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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, 04:09 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).

    Comment


    • #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

      Comment


      • #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.

          Comment


          • #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 !

            Comment


            • #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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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ORD84 View Post

                    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.
                    If there's not AC that also creates another major issue with them- it means they're going to have to open air so they don't become furnaces inside literally cooking the guests. So not only are they going to be uncomfortably hot, but then once the daily heavy rains hit they'll drench the passengers.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by sirwillow View Post

                      If there's not AC that also creates another major issue with them- it means they're going to have to open air so they don't become furnaces inside literally cooking the guests. So not only are they going to be uncomfortably hot, but then once the daily heavy rains hit they'll drench the passengers.
                      Exactly and with modern tech there's no reason they can't install solar panels on the individual cars if they don't want to run electric on the wires...a small panel could easily power a small btu ac unit that would be enough for that car and wouldn't be cost prohibitive. This way they can be enclosed, didn't they use to shut down the Tomorrowland skyway during heavy rains? I can't see them doing something like that for a system that's supposed to alleviate traffic and be in use all day.
                      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


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ORD84 View Post

                        Exactly and with modern tech there's no reason they can't install solar panels on the individual cars if they don't want to run electric on the wires...a small panel could easily power a small btu ac unit that would be enough for that car and wouldn't be cost prohibitive. This way they can be enclosed, didn't they use to shut down the Tomorrowland skyway during heavy rains? I can't see them doing something like that for a system that's supposed to alleviate traffic and be in use all day.
                        The size of a solar panel you could put on a gondola probably wouldn't be enough to power an AC even under ideal conditions. Even if it did work under ideal conditions it would be challenging to keep the solar panel always aimed at the sun and it wouldn't work at night or when it's really cloudy. There are gondola systems that have solar panels to power other things , but the only system with AC use an ultra-capacitor system to power it. The London one uses this but it doesn't work very well.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Here's the update on the Gondola SKYLINER stations (.i.e. the replacement for the never-gonna-happen Monorail expansion).
                          All images are the property of Disney.

                          VIDEO after the pics below...

                          Click image for larger version  Name:	 Views:	1 Size:	27.0 KB ID:	8542522Click image for larger version  Name:	 Views:	1 Size:	38.5 KB ID:	8542523Click image for larger version  Name:	 Views:	1 Size:	43.0 KB ID:	8542524Click image for larger version  Name:	 Views:	1 Size:	36.8 KB ID:	8542525



                          And here's a video to give you a hint at what this looks like in action:

                          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSlH3yoqTO4


                          Last edited by chris2fett; 12-09-2017, 10:23 AM.

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                          • #14
                            if it's the same gondola cars, those look like they could be horribly uncomfortable in the Florida heat/ humidity. Wonder how they will keep the temperature comfortable inside.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              This Blog about Gondolas where I read more about Disney's (if you get into the comments they even discuss updated type of gondola model etc.) States that they will have wifi and large windows like the one in Singapore. I don't know why you would provide wifi, but no AC...I would think that comfort of guests would be more paramount than internet connectivity.
                              It's official: North America's largest-ever gondola network is coming to Walt Disney World in Orlando.  Bob Chapek, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts announced the project in a Steve Jobs-esque keynote at a Disney fan convention in Anaheim yesterday. The name for the new system will be Disney Skyliner in a nod to the Skyway…
                              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


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by ORD84 View Post
                                This Blog about Gondolas where I read more about Disney's (if you get into the comments they even discuss updated type of gondola model etc.) States that they will have wifi and large windows like the one in Singapore. I don't know why you would provide wifi, but no AC...I would think that comfort of guests would be more paramount than internet connectivity.
                                Because the power requirements for AC are dramatically higher then are needed to WiFi. I don't know that they would even need Wifi in the cars, the could put the access points at each of the towers. Even if they did put it in the cars a solar panel and some batteries would probably be sufficient for Wifi.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Anyone remember Disney's attempt decades ago to run a monorail spur from the Orlando Airport (MCO) to WDW? It was an EPIC battle. The city complained bitterly that this would prevent local businesses from having access to Disney Guests and as a result, (they claimed) many non-Disney jobs would be lost, along with local tax revenue for Orlando. Disney tried for years to get the city fathers to see reason, but Orlando wouldn't budge. So, Disney gave Orlando the billion dollar middle finger and put in place the same sort of system to transport Guests unmolested from the airport to WDW but using buses instead of monorails, which Orlando couldn't interfere with. But this outcome was apparently was the figurative "wooden stake" through the heart of the monorail. Had the line to MCO been built, other expansions would likely have followed as costs per monorail and cost of the concrete rails would have gone down simply due to economy of scale. (since more are made, the cost per unit goes down.) Lift a glass to what "Might Have Been" and to the mid-century modernism style of design Walt loved so very much.

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                                  • #18
                                    After seeing what happened with monorail red this past week, I feel like writing an open letter to WDW management / Disney. Maybe someone from middle management will read this, pass the recommendation along. Who knows? Anyway, it would go something like this:


                                    To the Walt Disney Company, specifically Walt Disney World management: Thank you for providing one of the premier vacation destinations in the world. We anxiously await the expansion and refurbishments at Disney's Hollywood Studios and Epcot Center, and appreciate the dedication and investment with Pandora, the World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom, and the installation of the Skyliner gondola system to the resort.

                                    As a community of some of the most fanatical, rabid, and dedicated Disney Parks fans, we now ask that you turn your attention toward more immediate and pressing needs. Specifically, the situation with the monorails at the Walt Disney World resort. It has become painfully obvious to those of us who frequent the Parks, that the current system is not sustainable. In fact, safety issues are occurring on a more regular basis with these old 1989 trains.

                                    We realize that with a massive entertainment corporation such as the Walt Disney Company, money is allocated to different areas, divisions, segments, departments, etc., at different times. While it seems easy to the layperson to just go take a few million here and throw it over at a problem there, we know that large business simply does not work that way. As a publicly held company, Disney is expected to show profit on a quarterly basis. Oftentimes, this means raising cost for the guest (with souvenirs, hotel room rates, ticket prices, food), decreasing employee hours and benefits, decreasing the quality of food served in the Parks, cutting back on features and expansion plans, and deferring upgrades and routine maintenance.

                                    Please fix the WDW monorail fleet... no, please upgrade or replace the monorail train system at WDW resort.

                                    We know that the Monorail trains are returned nightly to the monorail barn to be inspected, and have routine maintenance performed. But too much is being missed, or too little time allocated for refurbishment and maintenance.
                                    Find the money, hire extra maintenance staff for the monorail barn, and fix the problem.

                                    Interior panels, carpet, seats, safety rails, windows, interior paint are the worst I have ever seen in my 45 years of vacationing at the Walt Disney World resort. I know that the monorails are beaten to death every day by guests, some with little concern for the damage they themselves cause.
                                    Find the money, fix it anyway.

                                    We know that overall, the WDW monorail system has an excellent safety record when one considers the millions of guests that use it, a few notable and outstanding examples notwithstanding.
                                    Find the money, fix it anyway. The safety record should be perfect.

                                    We know that the 50th anniversary of the Walt Disney World resort is just a few years away, and maybe there is something big coming in 3 or 4 years, "if we just hold on a little while longer". We cannot wait till then.
                                    Find the money, fix it now.

                                    We also note the Disney has spent millions adapting to an automated monorail system, with monorail pilots who now sit in the cab and let the computerized system take over. The problem is, the monorail cars themselves are literally falling apart.
                                    Find the money, fix it now.

                                    With a dozen monorail trains, this would not be a simple, inexpensive, or short process. We, as some of the greatest Disney fans on the planet, understand this. But we need to see movement, we need to see decisions, we need to see something happening. The public face of Walt Disney World management needs to speak to this issue, encourage us, show your passion and dedication for this opening day attraction.

                                    WDW guests, cast members, monorail pilots and staff, DVC members, Annual Passholders, Florida residents, Disney shareholders, and visitors from outside the USA not only deserve better.... they deserve the best that the WDW Resort / Disney has to offer. You have shown that, when it wants to, WDW can be the best at family entertainment. Our community encourages you as passionately as we know how: please, WDW, be great again.

                                    Sincerely,

                                    All who come to this Happy Place
                                    Last edited by chris2fett; 01-14-2018, 08:14 AM.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Excellent letter chris2fett, I was very concerned when I saw that incident with monorail red. Please let me know how they respond. Tampa International recently added a completely automated train system that runs pretty far and fast, I believe that the cost/benefit is there for WDW to replace the aging monorails...and it needs to be done sooner than later, personally I feel maintenance used to be held to a much higher standard around the property. This is a MAJOR safety issue.
                                      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


                                      • #20
                                        It's always interesting how quick people are to write off the Monorail as a has-been transportation. The reality is today on our planet there is approximately 250 miles of in-service monorail track and the same amount in a construction/design phase. You might say the hey-day of Monorails is just starting.

                                        Bombardier is the builder of the current Mark VI Disney World Monorail, they bought the Disney Patents and have gone 2 generations of trains into the future. As it happens by the end of March they will be expanding the Sao Paulo Monorail Line #15 to 7 stations and by June to a total of 10 stations, 28 7 car INNOVIA 300 trains, each train holds 1000 passengers and it's totally automatic plus a escape catwalk between the tracks. There are plans for an expansion to bring the line up to 20 stations, 2 Monorail yards,54 7 car trains total.


                                        ​​​​​​​​


                                        Bombardier is building two Lines of monorail in Thailand and another in Saudi Arabia.
                                        Hitachi is another major builder and has lines all over Japan
                                        China has the biggest installation in the world for a single city Chongqing has 32 miles 37 stations

                                        It beginning to look like Disney is missing out on the dream coming true.

                                        Disney only needs to order up a replacement set of 12 trains - Bombardier 6 car INNOVIA 200's to get a state of the art monorail. Since the WDW trains are not full size they would not have the capacity of the INNOVIA 300 nor the walk thru design. Imaginearing would conceive the exterior and interior look for the Disney magic touch but under the skin would be proven Mass Transit gear.
                                        Last edited by Timon; 03-03-2018, 03:12 PM.

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