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 Post subject: Re: Florida's Mt. Dora Express/Orange Cannonball Shutting Do
PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2017 3:55 am 

Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2016 9:35 pm
Posts: 70
junior wrote:
2010 there was no operation that I know of.....


There was one, Florida Rail Adventures, that started in the fall of 2009 and made it until May/June of 2010. In early 2010 B. Allen Brown became involved and adjusted the name to the Orlando Star Clipper. Just like the rest, it floundered and failed.

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I think many of the people talking in this forum have never been to Mt. Dora or Tavares. I visited twice, once during the first year of the Cannonball, and again the 2nd to last weekend.


I think that's a presumptuous statement. It's foolish to think the numbers you would see right after it opens and right before it closes are indicative of what it always saw. That's not the case.


There is a considerable difference between making money on an investment level and not losing money on a personal level.

If you spend $200,000 (low side) moving equipment (that you already own) and attending other startup needs and then take home an average of $30,000 per year profit after expenses, your business isn't "losing money" but even after 6 years you still haven't recouped your initial investment. If that money was in the bank or other ventures it would have earned interest or potentially made much more money. Remember, you don't have anything tangible to sell for that $200,000 after 6 years. ...and when train time is over, you have to spend at least an additional $100,000 to ship your train back to your house or wherever it goes, so you have to have that ready or risk scrapping or merciless storage fees.

So while the owner may not have been continuously writing checks out of a personal account to keep the thing afloat, and it sent the owner a check for over $2000 per month, the owner still will have lost money once the dust settles.

In addition to the above, many businesses survive on cash flow when turning only a modest or negative profit. Business owners take advantage of 90 day billing cycles and lines of credit in order to keep taking "dividends" from a company that isn't bringing in as much as it is paying out (or supposed to be paying out to creditors.)


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 Post subject: Re: Florida's Mt. Dora Express/Orange Cannonball Shutting Do
PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2017 4:02 am 

Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2016 9:35 pm
Posts: 70
I would suggest that any new operator's plan include "permanently closing" every few years, not only as a nod to tradition but, to clean up on the "this time is the last time ever..." weekends that always seem to ensure sold out trains, high gift shop sales, and a large influx of cash and press attention.


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 Post subject: Re: Florida's Mt. Dora Express/Orange Cannonball Shutting Do
PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2017 3:37 pm 

Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2015 5:55 pm
Posts: 356
Crescent-Zephyr wrote:
I think many of the people talking in this forum have never been to Mt. Dora or Tavares.

I don't know who you are referring to specifically, but you posted right below my post, so, not only have I visited Tavares, I actually worked out of there for about a week as a temp truck driver in the summer for a couple of places, one that sold hardwood lumber wholesale to cabinet makers and so forth, the other was a roofing supply company. Perhaps that is why I am a bit negative toward the line, I associate it with work.


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 Post subject: Re: Florida's Mt. Dora Express/Orange Cannonball Shutting Do
PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2017 6:44 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 57
I wasn't referring to anyone specifically. Several people commented on low ridership being the reason for closing, when that is not the case.

Others mentioned it's hard to compete with the theme parks, again, not the case. Anyone who thinks they can compete with Disney is crazy. An operation like the Cannonball should be appealing to locals / snowbirds who want to do something more relaxing than the big theme parks. Again, Mt. Dora and Tavares are towns that exist for recreation. Mt. Dora has many local shops and restaurants and lots of people visiting them.


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 Post subject: Re: Florida's Mt. Dora Express/Orange Cannonball Shutting Do
PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2017 11:51 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 21, 2008 8:29 pm
Posts: 319
I heard that they closed because they had so many FRA violations that they could not afford to fix them all. True? Has this ever happened to any other operations?
T7


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 Post subject: Re: Florida's Mt. Dora Express/Orange Cannonball Shutting Do
PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2017 2:08 am 

Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2005 2:46 am
Posts: 85
Location: Elko, NV
One question that comes to my mind...how many of these operators departed to or from Orlando versus other places on the line? I was one of the people who rode the Orlando & Mount Dora, probably in 2002, but from what little I could find on the internet it appears the Inland Lakes Railway might have been the only one of these other operations to have gone to Orlando...but unlike the O&MD, which departed to and from Orlando, it appeared to take people TO Orlando, either for basketball games or other special trips.

The highest ridership on the list junior provided occurred during the O&MD operation. I can't help but think their trains operating to and from the center of a major metropolitan area (instead of people having to drive an hour or more out of the city) might have had something to do with that. But I could be wrong.

I never got to experience any of the other operations. From what I remember of the O&MD ride, it was an almost all day affair, several hours going from Orlando to Mount Dora during the morning, several hours free to wader around Mount Dora during the middle of the day, then a late afternoon return to Orlando. Seemed like a good operation and a good run, I remember the train on which we rode was almost full. However, I also remember the parking and boarding situation in Orlando to be a bit strange, and in the end it probably had just too high of a cost structure to support what they were trying to do.

Jeff Moore
Elko, NV


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 Post subject: Re: Florida's Mt. Dora Express/Orange Cannonball Shutting Do
PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2017 2:15 am 

Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2016 9:35 pm
Posts: 70
Termite7 wrote:
I heard that they closed because they had so many FRA violations that they could not afford to fix them all. True?
T7



No


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 Post subject: Re: Florida's Mt. Dora Express/Orange Cannonball Shutting Do
PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2017 9:41 am 

Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 9:29 am
Posts: 214
The OMD operation was Ed Ellis and Iowa Pacific....
Shortly after they bought the two railroads in north Texas, they stopped all advertising... within a couple months the ridership crashed....
At the time they stopped the advertising, the train was hitting 400 passengers pretty regularly on weekends...
The trip was about 2 hours 15min each way and about 3 hours layover...
The price was $25 a head and it cost, at the time, about $3k to run each trip, based on weekend only operation....
They did a few things wrong...
Used too small a steam loco...Reader #4, they broke it....
poor choice of diesel....used an Alco S1...they broke it too...
Trainset was not very nice and lacked enough bathrooms,etc...
They also tried for a time to run 5 days a week....it wasnt ready to grow that fast...


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