The most expensive gondola system ever built in the United States will debut sometime between September and December next year. Bob Chapek, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products made the announcement this morning in a keynote address at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions Expo, which Doppelmayr and CWA are attending. Competitor Leitner-Poma is also there. “Next fall, Disney Skyliner will not only efficiently move you to your location, it’ll also offer a whole new way to experience Walt Disney World with amazing views only available from the sky,” the resort said in a blog post. Construction began on the three gondola lines in July of 2017.
Crews are working across the resort to complete the network, which will link two of the most visited theme parks in the world with four major hotels and replace a significant number of Disney Transport bus routes. A mural was recently added to the gateway station at Epcot and the second angle station now has its Doppelmayr D-Line enclosure.
A second angle station will service the sprawling Riviera Resort, seen below. Can you spot the lift? Guests will find themselves just a few minutes from both Hollywood Studios and Epcot by gondola.
In the below photo, you can see the last of more than 50 towers being completed. Parking rails for hundreds of cabins are also being pieced together at the massive Caribbean Beach hub.
The first of three haul ropes was pulled over a few nights this week on the line to Hollywood Studios. Amazingly, America’s first D-Line lift at Big Sky got its haul rope nearly simultaneously last weekend. Both systems will utilize large diameter Fatzer wire ropes.
Five towers now stand in Hourglass Lake. They are quite short, probably for evacuation reasons. As soon as gondolas leave the lake, they will ascend significantly. I find it cool how many different types and sizes of towers the Skyliner includes despite being on a flat Florida canvas.
The sky blue station between Disney’s Pop Century and Art of Animation resorts is getting a wavy steel roof above the loading area.
With all of the amazing progress, some thought the gondolas could open in the spring. But there is still significant work to do around the stations and the launch may be timed to coincide with the Riviera and ahead of the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge debut. I know it will be worth the wait to experience these remarkable gondolas next fall.
It seems odd that the D-line stations have no doppelmayr logos and one of the mid stations had no square faces.
Disney apparently forbids any suppliers for putting their logo on the equipment they supply. This is why none of the rides feature their respective manufacturer’s logos either.
I find it odd that the Caribbean Beach Resort station is designed the way it is. The use of the combo lift technology (chairs&gondola on same rope) to have a separate boarding area for disabled people is a great idea, but there are 3 independent lines rather than a single line that goes through all the stations. Mammoth Mountain’s Panorama gondola has a middle station where you stay on to go to the top, rather than getting off walking 10 feet, and getting on again. I thought the Caribbean Beach station would be T-shaped so a gondola would come in from Art of Animation and head to Hollywood Studios, come in from Hollywood Studios and head to Epcot, come in from Epcot and head to Art of Animation. My guesses are maintenance (don’t want entire system down at once), guest experience (don’t want guests to wait for an empty gondola), cost (for more custom design of the system itself and designing a (probably 2 story) station where guests can access each side quickly for short-cut transfers and the accessible boarding area)
Doppelmayr currently has not developed the technology to do three connecting systems at on terminal. They attempted to do this with the new interconnect gondolas in Lech, but there was no way to have the cabins be able to circulate on their line while also able to transfer to two others. They still connected two of the gondolas in Lech, but Disney opted to keep them separate for some reason.
We’ve learned with Sweetwater that an intermediate station is basically a wall. The only way across ours to walk down stairs, through a tunnel and back up. Disney’s hub will have an open floor plan. There’s barely a transfer penalty when cabins are only ~20 seconds apart.
I wonder how that would work. You’d probably have two stages running with half the cabins as another that they merge into. Wouldn’t be very efficient.