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Are the Days for the Monorail Limited? (along with the Florida Disney Monorails)?

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  • Are the Days for the Monorail Limited? (along with the Florida Disney Monorails)?

    Are we coming to a point where the days of the monorail at Disney are over?

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    Many of you have heard about the recent story at Disney World where one of the doors was open. It scared a lot of people riding it, though thankfully, no was hurt. Still, this did get a lot of people questing the safety of the older models used in Florida. It also got me thinking that even though Disney has maintained it and even done some updates, nothing too big has come from this. Is Disney eventually going to end all their monorail programs? I think that may be an endgame, but let's look at some of the history.

    When Walt Disney added the monorail system to Disneyland, he wanted both an easy transport for guests staying at the nearby Disneyland Hotel (it wasn't owned by the company until the 1980s), and a new kind of transportation that would be more reliable then public transit. The model for Disneyland worked and proved popular for guests just for the novelty of flying above the ground, without much delay. Even after Walt's death, the park has continued to maintain it and occasionally provide newer monorail cars. How has the rest of the company used the monorail?

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    At first, everyone seemed enthusiastic about the future of monorails. Disney World was built was an extensive monorail system that allowed the Magic Kingdom to connect many of it's resorts and a transportation hub with the plan of expanding it once the E.P.C.O.T. project got off the ground. Of course, E.P.C.O.T. would face complications (after all, the idea of a city of tomorrow was nothing more then a dream from Walt) and we instead got EPCOT center, another theme park. The monorail was given a new line regardless, with hope that the monorail would prove to be the face of easy transport.

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    One by one, monorail systems were added to the Tokyo, Paris, Hong Kong, and Shanghai parks with the continued purpose of easy guest transport…but something was different with them. Unlike the American parks, the international monorails and trains seemed to actually provide access from their city metros into the parks. None of them were featured attractions for the parks. You could argue that its not an attraction in Florida either, but there are guests that would still ride it for the sight-seeing aspect. The new monorails were simple transportation from A to B. It could be a cultural thing or a cost thing, but Americans still see monorails as a novelty train rather then a serious way of the future.

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    How many American cities have built their own monorails? Only two on my account; one in Seattle and another in Las Vegas. Budgeting limitations have never allowed for full city-wide system, so they were restricted to certain parts. The Seattle line only goes from one part of the city to the area of museums. The Las Vegas one only remains on one side of the strip, servicing a set of hotels. But both have had their fair share of troubles. Both have had high maintenance costs, they've tried to expand, and have never gone beyond their opening services. So what does this have to do with Disney?

    This reflects the fact that modern engineering has proven of how unreliable monorails are. Their expensive, few companies produce parts for them, and are difficult to plan and build. This is the case too for Disney. In Florida, they have been under pressure to expand lines to Disney Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, and other other hotels, but for a system that's supposed to be free, the cost (said to be hundreds of millions of dollars) doesn't make sense. The only way to would be to reserve it exclusively for resort guests…and charge an extra fee for constant use. But the cost would be so insane, that this is why Disney is putting forward their plan for a resort wide gondola/skyway transport, the Skyliner.

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    Is this going to apply for Disneyland? Given that the Anaheim monorail is for guests only, they'll probably have a lot more time to buy, but I could see them phasing them out for high costs. I think Disney would rather take that budget and apply it for more in park attractions or better transport for resort guests. I also think that while the imagineers still think it's a neat novelty, it's a dated novelty that the real world have never fully applied.

    What do you think? Do you think Disney will keep the Disneyland Monorails forever or will they eventually close?
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  • #2
    As a major stockholder, I can tell you that the answer to your question is a simple no.

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    • #3
      Are the Days for the Monorail Limited?......No , Disney still like the concept for a show ,as part of the resort .
      and still use as Transportation !
      Soaring like an EAGLE !

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      • #4
        I should point out that. WDW dismissed the rumors.

        Disneyland is not going to abandoned them anytime soon. My signs of this are:
        1.They upgrade all 3 monorails, which was a very long fete to accomplish.
        2.It's still serves a purpose of transporting Disney Hotel Guest to DL and guests to Downtown Disney.
        3. Earlier reports for the Eastern Gateway, had the monorail tracks being re-routed slightly, showing they still intended to use them long term.

        Slightly off topic, but regarding Seattle's Monorail. The Monorail was nearly expanded about a decade ago, with an initiative being passed, to allow expansion and new Monorails. The proposal grew to big, much to the disgust of the residents. A counter-initiative was made up, and it killed the project after only a year of development. Today, Washington is gunning more for Sound Transit, which is a series of high speed of trains, serving the Puget Sound region.

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        • #5
          OP still a good report...done very well
          Soaring like an EAGLE !

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          • #6
            gondola/skyway transport, the Skyliner.

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            Would be great at Disneyland Resort.......over Downtown Disney !
            Soaring like an EAGLE !

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            • #7
              Originally posted by armyknife View Post
              As a major stockholder, I can tell you that the answer to your question is a simple no.
              That's good to hear. I'd hate to see the Monorail go.

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              • #8
                I don't think they ever would get rid of it. They do need to re-evaluate their safety and maintenance procedures for sure, though. And probably should invest in upgrading the WDW fleet - it's 27 years old now.

                This sounds like it's all sky-is-falling rumors that never had any basis in being factual. It's a knee-jerk over reaction for certain.

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                • #9
                  I think that the plan to have the monorail station integrated as part of the new hotel means it's probably sticking around for a while. That said, it's not a very effective or convenient mode of transportation for the resort and its continued existence is probably more out of nostalgia than anything else. The monorail might be more useful if it connected to resort parking and if it had a higher capacity. But, no. Its future is as a perk for an exorbitantly priced hotel and not much more.

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                  • #10
                    I see the future, that Disneyland Monorail will be Hotel Guest Only , attraction/transportation .....
                    Soaring like an EAGLE !

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                    • #11
                      I hope not. My last few Disneyland trips, my family has used the Monorail to go on an Earl of Sandwich run for lunch without having to walk all the way there and back into the park.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by RforFilm View Post
                        What do you think? Do you think Disney will keep the Disneyland Monorails forever or will they eventually close?

                        They will eventually close. Nothing lasts forever.

                        A couple of small corrections in an otherwise wonderful write-up. The trains that run to Shanghai Disneyland, Hong Kong Disneyland and Disneyland Paris are all owned and operated by the local municipal metro organizations and Disney's involvement in those projects was minimal. And they are all light rail systems, not monorail. Tokyo has the same setup, with local city trains running to the resort that are not operated by Disney or OLC in this case. OLC does own and operate the Tokyo Disney Monorail which was the last monorail built with Disney's assistance. Unlike the other Disney monorails though, the Disney Resort Line actually charges a fee to ride (I think it's about $2 per trip). All of the stops on the Tokyo monorail are also serviced by a free bus route.


                        While all the focus of maintenance is on the trains, the real long term concern for the system would be the track. At Disneyland, the 50+ year old concrete beamway is notorious for sagging between the pylons, making a rather rough ride (and increasing the wear and tear on the trains). Eventually it will fail and need to be replaced. That could be 20 years away, 50 years away or maybe even 100 years away. But unless there is some future nostalgia for monorail specific travel, I doubt the ridership counts in the future will justify a whole-scale replacement of the system.

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                        • #13
                          I doubt it. They rely on them at WDW or transportation. As someone else mentioned the new hotel is integrating the station into the hotel.
                          These are some of my favorite TRs I have posted

                          DL 55th BDAY trip report
                          My company had a special night at the park
                          WdW trip report with WWoHP
                          NYE 2011 trip report
                          Mice Chat 7th anniversary
                          Leap year 24 hour report
                          New DCA trip report
                          NYE 2012
                          HKDL trip report

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                          • #14
                            If they ever do get rid of the Monorail 🚝 I hope they leave the tracks up indefinitely to remind us of what used to be.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by RforFilm View Post
                              Are we coming to a point where the days of the monorail at Disney are over?
                              No, but we are coming to the point where Disney management will figure a way to stick the customers with an additional charge for riding it.


                              "With the acquisition of Marvel and now of Lucasfilm,
                              Disney may have finally found the grail. You don't need
                              imagination or art. All you need is a brand."

                              - Neil Gabler

                              "I didn't know the story of baby Jesus could be any better,
                              until Thor told it to me."
                              -
                              Young girl at Disneyland's 2017 Candlelight Ceremony

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