Announcing Kancamagus 8, the East’s First Eight Pack

Infographic_1000x563

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.”

IMG_5875
Boyne will operate the only two eight place chairlifts in the Americas.

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.

IMG_9230
The Kancamagus quad is 24 years old and in need of a capacity upgrade.

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 to Build North America’s Fastest Six Seat Chairlift

IMG_5743
Swift Current 6 will join the existing Ramcharger 8 as an out-of-base workhorse in winter 2020-21.

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.”

big sky 2-18-07 113
Swift Current provides a critical link between Andesite Mountain and Lone Peak and is utilized in both winter and summer.

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.”

Continue reading

Skyliner Begins Flying at Walt Disney World

IMG_3213

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.

IMG_3074

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.

Continue reading

Disney Skyliner Launches September 29th

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.

sdgtyevgj1h1

Recent photos show finishing touches like landscaping and painting underway in advance of the opening.

Continue reading

News Roundup: Cirque

  • The Salesforce Transit Center tram opens Monday.
  • Volunteers are determined to complete the Ascutney Mountain T-Bar project in time for next winter.
  • Peak Resorts reports a great fourth quarter with $36.9 million in earnings on $85.5 million in revenue, up from a year ago 52.5 and 71.5 percent, respectively.
  • Mexico City awards the contract for the first Cablebús urban gondola line to Doppelmayr, which will utilize D-Line technology.

  • The reopening of Big Tupper, NY hits a snag.
  • Proposed changes to the NEPA process would streamline approval of projects on National Forest lands impacting less than 20 acres, such as chairlift replacements.
  • The Balsams goes up for sale.
  • At Squaw Alpine, the extended Hot Wheels replacement will be named Treeline Cirque.
  • Seattle’s ABC affiliate checks in on Stevens Pass’ trio of lift projects.
  • Five months before its grand opening, Woodward Park City is really coming along.  Bonus: it looks like Doppelmayr has a new, more modern lift operator shack option (also seen at Manning Park.)

Disney Skyliner Proving Runs Underway

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.

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.

The Epcot line, which stretches some 8,200 linear feet with two angle changes, is not far behind on its way to completion.

At the first angle station, landscaping is underway and stairs are being erected for worker access to the terminal.

Continue reading

Gondola Cabins Arrive at Walt Disney World

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.

Continue reading

Big Sky & Doppelmayr Christen Ramcharger 8

IMG_5926

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.

IMG_5816
Boyne Resorts President Stephen Kircher and son Everett prepare to cut the ribbon.

“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.”

IMG_5802

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.

Continue reading

Disney Skyliner to Open in Fall 2019

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.

Continue reading

Meet Big Sky’s Innovative New Lifts

IMG_5320

Ramcharger 8 at Big Sky Resort is both the first eight passenger chairlift and first Doppelmayr D-Line lift in North America.  I headed to Montana yesterday for an update on this exciting project and a related one, the new Shedhorn 4.  Touring Ramcharger, it became clear the decision to purchase this lift was not just about the eight passenger chairs, heated seats or loading carpet.  D-Line has numerous small innovations made with mechanics and operators in mind that combine to create a new generation of Doppelmayr detachable.  A few features I noticed: Every grate and cover is designed to easily open and close for quick access to moving parts.  Belts that connect station tires each have individual tensioners.  Stairs lead into the terminals rather than ladders.  Many spots where metal meets metal are lined with rubber for noise and vibration dampening.  Doppelmayr says D-Line has more than 200 improvements overall.

The massive Doppelmayr Direct Drive motor is in place at the top terminal and will be water cooled.  It will quietly and efficiently spin at just 13 revolutions per minute.  Because a gearbox and related shafts have been removed from the equation, all braking will be directly on the bullwheel.  There is a single diesel evacuation drive rather than separate evacuation and standby engines.  The west side of the top terminal features a 7,500 square foot parking facility for the chairs in two rows.  Part of the floor opens up to an equally-sized basement where bike carriers can be hoisted onto chair hangers come summer.  The outside of the barn is being wrapped in plastic for this winter and will be completed next spring.

The first four chairs and hangers arrived during my visit at the end of a long journey from Austria by ship, train and truck (the entire lift came over in containers, not just the chairs.)  The 64 carriers are emblazoned with Ramcharger 8 logos, feature heated seats and sport blue bubbles.  They are so large that only four fit in each shipping container!

Steel will be set at the bottom tension station over the next 7-10 days, which we will be able to watch live.  This terminal’s legs, loading conveyor and gates are already in place.  Operators will be able to raise and lower the deck on demand for children to board and capacity will be 3,200 people per hour to start.  The 54 mm haul rope is also on site after its trip from Fatzer in Switzerland.  The comm line for this lift is completely underground as is apparently common in Europe.

Continue reading