With skier visits up 17 percent this season from a previous record, Grand Targhee Resort will spend more than $20 million on improvements the next two years, including a new six place chairlift on Peaked Mountain.
The Peaked lift will become Targhee’s fifth chair and the seventh Doppelmayr D-Line system in the United States. Introduced in 2015, D-Line features more than 200 improvements to previous Doppelmayr detachable technology. The lift will transport 2,000 people per hour, gaining 1,815 vertical feet in just over five minutes. The Peaked area will offer unmatched views of the Tetons with access to over 600 acres of intermediate and advanced terrain. Heavier six passenger carriers will improve the lift’s ability to operate in windy conditions and full carrier parking will help speed storm recovery. Cat skiing will be offered on upper Peaked Mountain for one final season in 2021/22.
Tower/terminal foundations, communications trenching and the lift’s power supply will be completed this summer with steel installation to follow in 2022. New chairs will also be added to the nearby Sacajawea high speed quad during the summer of 2022 to bring its uphill capacity to 2,000 guests per hour. The resort will also construct new employee housing, increase parking and complete a new maintenance shop this summer. “Due to the efforts of many dedicated employees and the support of our guests and partners during challenging times, Grand Targhee is fortunate to be able to announce these projects,” the resort said in a statement.
Boyne Resorts will invest millions to build its third D-Line chairlift, an eight place at Loon Mountain set to open for the 2020-21 season. The first such lift in the Eastern United States will replace the Kancamagus Express, a 1995 detachable quad servicing the lower mountain. Like Boyne’s two Doppelmayr D-Line systems at Big Sky, the Kanc will feature tinted bubbles, heated seats, locking safety bars, a loading conveyor and direct drive. “The Kancamagus 8 chairlift will be a leap into the future of skiing for our guests,” said Jay Scambio, president and general manager of Loon Mountain Resort. “We are committed to bringing the latest advancements to our guests—this lift is the next example of that, following our first-in-the-world dual-frequency RFID installation.”
Loon Mountain currently operates an all-Doppelmayr fleet of ten lifts. “We have a deep, long-standing relationship with both Loon and Boyne Resorts,” noted Mark Bee, President of Doppelmayr USA. “We are proud to be a part of a major step forward in the eastern ski scene that puts Loon on a path towards achieving its goal of having one of the most advanced lift systems in the world.” The east’s most technologically advanced lift will spin at 1,100 feet per minute, making it even faster than Ramcharger. A ride on one of 62 ultra-wide chairs will take just 4.5 minutes. Capacity out of the Governor Adams base area will increase 25 percent to 3,500 guests per hour.
No other American or Canadian ski operator has purchased eight place or D-Line lifts to date. I asked Stephen Kircher, Boyne’s chief executive, what it feels like to be the American early adopter for such technology and this was his response:
It is humbling to be able to continue our company and family’s legacy of over 70 years bringing skiers the next generation of chairlift technology. Now doing it beyond the midwest, with Doppelmayr’s new D-Line technology and doing it with the first two 8 place chairs is even more gratifying. Ironically it took the rest of North America time to adopt triple, quad and six place chairlifts after those were introduced at Boyne in the 60’s through early 90’s, it seems eerily similar for 8 place chairlifts and the new D-Line. Boyne Resorts is proud to be showcasing the future of uphill transportation in the rockies and the east. We believe this will become the new standard of quality and efficiency in the decades ahead. This is likely only the beginning of many more of these types of lifts across North America. Ultimately, enhancing the experience and attracting many more people to the mountains.”
– Stephen Kircher, CEO/President, Boyne Resorts
Kanc 8 will be the first major investment of Flight Path: 2030, a ten year infrastructure push at Loon also announced today. Future projects will seek to elevate the ski experience, grow the business responsibly in every season and connect with the local community. Lift upgrades over the next ten years may include Seven Brothers, Lincoln Express, North Peak Express and the gondola . “Loon’s 10-year plan will have a positive impact on development throughout the Lincoln and Woodstock communities—as we travel together on our path to be New England’s premier mountain destination,” said Scambio.
The Forest Service has already approved the Kanc 8 project and construction will commence in early spring.
Big Sky Resort will cement its position as America’s leader in lift technology with the debut of Swift Current 6, the resort’s fifth major lift addition in four years. The announcement comes just 12 months after the launch of Ramcharger 8, the only eight place and first D-Line lift in North America. By December 2020, two groundbreaking bubble chairlifts will rise from Big Sky’s Mountain Village: one to Andesite Mountain and the other flanking Lone Peak. Not only will Big Sky operate the only two ski lifts in North America with Doppelmayr D-Line technology, the Boyne Resorts flagship will also feature the most lifts with heated seats (three) and the most bubble lifts (four, not counting the private Yellowstone Club which has 8.)
Swift Current 6 will span twice the distance of Ramcharger – about 8,500 feet across 24 towers – making it the fourth longest bubble lift on the continent. 126 premium upholstered chairs will yield a capacity of 3,000 passengers per hour, an increase of more than 25 percent versus the current detachable quad. “Consistent lift improvements are an essential part of Big Sky’s 2025 vision,” noted Big Sky President and COO Taylor Middleton. “We know efficiently dispersing skiers across our almost 6,000 acres of skiing is essential to our guests. Swift Current will dramatically modernize and improve the flow of skiers in the Mountain Village base area.”
Swifty’s 6 m/s line speed will mark a first for North American six place chairlifts and a flight to the heart of the alpine will last just seven minutes. Many aspects will mimic Ramcharger 8, a pioneer still unmatched in the Americas. Bubbles will come in Big Sky blue with heated seats underneath. “This technology offers guests reliability, efficiency, and a staggeringly fast, warm, and comfortable ride up to the iconic Lone Peak—America’s Matterhorn,” said Stephen Kircher, CEO and President of Boyne Resorts. “There will be no faster, safer or more comfortable chairlift in North America.”
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.
It’s official: the Disney Skyliner gondola network will open Sunday, September 29th. Three lines will connect the Trinidad hub with terminals at Epcot, Pop Century/Art of Animation and Hollywood Studios. The launch falls just one month after the highly anticipated grand opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios on August 29th.
Recent photos show finishing touches like landscaping and painting underway in advance of the opening.
The first of Walt Disney World’s three Skyliner lines is looking a lot like a gondola these days with cabins moving along at a brisk clip during test runs. Line speed appears to be at least 5 m/s with cabin interval around 10 seconds, translating to a 3,600 per hour capacity. We’ll have to wait and see what the final spacing and speeds are but it’s clear these gondolas are going to move a ton of people.
BREAKING: First Uncovered Disney Skyliner Gondola Spotted Testing at Walt Disney World
One of the many cabins now flying between Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and Hollywood Studios was recently uncovered, providing some clues to how the system will look when completed. The landing below the cabin doors is wider and squarer than normal for easy loading and unloading. There are three windows that open out on the front of the cabin, one on the tower side and two at the rear. Additional vents at the bottom ensure there will be plenty of air flow. While gondola number 251 is a simple yellow with glazed windows, many other cabins will feature Disney character graphics.
A rainbow shipment of CWA cabins is now stateside, earmarked for the skies above Central Florida. Construction continues on the three line Disney Skyliner system, which is set to open this fall and sure to become a showcase for high capacity lift technology.
In addition to the row of cabins now staged at the Caribbean Beach hub, cabins have also been spotted in the Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Pop Century and Art of Animation stations. While the gondolas are covered in protective wraps, you can see they come in a variety of colors with Disney character art on the windows.
There are interesting looking electrical boxes on the cabin roofs. I’m curious to see what sort of infotainment the Skyliner carriers feature, if any. It does not appear that power is derived from solar panels, as is the case with some other urban gondolas.
Construction lighting at Disney Skyliner Epcot station. Note the yellow nylon ropes, these will pull a light wire rope through. Then the thick Gondola rope will be pulled through. pic.twitter.com/NALdDKedqt
Forty five years to the day since Chet Huntley welcomed the first skiers to Big Sky Resort, Boyne Resorts today debuted North America’s most technologically-advanced chairlift on Andesite Mountain. The eight pack is a bold but logical move for Michigan-based Boyne, which once pioneered the world’s first triple and quad chairlifts. Not only is Ramcharger 8 the first of its kind in North America, it’s also the first Doppelmayr D-Line eight place chairlift in the world.
“Doppelmayr and Boyne Resorts have been collaborating for over 40 years, and together have introduced many firsts to the ski industry,” said Stephen Kircher, President of Boyne Resorts at a mid-morning ceremony. “We are incredibly proud to bring the first eight-seat chairlift to North America, setting a new standard for lift technology in the world.”
Mark Bee, President of Doppelmayr USA, presented the Big Sky Resort team with a customary bell from Austria to celebrate. He also thanked the construction team, led by Jamie Kanzler, for a successful project delivered on schedule. “Without Jamie and his team, we wouldn’t be here today,” said Bee, noting the contract for this ambitious project was signed on March 5th. “Ramcharger 8 is the culmination of everything we have learned so far, and incorporates many firsts for the North American market; first eight-passenger chairlift, first direct drive motor, first locking restraint bar, first height-adjustable loading carpet, first high resolution video display, and the first of our newest generation detachable lifts,” he continued.
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.