Disney Chooses Doppelmayr D-Line

The new EPCOT gondola station at Walt Disney World Resort will feature metal and glass with hand-painted murals, the park revealed in a blog post today.  Photo credit: Disney Parks Blog

Doppelmayr’s next-generation detachable lift technology appears headed for North America.  Walt Disney World Resort released new details about the upcoming Disney Skyliner gondola system this morning and renderings appear to show D-Line Station-D enclosures.  Each of the six gondola stations will be themed differently, reflecting unique character of the destinations they serve.

D-Line is Doppelmayr’s latest detachable product that debuted two years ago in Hochgurgl, Austria.  Numerous D-Line lifts have since opened in the Alps but no American resort operator has opted to pay extra for one so far, opting instead for the proven UNI-G terminals and standard line equipment.  The Walt Disney Company isn’t your standard lift customer, however.  D-Line sports hundreds of innovations including rope speeds up to 7 m/s or 1,378 feet per minute and wider line gauge for wider carriers.  CWA has developed D-Line-specific Omega gondola cabins with 11 percent greater seating area than non-D 10-passenger versions.  At Disney World, cabins will sport custom wraps with the Disney characters guests know and love.

The Disney Hollywood Studios station will be themed to match nearby buildings in a retro style. Most Disney guests will have no idea they are riding some of the most technologically-advanced lifts in North America.  Photo credit: Disney Parks Blog

Disney’s renderings also appear to show long terminals and dense cabin spacing, indicative of very high hourly capacity.  Each Skyliner line is rumored to be in the 3,000-5000 pphpd range (the current world record for any lift is 4,500 for a 10-passenger D-line gondola in Soelden.)  Disney will surely be operating Skyliner lines as many hours and days of the year as possible and all-new D-Line grips and sheaves were designed with high-hour urban applications in mind.  New grips can accommodate ropes up to 64 mm in diameter, though Disney World may not require ropes that big with relatively short stage lengths.

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort station will forego the typical D-Line enclosure for an open-air marketplace look. This is where the three gondolas meet and guests can transfer between lines.  Cabin parking and maintenance space will also be located here.  Photo credit: Disney Parks Blog

Three additional stations were detailed but not illustrated in Disney’s blog post.  An open-air angle station along Buena Vista Drive will afford riders views of the ropeway technology as they pass slowly, implying some sort of tunnel terminal rather than a full enclosure.

A “whimsical” station in the middle of Hourglass Lake will serve Disney’s Pop Century and Art of Animation resorts and I’m told is the most striking visually of the six.

Another angle station will open alongside Disney’s upcoming Riviera Resort and presumably match the hotel’s theme.

As you can see from Twitter, Skyliner construction is well underway and Disney says to stay tuned for an opening date.  I’m hearing sometime in 2019.  If these renderings are any indication, the Skyliner gondolas will be unlike anything we’ve ever seen before in North America with serious architectural style and some very cool technology.

14 thoughts on “Disney Chooses Doppelmayr D-Line

  1. Thomas Jett December 8, 2017 / 4:55 pm

    We should start taking bets on what area is going to build the first winter-use D-Line. The only first adopters I can think of are Big Sky (because of their whole ‘best technology’ or Vail. Failing that, I could maybe see Sun Valley put up the money for their Challenger replacement.

    I’m glad that Disney has the pockets for this, as it may serve to push everyone else forward.


    • Ryan December 8, 2017 / 9:29 pm

      Nothing wrong with everyone else sticking with the old proven designs.


    • Paul Wanders March 13, 2019 / 10:46 pm

      Disney Is Actually Wrong In Saying That They Are The First Resort To Have D-Line Boyne Resorts Who Own Big Sky In Beautiful Montana 2019 Launched The World’s First D-Line 8 Passenger Heated Chairlift In The World. Althogh Disney Could Have Had Cabins In Their New Skyliner System They Opted NOT To Have It In Order To Save $$. Eventley Not Listening To Thier Guest Needs, Wants. But Big Sky Spared NO Expense On Their Ramcharger 8 Chairlift.


      • Collin Parsons March 14, 2019 / 5:56 am

        Disney was the first to have announced a D-Line in North America. They will still open the first D-Line gondola.


  2. Mike Turley December 8, 2017 / 10:23 pm

    I think Jackson Hole should buy the first two winter use D-Lines to replace upper Sublette and finally install lower Sublette


  3. Peter Landsman December 9, 2017 / 10:07 am

    Fun capacity math:
    3,600 pph Vail Gondola One scenario:
    -10 passenger cabins
    -1,200 ft/min line speed
    -200′ spacing

    Current world record 4,500:
    -10 passenger cabins
    -1,280 ft/min line speed
    -171′ spacing

    A path to 4,000:
    -10 passenger cabins
    -1,200 ft/min line speed
    -180′ spacing

    A path to 4,400:
    -8 passenger cabins
    -1,378 ft/min line speed (D-Line max)
    -150′ spacing (not sure what is possible here)

    A path to 5,000:
    -10 passenger cabins
    -1,378 ft/min line speed
    -165.5′ spacing

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thomas Jett December 9, 2017 / 12:50 pm

      I think that as long as the line will hold the weight, dispatch interval is a more useful metric than line speed and spacing.

      3,600 pp/h
      10 pp/dispatch
      360 dispatches/h

      4,500 pp/h
      10 pp/dispatch
      450 dispatches/h

      Path to 4,000:
      4,000 pp/h
      10 pp/dispatch
      400 dispatches/h

      Path to 4,400;
      4,400 pp/h
      8 pp/dispatch
      550 dispatches/h

      Path to 5,000:
      5,000 pp/h
      10 pp/dispatch
      500 dispatches/h

      The fundamental problem with gondolas is that they’re inefficient. Mammoth has two gondolas, a D8G at 2,400 pp/h, and a D15G at 3,600 pp/h. That puts their dispatch intervals at 12s/dispatch and 15s/dispatch. With most chairlifts, you can get away with 1s/(pp*dispatch) without running into efficiency issues. That’s why you see most D8C lifts running at below 6s/dispatch. For Mammoth’s gondolas, however, despite the fact that they are running at .67s/(pp*dispatch) and 1s/(pp*dispatch) respectively, they pretty much can’t run at full capacity. This means that for chairlifts, capacity increases really shouldn’t matter beyond 3,600 pp/h. For gondolas, because they require even more time to load, it should be less.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thomas Jett December 9, 2017 / 12:52 pm

        I will say that this is for single-loading loading stations. Multi-loading stations like Quicksilver could theoretically exceed this limit.


      • Peter Landsman December 9, 2017 / 1:09 pm

        I included spacing because a major limiting factor seems to be when cabins get too close in station turnarounds, which is directly related to the spacing on the line. I initially assumed Sölden would accomplish 4,500 per hour with double loading to keep cabins further apart in the turnarounds.

        Instead, the trick is that doors only open on straight sections with tires moving cabins faster in the turns. The upper terminal is in the shape of a T with loading only at the ‘top’ of the T. I’m not sure about the bottom but I suspect there are separate unloading and loading areas on the arrival/departure sides with doors closing for another accelerated turnaround in between. Pretty smart solution.

        The question put another way: What is the optimal combination of cabin size, line/turnaround/loading speeds and station geometry to achieve the highest possible capacity without causing a collision?


      • Thomas Jett December 9, 2017 / 2:25 pm

        I’d like to note initially that a 2,400 pp/h D8G would need to run at 1.5s/(pp*dispatch), not .67.

        Cabin Articulation could be an issue at those intervals, but I think that the T-Station solves it. Really, the issue is that on a 3,600 pp/h machine, one person needs to get in a cabin every second for it to reach full capacity. To take it to an extreme, say we have a 7,200 pp/h D10G with a single station. At full capacity, you would need to fill a 10 person every five seconds. Even if you had a 30 person tricable gondola, you would need to fill that in 15s. The solution to this problem is to load multiple cabins at a time. There are two ways to accomplish this: double stations, or long loading areas. If you have a T-Station, you don’t just need to load the first cabin in. You can load every cabin in the station at the same time.
        That being said, I get the feeling that the $20 million+ that this would cost would basically disqualify it from consideration in the American market.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. foodculturepeople December 9, 2017 / 2:12 pm

    Looks like the Wizard/Solar replacement Gondola @ Blackcomb will be D-Line, 4,000 hour.


    • Peter Landsman December 9, 2017 / 2:14 pm

      Source? I’m certain Leitner-Poma put in a bid as well.


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