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Just hit me: Disney is NOT making more monorails

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  • Just hit me: Disney is NOT making more monorails

    I hope this makes sense.

    First, my bona fides: I have been going to WDW since 1972.
    Used to live in Fl (but not now).
    DVC member.,
    Currently an Annual Passholder.
    Visited Disnelyand a handful of times over the years (most recently 2015)

    Just got back from my second trip to the WDW resort this year. Love all the construction and updates happening.

    BUT... the monorails are still as dirty and in disrepair as I have ever seen.

    With all of the talk about Disney's new Gondola system for WDW (rolled out in stages, I am sure), and the expanded bus system around the resort, and now the "Minnie Van" Lyft system in place, It occurred to me that Disney is done with monorails.

    The original DL monorails are nostalgic, sure; but lets face it, even with the new resort planned for DTD in California, the DL monorail is an attraction, not really a convenient mode of transportation for the resort. It's fun, but not "necessary"

    The WDW monorail fleet is basically an L-train, designed to do grunt work day-in, day-out.
    The current fleet is over 25 years old and, other than the fact that they are implementing the automated system, has changed little in that time.

    While Tokyo DL has a monorail (QUITE the different beast out there), the other parks Shanghai / Hong Kong /DL Paris do not have a monorail line, and there has been no serious information that they will be added.

    During my recent trip, I heard a man in the monorail at the Polynesian groaning to his family: "WDW should have a monorail out to Animal Kingdom, there's no reason they shouldn't." He was CONVINVED that Disney could and should expand the system. And while I understand his sentiment, the resources and $$$$$$ involved are not on the Disney radar for such an expansion, to any of the rest of the WDW property.

    Not. Ever.

    It has become painfully clear that, for the WDW 50th, we MAYBE / MIGHT get refurbished monorail trains (possibly, who knows?), with new paint and upholstery, and plastic vinyl coverings. But basically the same creaky 1989 cars/cabins underneath. Again, that's a BIG maybe. But a new fleet? Heck no. Too much $$$ to buy, test, and support 12 new monorail trains.

    So, what I am saying is, as the reality sinks in: the current WDW monorail state of affairs is probably the best it is going to be.


    Last edited by chris2fett; 11-11-2017, 05:09 AM.

  • #2
    Like you mentioned, building track for the Monorail is very expensive. Refurbishing Monorails can be also a pain, like the drama over DL's Mark VII will show you.(I also wonder whether the reported Disneyland's Monorail realignment, will just use the same pieces of track for the project). The Monorail is sadly no longer the dream of the future, especially since the craze is now Maglev Trains (Trains that are Magnetic and don't actually touch the tracks).

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Spongeocto4 View Post
      Like you mentioned, building track for the Monorail is very expensive. Refurbishing Monorails can be also a pain, like the drama over DL's Mark VII will show you.(I also wonder whether the reported Disneyland's Monorail realignment, will just use the same pieces of track for the project). The Monorail is sadly no longer the dream of the future, especially since the craze is now Maglev Trains (Trains that are Magnetic and don't actually touch the tracks).
      What's interesting to think about is there's a fine line between future innovation and nostalgia. The monorail is now a thing of the past but everyone associates it with Disneyland. But true to Walt's vision of having future transportation, management could knock it all down and replace it with these magnetic trains.

      I hope they don't do that because I treasure Disney history.

      OP, unfortunately you're probably right, which I don't get. Monorails have been around for generations I just don't see how they can't upgrade the tech to make it better while remaining true to it's aesthetics.
      KA CHOW

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      • #4
        One of the other issues RE: upgrading the WDW fleet: the 3 deluxe hotels on the line command higher prices party for their proximity to the MK, AND their access to the monorail. While the Polynesian and Grand Floridian have the stations bolted on the the outside of the resort hotels, The Contemporary station is inside the hotel, in the Grand Canyon Concourse. Have you ever seen the monorail roof clearance at the Contemporary? It's less than 1 foot. New monorail cars would have to be basically the same size / shape as the old ones, just to fit through the Contemporary resort (the west side, underneath the 5th floor rooms walkway). Not much leeway for variation there.

        Over time, I can see WDW trying to sell the Gondola system as a monorail replacement. Now, to be fair to WDW: although I am not privy to any of the $$$$, I wonder if this was seen as a compromise. You just KNOW that the numbers have been crunched on an Excel spreadsheet somewhere in Disney accounting RE: adding more monorail lines / expansion. My guess would be $$$hundreds of millions, if not $$$one billion plus.

        With other park expansion plans, and a desperately needed EPCOT makeover, someone may have proposed the Gondolas as a "Plan B"; a unique and much less expensive way to provided rapid transport from resort hotels to the parks. It could be slowly rolled out in stages, and used as an incentive to drive people to book at certain resorts (and therefore increase room rates at those hotels). Also, it provides the ability to remove a problematic car/pod off of the line for maintenance, without stopping everything in its tracks (no pun intended). I wonder if loading / unloading will be easier? i.e. Like at Space Mountain in DL, can a Gondola car be pulled off of the line, to allow special needs guests to board (while the rest of the ride continues), and then be re-inserted back onto the line when ready?

        Outside of individual Gondola pod air conditioning, the biggest issue will probably be the station maintenance. If there is a station issue with the cable, and one of the Gondola lines "stops", how do you get people out of all of the swinging buckets hanging up in the air? With the monorail, if the train his technical issues, it can still be towed back to the station.

        And, on a much more uncomfortable to think about note, can you imagine the shenanigans that people will do inside an isolated Gondola pod? Those things will probably need to be hosed out on a daily basis

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by chris2fett View Post
          One of the other issues RE: upgrading the WDW fleet: the 3 deluxe hotels on the line command higher prices party for their proximity to the MK, AND their access to the monorail. While the Polynesian and Grand Floridian have the stations bolted on the the outside of the resort hotels, The Contemporary station is inside the hotel, in the Grand Canyon Concourse. Have you ever seen the monorail roof clearance at the Contemporary? It's less than 1 foot. New monorail cars would have to be basically the same size / shape as the old ones, just to fit through the Contemporary resort (the west side, underneath the 5th floor rooms walkway). Not much leeway for variation there.

          Over time, I can see WDW trying to sell the Gondola system as a monorail replacement. Now, to be fair to WDW: although I am not privy to any of the $$$$, I wonder if this was seen as a compromise. You just KNOW that the numbers have been crunched on an Excel spreadsheet somewhere in Disney accounting RE: adding more monorail lines / expansion. My guess would be $$$hundreds of millions, if not $$$one billion plus.

          With other park expansion plans, and a desperately needed EPCOT makeover, someone may have proposed the Gondolas as a "Plan B"; a unique and much less expensive way to provided rapid transport from resort hotels to the parks. It could be slowly rolled out in stages, and used as an incentive to drive people to book at certain resorts (and therefore increase room rates at those hotels). Also, it provides the ability to remove a problematic car/pod off of the line for maintenance, without stopping everything in its tracks (no pun intended). I wonder if loading / unloading will be easier? i.e. Like at Space Mountain in DL, can a Gondola car be pulled off of the line, to allow special needs guests to board (while the rest of the ride continues), and then be re-inserted back onto the line when ready?

          Outside of individual Gondola pod air conditioning, the biggest issue will probably be the station maintenance. If there is a station issue with the cable, and one of the Gondola lines "stops", how do you get people out of all of the swinging buckets hanging up in the air? With the monorail, if the train his technical issues, it can still be towed back to the station.

          And, on a much more uncomfortable to think about note, can you imagine the shenanigans that people will do inside an isolated Gondola pod? Those things will probably need to be hosed out on a daily basis

          Loading of wheel chairs and scooters should be a big issue. The cars level load just like the monorail and they are moving pretty slowly in the station. If a person isn't quite ready for the car they are supposed to get on they can always wait for the next which will be a few seconds away. There are systems where a car can be pulled off the line for loading but I have heard that this system will not have that, cars will only be removed from the line for storage and maintenance.

          AC won't be a maintenance issue since there are no plans for AC in the cars. Gondola systems have a number of backup system that can keep the line moving so there are very few scenarios where they would have to evacuate directly from the cars, although I am sure Disney will have the proper equipment ready just in case.

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          • #6
            When a one Rail for the monorails cost over $1000.00 That alone make the monorail very expensive transportation !

            I one ,that love the Monorails !
            DL and WDW
            Soaring like an EAGLE !

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            • #7
              I think it is more likely we will see a removal of the WDW monorail as we know it and an installation of a more traditionally driven train vehicle, such as a elevated light rail. Something that doesn't require the engineering. They could probably try to call it a Monorail when it really isn't.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by danlb_2000 View Post


                Loading of wheel chairs and scooters should be a big issue. The cars level load just like the monorail and they are moving pretty slowly in the station. If a person isn't quite ready for the car they are supposed to get on they can always wait for the next which will be a few seconds away. There are systems where a car can be pulled off the line for loading but I have heard that this system will not have that, cars will only be removed from the line for storage and maintenance.

                AC won't be a maintenance issue since there are no plans for AC in the cars. Gondola systems have a number of backup system that can keep the line moving so there are very few scenarios where they would have to evacuate directly from the cars, although I am sure Disney will have the proper equipment ready just in case.
                Is this confirmed no AC for the Gondolas? I can easily see this as a HUGE issue potentially during 9 months of the year, especially in Orlando 100+ "realfeel" temps are not unheard of, babies, elderly, people with heart conditions, the list goes on and on by those who would be affected by this issue. I know for me personally I would not ride in one of those things during the spring-fall, heck I don't even like to ride my motorcycle when it's above 90* here in Tampa you wouldn't catch too many people riding inside of a gondola.
                The test of success is not what you do when you are on top. Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.
                -George S. Patton

                Comment


                • #9
                  I'm encouraged that Disney is putting the gondolas in place and hope that system expands down the road. I am inclined to agree that the monorail as we know it won't expand. It's too bad that Disney didn't move forward with the plans to expand the monorail in the late '80s when the MGM-Studios was being built. The opportunity was there, but now it's too late. Still, given the transportation challenges that Disney is facing at WDW, they may look for other interesting ways to move people around beyond buses in the future.
                  The Tomorrow Society - A blog and podcast that takes a smart look at Disney and other theme parks from a fan's perspective

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