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.
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.
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.