Nearly 300 gondolas joined the transport fleet at the world’s most visited resort this morning, commencing an exciting new era for the U.S. ropeway scene. The milestone comes more than two years since construction began and almost 50 years from when a simpler VonRoll gondola system first opened at Walt Disney World Resort.
Crews fired up all three Skyliner lines pre-dawn, giving guests their first opportunities to skip bus rides and explore multiple parks in one day. Connecting Epcot and Hollywood Studios with four resort hotels, the system is sure to become among the most-ridden gondolas in the world.
This is the second D-Line detachable system from Doppelmayr to open in the Americas following Big Sky Resort’s Ramcharger 8 launch last December. Although the Austrian builder maintains a strong presence as maintenance contractor for the Skyliner, you won’t find the Doppelmayr name and logo prominently displayed here.
The cabins are highly customized CWA Omega IV models seating up to ten passengers. About half of them feature wraps with characters from Disney, Pixar and Marvel movie franchises.
A month after someone brazenly sabotaged the Sea to Sky Gondola by cutting its haul rope, cleanup is nearly complete with a rebuilding plan in place. “After a massive effort by our incredible operations team, and partners at Rocky Mountain Lift Services, Doppelmayr and Black Tusk Helicopters, we have removed all of the cabins, pieces of the damaged cable, and have secured the main cable,” the company wrote on Facebook this morning. “Thanks to our friends at Whistler Blackcomb, Inter-Mtn Testing and Windfirm Tree Services for their assistance in making this happen.” A remarkable video of the process shows cabins being carefully extracted from the lift line and surrounding forest before being flown to the gondola’s parking lot.
Delivery of a new haul rope from Europe is expected next month and an order of new cabins will follow. Work continues under the gondola and upper mountain hiking trails remain closed for now.
The gondola base area including Basecamp Cafe, guest services and retail store reopened last week along with a trail to Shannon Falls and the Stawamus Chief. “We are still anticipating an early spring 2020 reopening and would like to thank everyone for their patience and support,” says the Sea to Sky team.
Police have not issued any updates since confirming the intentional nature of the cut on August 23rd. Anyone with information regarding this crime is asked to call 604-892-6122. Alternatively, anonymous tips can be provided through Metro Vancouver Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.