florida, the 7th busiest in the county and the 10th busiest in the world. To tourists, it’s the airport that brings them to their favorite theme parks. To frequent travelers, it’s the busy, crowded cluster-F of an airport that’s filled with families who don’t travel very often (and all the trials and tribulations that go along with that). To locals, it’s simply their home airport.
However you feel about MCO, there are 2 things changing there. One is a small one you’ll undoubtedly experience whether you notice it or not. The other is something huge that will be a transportation game changer.
Unlike some other large airports, MCO doesn’t have trains to shuttle them from place to place. All passengers traveling between the main MCO building and Terminal A, B or C have to take an Airport People Mover (APM).
Once you’re in the APM, you hear a short welcome speech from Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer (first elected in 2003, he is Orlando’s longest-serving mayor). The speech you’ll hear will vary if you’re going to or from the main building; it’s either a “Welcome to Orlando” or a “Goodbye from Orlando” theme.
Oh, and when the APM’s audio was messed up in the Spring of 2022, Dyer, who has a good sense of humor, was on hand to help:
If you see him at the airport today tag us! pic.twitter.com/EZpKW2ej30
— City of Orlando (@citybeautiful) April 1, 2022
Anyway, Dyer updates his speeches annually, and 2023 will be no exception. He recently recorded his 2023 APM speech, which will be heard as a regular part of MCO soon:
Meanwhile, MCO’s new Terminal C opened in September. Here’s what we saw of it on opening day.
Besides being a terminal for several airlines, Terminal C will also have a 37,350 square foot train station for the privately owned Brightline train.
Brightline currently runs from Miami to West Palm Beach. However, for the past few years, construction for a vast extension to connect the line to MCO has continued, and appears to be almost done. Done enough where Brightline has released a “First Look Inside Brightline Orlando Station” video. Take a look:
Once the rail is completed and the trains are running (it’s said a one-way ticket between Orlando and Miami will be about $100 and will take about 3 hours), the next step will be extending the line even further.
The original plans were for there to be a stop at Walt Disney World. However, when the route didn’t go the way Disney wanted, they pulled their interest in the project. Since then, plans have been changed, money has been chipped in, and the possibility of a station at the Orange County Convention Center was recently announced.
The MCO-to-OCCC portion of the line, if it happens, is still somewhere in the future. But Brightline between MCO and Miami should be starting sometime this year. As someone who loves train travel, and has friends and family in/near Fort Lauderdale, and who loves her Virgin Voyages out of the Port of Miami, I can hardly wait!
Feature Photo: MCO
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