Walt Disney World is currently building America’s inaugural Doppelmayr D-Line gondola, actually three gondolas. Although Orlando is a long way from the mountains of Wyoming, the world’s most visited resort is also one of Earth’s most photographed places. So, through the magic of the internet, I am able to give a construction tour of the Disney Skyliner from afar.
Let’s start at Epcot. Foundations for this key station are taking shape but the bulk of work still lies ahead. Though they look like lift terminals, the dark green roofs are actually related to ferry boats the Skyliner will partially replace.
Next up is an angle station that Disney says will showcase the inner workings of the Skyliner as riders pass. No loading or unloading will take place here but the line will deflect around 110 degrees (double grooved bullwheel, maybe?) This one is also just beginning to be formed in what used to be a pond.
Next up is Disney’s Riviera Resort, a complex with the compelling selling point of couple minute gondola rides to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios. The new resort will feature its own adjacent angle station with a ~100 degree turn the other direction, sending southbound gondolas over Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. I’m guessing the three relatively short sections on the Epcot line will all share one drive system like the BreckConnect, which also has two sharply-angled stations.
An epic gondola hub is taking shape at the south end of Caribbean Beach, where the end of the Epcot line meets two additional gondolas at a T. It appears each D-Line gondola station will have three masts, an indication of just how long they will be. Two large cabin parking and maintenance areas also appear to be coming together at Caribbean Beach South. Look at the tower footer towards the lower left. Massive!
A string of towers has already gone up on land between CBB and a joint station for Disney’s Pop Century and Art of Animation resorts. The rest of this line’s towers will be set in Hourglass Lake. Piles for them appear to be in place but not the tubes themselves. The Pop/AoA station will rise from the very center of the lake and it appears this line will sport approximately 10 towers.
The furthest-along station outside of the hub is the spoke for Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This retro-themed terminal will also have three masts, the largest of which is at the front end. There’s also a Euro-style tapered tower and crossarm lying nearby ready to go vertical.
While I mistakenly assumed Disney would launch D-Line in North America, we now know Big Sky will beat them to the punch. This is great news because I’m hearing the Skyliner may not have the Doppelmayr name or logo associated with it, a notion backed by the lack of Doppelmayr-branded number plates on the towers set so far. What will probably be the world’s three most ridden gondolas are expected to debut simultaneously around June 2019, by which time even more D-Line lifts could be under construction in U.S. ski country.