finally got into sanford at around 11:30 and off the train by noon - 21 hours in total. But you know what, other than Justin Biebers' "Never Say Never" being the nightly movie in the lounge car, the kids never ever complained about the trip. I couldn't imagine what it would have been like to drive the 14 hours or so. Cost was about $1,200 round-trip.
This part was the big difference for us on our recent trip—no kids here. We took the train down and drove back (left Disney at 5 PM Friday, July 1, drove to Green Cove Springs to visit a friend, then left there 12:15 PM Saturday and drove all the way home that day, getting home to Kingstowne at 12:12 AM). We took the Auto Train at the start of the trip because we figured that making the long drive made more sense at the end of the trip, especially on a three-day weekend with an extra day to sleep in.
Marquis De Sade, it's a pretty good way to get to spring training. As he mentioned, it drops you in Sanford. You can either take FL-417 south to the Bee Line to I-95 or go across US-46. If you go down there every year, get yourself a SunPass Mini for your car. That's the automatic toll device that you're supposed to attach permanently to your windshield. BUT I tried fastening it with Scotch tape and it worked perfectly well. So you can remove it, swap it from car to car, etc. The reason for getting the Mini is that it costs $5 but they give you $5 credit in tolls if you use it within 30 days. The more permanent device that looks like an E-ZPass costs $25 nonrefundable. F that.
The other nice thing about taking the train is that they serve you dinner and you can drink wine without having to think about getting back in the car. BTW, the menu is different in the coach class dining car and the sleeper class dining car (the latter is better and has better wine).
BTW, if any of you interested in the train accrue American Express Membership Rewards points, note that you can cash them in for an Amtrak gift certificate. We used points and got $300 off the train fare.
I think Amtrak does a very good job with the cars—when you pull up they go all around your car with a video camera to document its condition to eliminate any disputes about damage. If you have a "valet key," just put all your stuff in the trunk, lock out the remote trunk release, and lock the glove compartment, and then give them the valet key for driving it onto the train.