Double Turnarounds! Disney Skyliner Advances

Three of the highest capacity lifts America has ever seen continue to take shape this spring at Walt Disney World in preparation for a 2019 opening.  With steel coming together for the first two megastations announced almost a year ago, the Hollywood Studios gondola seems on track to be completed first.

To keep things consistent, I’ll start this month’s update at Epcot, where the longest of three Disney World lifts will terminate.  This zigzagging line will feature two intermediate stations between Epcot’s International Gateway and the south end of the Caribbean Beach Resort.  Foundation work is in progress at all four stations and the second to last tower (number 25 I think) was recently set near the park entrance.  You can see in the bottom left of the above photo that it might be finished in a green shade to blend into its surroundings.

More towers are either standing or soon will be between Epcot and the first turn station near the parking lot for Disney’s BoardWalk Inn.  This section appears to have around seven towers total.  The ride will be very cool with one water crossing, a forest section and Eiffel Tower views.

Forms are now in place for the significant amount of concrete that will support the Board Walk angle station.  Riders will stay in cabins here as they detach, turn approximately 110 degrees and accelerate again.

The alignment then crosses more water, through another forest and an eight lane thoroughfare before arriving at the new Riviera Resort and another sweeping turn in the other direction.

This angle station is tracking a bit ahead of its sibling with the eight concrete station masts recently being poured.  The adjacent tower footers are, in a word, massive.

Skyliner cabins will float over the sprawling Caribbean Beach Resort and pass a few tall towers on the short jaunt southbound from Riviera.  The probable drive station for this line and two more will converge at a T and form the Caribbean Beach hub, which grows larger every day.  In the center of the below photo, you’ll notice what might be the longest lift terminal ever built in America, at least until the Skyliner angle stations are completed in a few months.  I count approximately 180 tires on the DHS station alone.

Look closely and there are two distinct turnarounds on the east end of the station with chain conveyors between them.  Something very unique is afoot with some sort of split flow scenario, presumably to achieve very high throughput and better serve guests with strollers and wheelchairs.

There are two more terminals about to go in tangent to the Hollywood Studios one.  Crews are simultaneously building two cabin storage areas and buildings that will cover the loading plazas where thousands of guests will transfer each and every day.

D-Line parts can be seen everywhere – from tire banks and bullwheels to tower tubes and sheave trains.  I assume much or all of them came by ship from Europe and can’t help but think Doppelmayr’s production teams are working like crazy.  While all this is going on in Florida, the big D is also ramping to install at least twenty ski lifts in the US and Canada including the similarly ambitious gondola project at Blackcomb.

Nearly all the towers for the Hollywood Studios line are now in place.  The ones in the forest went up most recently and are the tallest we’ve seen yet with the first big combo assemblies.

A second station is being assembled this week near the Hollywood Studios entrance.  It looks like it will have the same double turnaround setup as the other end at Caribbean Beach.

Gondola number three departs from the shared hub and arrives at a return terminal in the middle of Hourglass Lake.  With most of the concrete finished for this line, assembly work seems focused elsewhere at the moment.  There’s till no sign of the four towers set to be placed atop pilings in the lake.

Hundreds of workers are making tremendous progress and the Skyliner seems poised to become one of the world’s most capable lift systems.  I will update again in June, approximately one year from when all three gondolas are rumored to open for millions of visitors to enjoy.

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16 thoughts on “Double Turnarounds! Disney Skyliner Advances

  1. Cooper May 6, 2018 / 4:45 pm

    So, Breckenridge is no longer the only resort with double loading in North America!

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    • Peter Landsman May 6, 2018 / 4:52 pm

      I intentionally didn’t use the double loading phrase. We’ll have to wait and see how it all works. They can’t put non-skiers in the path of moving cabins, especially level walk-in ones (ask Telluride.) Therefore the inside turnaround may not be used for loading. That leaves two straight loading areas and the outer turnaround at each station.

      If Disney wasn’t so secretive about everything, we’d know by now. But it’s kind of fun to guess as it comes together.

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      • Cooper May 6, 2018 / 5:10 pm

        Also, do you know how large the termials are going to be? XXL XXXL?

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      • Peter Landsman May 6, 2018 / 5:29 pm

        The S, M, L, etc. are UNI G sizes. I don’t know what the D-Line sizes are.

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      • Doppelmayr FTW May 6, 2018 / 6:10 pm

        At solden, the 8 mgd packs the cabins so close together they have to accelerate them around the turn so they do not collide, this makes loading on the turn impossible, my guess is disney will have 4 loading zones. Two on the inner turn around. Two on the outer one. Thats just my thinking.

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  2. Doppelmayr FTW May 6, 2018 / 6:11 pm

    D line is measured by how many meters the straight section of tires is. So a typical station would be a D16. This seems like a D30 or more.

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    • Peter Landsman May 6, 2018 / 8:41 pm

      That’s interesting. Going from zero D-Line stations in the US to ten in a single year should help us all get to know them better soon.

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  3. Austin H May 7, 2018 / 7:17 am

    Do you think with lots of small children and elderly, that there is a much larger space to get on or the cabins will go slower or even stop in the terminal.

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    • Collin May 7, 2018 / 3:58 pm

      The cabins will likely stop on the outer turnaround for that purpose. There would be separate loading and unloading on the straight sections and the doors would close before going around the inner turnaround.

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      • Jason p May 8, 2018 / 11:01 am

        Do you think it will automatically feed like every 5th cabin to the special needs area? That way it could stop in that zone and not affect the line? if there is spare room in the cabin or the cabin is empty from the special needs line it would be then loaded in the main section? So many questions this brings up, like line spacing and sequencing dynamically without affecting the speed of the main line. This is gonna be cool to watch come together!

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      • Austin H May 8, 2018 / 11:16 am

        It will be interesting to see if they program it differently than any other lift. I think it brings the question of specialized gondola or will the seat fold up to accommodate will wheelchairs.

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      • Peter Landsman May 8, 2018 / 6:40 pm

        Seems likely it would be regular intervals like a chondola. Say the special needs cabins were every fifth, that would leave a lot of time for one to crawl through the second turnaround or even come to a complete stop while four cabins go through the other one.

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  4. Austin H May 9, 2018 / 10:35 am

    Thanks for answering my question. I think this and if the dodgers gondola will go through can serve as case studies for American cities especially those with rivers to invest in urban gondolas. However it can be like monorails were they built it at Disney and Vegas and it did not catch on. I think for Disney, I can see this being a huge hit as other theme parks like SeaWorld San Diego and Six Flags Great Adventure have old Van Roll gondolas that are still some of the most popular attractions.

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  5. AM May 9, 2018 / 2:19 pm

    What is the price tag on this giant?

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